Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC has filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval to build a pipeline to carry natural gas from northern Pennsylvania to Northeast markets, and Iroquois Gas Transmission has filed an application to build a key interconnect project. Constitution, owned by subsidiaries of Williams Partners LP, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Piedmont Natural Gas Co. and WGL Holdings, expects to complete the122-mile pipeline by spring 2015 (see NGI, June 3). The 30-inch diameter gas line initially would carry up to 650,000 Dth/d from Susquehanna County, PA, interconnecting with the Iroquois and Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) systems in Schoharie County, NY. Constitution reached an agreement with Iroquois to expand the Wright compressor station to eliminate the need for a 32,0000 hp compressor facility in Schoharie County, NY (see NGI, Jan. 21). Iroquois requested that FERC issue its certificate by May 1, 2014 to meet an in-service date of March 31, 2015.

Williams said it was cooperating with authorities to determine the cause of an explosion and fire on Thursday at the Geismar, LA, olefins plant that had killed two people as of Friday and had injured more than 70 others. Zachary Green, 29, died Thursday and Scott Thrower, 47, died Friday. Williams said the extent of damage was unknown, nor was it known when operations would resume. The plant had been scheduled for an expansion this summer that was to have taken about six weeks. Tudor, Pickering & Holt Inc. calculated that every 30 days of downtime at the plant represented about $40 million in financial impacts to Williams.

Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee approved legislation to expand offshore energy production to include the East and West Coasts, and extend revenue-sharing to all coastal states. HR 2231 requires that a new federal leasing plan, and subsequent five-year offshore leasing plans, include sales in areas containing the most known oil and gas reserves, estimated to contain 2.5 billion bbl of oil and 7.5 Tcf of gas. It calls for specific leases sales off the coast of Virginia, South Carolina and California using existing offshore infrastructure or onshore extended-reach drilling. It also opposes 37.5% revenue-sharing for other coastal states with energy production off their shores. Currently only the Gulf Coast states receive 37.5% of the revenue from new leases, with the remainder going to the U.S. Treasury.

The Indiana Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a 30-year contract for the state to purchase coal-to-substitute natural gas (SNG) from a proposed $2.8 billion gasification plant in Rockport, IN. At issue is a contract between Leucadia National Corp. and the Indiana Finance Authority, under which the latter has agreed to purchase 38 million Dth/year of SNG and resell it on the interstate gas market (see NGI, Feb. 20, 2012). Consumer groups and utilities, including Vectren Corp., argue that the deal is uneconomic and end customers would be responsible for any losses. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled against the contract, and said the definition of a “retail end use customer” inappropriately included industrial transportation customers, even though state lawmakers did not intend for them to be included in Indiana’s SNG Act.

Privately held Antero Resources Corp., controlled by Warburg Pincus LLC, plans to raise $1 billion through an initial public offering, it said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The operator also has increased capital spending plans for the year by $300 million to $1.95 billion to drill wells in the Marcellus and Utica shales. Some money also is being set aside to complete an 80-mile water pipeline system in West Virginia and Ohio to service unconventional drilling projects.

To revive a plan to levy severance taxes on hydraulic fracturing and natural gas liquids (NGL), Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed giving 25% of the tax proceeds to 33 counties in Ohio’s Utica Shale region. The proposal calls for a 4.5% severance tax on crude oil and NGLs, versus a previous 4% tax (see NGI, April 8). A 1% severance tax also would be levied on natural gas produced from unconventional wells (see NGI, Feb. 11).

Century Midstream LLC, whose focus primarily will be to develop and expand emerging liquids plays across North America, has been launched by private equity energy firm First Reserve Corp. and midstream veterans of NiSource Inc. As co-founder, First Reserve is providing an initial infusion of up to $500 million. Joseph A. Blount, former COO of NiSource Inc. affiliate NiSource Midstream & Minerals Group, was named CEO. Former NiSource Midstream executives also joining the company are John Howard, president and COO; Jim Avioli Jr., senior vice president (SVP) of Business Development; and Brian Raber, SVP of Engineering.

