Houston-based EnCap Investments LP and partner Flatrock Energy Advisors, headquartered in San Antonio, have created the EnCap Energy Infrastructure Fund LP with total capital commitments of $791.6 million. The fund is tailored for investments in midstream businesses in North America. The fund managers plan to provide growth capital to “proven” management teams of gathering pipelines, natural gas treatment and processing plants, as well as interstate pipelines and storage. The midstream fund already has committed $215 million to five portfolio energy companies that include Cardinal Midstream and Rangeland Energy.

Atlas Energy Inc. and India’s Reliance Industries Ltd. are buying another 42,344 acres in the Pennsylvania portion of the Marcellus Shale for an average purchase price of $4,532/acre, or around $191.9 million. The two companies recently completed an agreement to jointly explore the Marcellus play in transaction worth an estimated $1.7 billion (see NGI, April 12). The additional leasehold covers parts of Fayette, Washington, Indiana, Westmoreland, Armstrong and Clarion counties. With the latest transaction, the joint venture would control about 343,000 acres in the Marcellus play, of which around 206,000 acres are net to Atlas. Atlas controls an additional 280,000 acres that are prospective for the Marcellus Shale outside the agreement with Reliance.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (Transco) the green light to place into service an expansion of its pipeline system that will serve markets in the southeastern United States. The Mobile Bay South facilities, which are going into operation weeks ahead of schedule, are designed to create 253,500 Dth/d of southbound, year-round firm capacity on the Mobile Bay Lateral from Transco’s mainline at Station 85 near Butler, AL, to its interconnect with Gulfstream Natural Gas System in Coden, AL (see NGI, May 18, 2009). Transco is a pipeline subsidiary of Oklahoma-based The Williams Companies. “Combined with our Station 85 North expansion, the Mobile Bay South project creates over half a billion cubic feet [a day] of takeaway capacity from Station 85 to downstream markets,” said Phil Wright, president of Williams’ natural gas pipeline business. The Mobile Bay South project primarily consists of the installation of a 9,470-hp compressor facility at Station 85.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has scheduled a meeting for May 13 in Harrisburg, PA, with natural gas and oil companies that hold permits to drill in the Marcellus Shale to discuss what steps the industry will be required to take to prevent gas from mitigating from wells and polluting the state’s natural resources. The meeting follows DEP’s decision to suspend the review of Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.’s pending drilling applications statewide and barred the producer from drilling new natural gas wells “for at least one year” in the Dimock Township area of Susquehanna County because of contaminated groundwater (see NGI, April 19).

EXCO Resources Inc. said a “well control event” in Caddo Parish, LA, on April 18 was caused by “an unexpected gas flow” in a well being drilled at a depth of 1,533 feet. No injuries or damage to drilling equipment occurred, and officials were “promptly notified of the event and have worked continuously with EXCO to ensure the safety of the public and the environment. The source of the unexpected gas flow is under evaluation, and plugging and abandonment procedures are under way.” About 125 homes in proximity to the well were voluntarily evacuated, but residents were returning home, officials said. An investigation into gas contamination of water wells is ongoing by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, with the cooperation and assistance of EXCO.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) and state Treasurer’s Office entered a first-of-its-kind interagency agreement to allow the state to offer financing programs for three alternative fuel and transportation projects. As a result of the financing mechanism now in place, the CEC soon will solicit qualified projects in three areas: a state ethanol plant incentive program (about $6 million in funding), providing loan guarantees for qualifying projects selected by the CEC; an advanced biofuel production plant program ($15 million); and a vehicle and component manufacturing program ($19 million), providing loan guarantees for qualifying projects up to $1.5 million and bond/credit enhancement financial assistance for projects greater than $1.5 million.

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