The University of Tennessee‘s Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) is seeking an industry partner for a proposed project to investigate impacts of gas and oil exploration and development from shale formations in East Tennessee and the wider region. A request for proposals (RFP) to lease interests in 8,600 acres in Morgan and Scott counties “is intended to identify a potential industry source to conduct the drilling component” at UT’s Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center. The university will accept sealed proposals until Aug. 7. Information is available at under the “Bidding Information” link to advertised proposals; the project is listed under Collective Number 30001591.

A pair of bills designed to make natural gas service available to more consumers in Pennsylvania has been approved by the state Senate and moved to the House for consideration. SB 738 (the Natural Gas Consumer Access Act) and SB 739 call on the state government to assist with the extension of natural gas distribution lines to customers that are either not currently being served or are under-served by utilities. SB 738 was approved by the Senate in a 46-2 vote; SB 739 was approved by a 38-12 vote and referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy committee. The bills were introduced earlier this year by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Chester) and Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) (see NGI, April 8).

The American Gas Association estimates that more than 500,000 housing units in the Northeast switched from oil to natural gas for their primary heating fuel between 2000 and 2010. The estimate is based on an AGA report, “Residential Space Heating Changes in the Northeast, 2000-2010,” which was compiled using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. AGA said it examined 217 U.S. northeastern counties for changes in home heating fuel and it found that natural gas conversions topped those of all other fuels combined during the decade. Nationwide, consumers who heated their homes with natural gas during the 2011-2012 winter heating season saw average savings of 70% compared to those using heating oil, and more than 32% compared to homes heated with electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has revised rules for disposing drilling waste that were endorsed by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. The rules clarify parts of the 2009 pit rule, and there are also provisions that “govern a type of pit that previously was unrecognized by the state rule: the multi-well fluid management pit,” the document said. “The pit rule is a regulatory system that addresses permitting, siting, closure methods, operation, design and construction, reclamation, re-vegetation and constituent level standards.”

Western Gas Partners LP has exercised an option to acquire a 25% interest in a joint venture with Enterprise Products Partners LP to own two fractionation trains (Trains 7 and 8) being constructed in Mont Belvieu, TX. The trains, scheduled to begin service later this year, would be operated by Enterprise. Western, formed by Anadarko Petroleum Corp., also plans to begin constructing a second cryogenic processing train at its Lancaster plant in the Denver-Julesburg Basin with capacity of 300 MMcf/d and throughput of 200 MMcf/d that would begin operating in early 2015.

California lawmakers are considering AB 177 that would mandate a 51% renewable goal by 2030, more stringent than the statutory renewable portfolio standard of 33% by 2020. The bill, authored by Assemblymember V. Manuel Perez, gives lawmakers time to dissect the details, followed by possible passage in 2014. The California Energy Commission has approved rules for public-sector utilities to meet the current 33% RPS standard, which are “critical to reduce our emissions and secure environmental benefits,” said Chair Robert Weisenmiller.

Piedmont Natural Gas will solicit bids for asset management services and gas supply beginning Nov. 1 for North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee operations. The utility has a total system throughput of more than 250 Bcf/year, with firm transportation contracts on multiple pipelines. Piedmont will seek asset management services, seasonal, and year-round supply for contract terms yet to be determined. Contact Keith Maust at (704) 731-4901, or Sarah Stabley at (704) 731-4907.

Enbridge Energy Partners LP (EEP) has launched an initial public offering of Midcoast Energy Partners LP, a proposed master limited partnership whose initial asset is to consist of an about 40% interest in EEP’s natural gas and natural gas liquids midstream business in Texas and Oklahoma, as well as logistics and marketing assets located in the southeastern United States. The company would be headquartered in Houston.

Oilfield services provider Flowserve Corp. plans to relocate some of its pump division operations from New Jersey to Hanover Township in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said Flowserve plans to sign a 10-year lease and invest more than $1.5 million in the new facility. The company received a $310,000 grant through the state Department of Community and Economic Development and it plans to create 124 jobs within the next three years.

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