Apache Corp. said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement approved a permit to enable the company to resume plugging and abandonment operations at East Cameron Block 278 Platform B in the Gulf of Mexico. Operations were suspended when a leak was discovered about Sunday morning by an Apache crew, which saw bubbling near the platform. Air monitoring equipment found no traces of gas emissions on the facility, and power had been restored to assure safe operations, the company said Thursday. The depleted gas field is in water depths of 168 feet about 95 miles south of Cameron, LA.

In the final regulatory hurdle needed for Sempra Energy to begin re-exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its Cameron LNG import terminal in Hackberry, LA, as soon as Feb. 1, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the company’s request, saying no environmental or other sensitive resources will be adversely affected since no new facilities or modifications of existing facilities are required. Last month affiliate Sempra LNG Marketing LLC received authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy (DOE/FE) to begin exporting previously imported LNG from the terminal (see NGI, Dec. 13, 2010). The company has DOE/FE clearance to re-export up to 250 Bcf total over a two-year period. Allowing previously imported LNG to be re-exported would give customers the ability to store imported gas at the terminal and then export it at a later time to higher-paying markets, Sempra said (see NGI, Sept. 13, 2010). Sempra had requested approval by the end of 2010 in order to put re-export facilities in place by Feb. 1.

Spectra Energy Corp. has approval from the National Energy Board (NEB) to enact a new three-year negotiated toll settlement that defines the economic factors and provisions for establishing tolls and maintains service standards for its British Columbia (BC) Pipeline system in Western Canada. The gas pipeline is the main gas transmission system in the province with capacity to transport more than 2.3 Bcf/d. The system, 1,800 miles long, stretches from Fort Nelson, BC, and Gordondale at the BC/Alberta border, to the southernmost point at the BC/U.S. border at Huntington/Sumas. The settlement governs mainline transmission tolls for services offered through Spectra’s Zone 3 (Transmission North) and Zone 4 (Transmission South) BC Pipeline facilities in British Columbia and Alberta beginning Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 13, 2013. The allowed rate of return on common equity is fixed at 9.7% on a 40% common equity ratio for the term of the settlement.

Domestic exploration and production (E&P) companies often spend too much money and in turn deplete company value by chasing growth, acreage and reserves when they instead should focus on efficiency, returns and margins, according to a report by Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. Inc. (TPH). The “TPH E&P Manifesto,” a 36-page review of E&Ps, examines historical stock performance and why some companies continue to outperform others. E&P target prices are based on net asset values (NAV), “but we realize we cannot solely use NAV in a vacuum as it does not always accurately capture a company’s ability to create the most value per dollar invested and generate the best returns possible.” Instead, E&Ps should be ranked based on how much value they create, return on capital employed, cash margins and through production growth/debt-adjusted shares, the analysts wrote.

El Paso Corp., owner of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, was investigating a leak in the area of the pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico. “We had a producer report late [Tuesday] afternoon that bubbles were coming to the surface in the West Delta Block 39 area. We’re checking it out this morning,” said El Paso spokesman Richard Wheatley. “Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is investigating a pipeline leak in the West Delta 39 Block. There have been no reports of injury or fire associated with this leak. The exact impact to throughput and individual producers is unknown at this time; however, it is expected to be minimal,” the company said in an informational posting for shippers. The investigation was still ongoing last Friday.

Inergy LP unit Inergy Midstream LLC is holding a nonbinding open season through Feb. 15 for firm wheeling service on a proposed extension of its Tres Palacios gas storage facility pipeline header system. The project would create a new interconnect at the tailgate of Copano Energy LLC‘s Houston Central gas processing plant in Colorado County, TX. The project is expected to include about 20 miles of lateral piping, additional compression and interconnect facilities. Once complete the Tres Header Project would allow shippers to move gas along 60 miles of header pipe with access to a combination of 10 interstate and intrastate pipelines and the Tres Palacios storage facility. The anticipated in-service for the pipeline extension is in summer 2012. For information contact Bruce Page at (281) 453-5306 or Jeff Reavis at (281) 453-5307. Requests for open season packages may be emailed to bpage@inergyservices.com.

Copano Energy LLC plans to increase capacity to handle natural gas liquids (NGL) associated with growing gas production from the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, the company said. Copano has made a long-term fractionation and product sales agreement with Formosa Hydrocarbons Co. Inc. To enable delivery of mixed NGLs to Formosa Copano has formed a joint venture with a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners to construct, own and operate a 12-inch diameter NGL pipeline (Liberty Pipeline) in Texas. Liberty would run about 83 miles from Copano’s Houston Central Complex in Colorado County first to Formosa’s leased NGL product storage facility in Matagorda County and then to Formosa’s petrochemical facility in Calhoun County.

MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC has signed up units of Chesapeake Energy Corp. for additional midstream services in the Marcellus Shale in northern West Virginia, the partnership said. The deal includes services at MarkWest Liberty’s Majorsville, WV, processing complex, which includes a 135 MMcf/d cryogenic processing plant. MarkWest Liberty said it is nearing completion of a second 135 MMcf/d cryogenic plant at Majorsville and is evaluating the addition of a third. Natural gas liquids (NGL) recovered at Majorsville are transported via pipeline to MarkWest Liberty’s fractionation, storage and marketing complex in Houston, PA.

DCP Midstream LLC has struck long-term agreements with Pioneer Natural Resources USA Inc., Reliance Eagleford Upstream Holding LP and Newpek LLC (combined known as Pioneer JV) to provide midstream services to handle liquids-rich production from the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas. The agreement covers gathering, processing, fractionation and marketing for Pioneer JV’s Eagle Ford production from more than 300,000 gross acres. DCP Midstream has also executed a long-term gathering and processing agreement with a privately held producer for 33,000 acres of Eagle Ford development in Wilson and Karnes counties, TX. DCP Midstream said it will construct 130 miles of 16-, 20- and 24-inch diameter gathering pipelines to support the agreements.

Questar Pipeline Co. (QPC) is holding a binding open season through Feb. 18 for firm capacity that would be created by modifying and installing facilities on its system for delivery of higher-Btu gas to Chipeta Processing LLC or other Uinta Basin processors, the pipeline said. QPC and Chipeta are coordinating efforts to provide producers in the Uinta Basin with up to 110,000 Dth/d of transportation and cryogenic processing. With adequate customer support, the new facilities could be in service by 1Q2012, QPC said. For more information contact Theresa Harrison at (801) 324-2566, or Lori Creer at (801) 324-5349, or visit www.questarpipeline.com.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized Central New York Oil and Gas Co. LLC (CYNOG) to construct and operate additional compression and appurtenant facilities to increase the throughput capacity of the North and South Lateral pipelines at its Stagecoach Storage Facility in Tioga County, NY, and Bradford County, PA. CYNOG said the increased capacity would enable it to permit contracted shippers to wheel gas bi-directionally from Millennium Pipeline to Tennessee Gas Pipeline, or from points along the laterals to either Millennium Pipeline or Tennessee Gas, on a firm basis, independent of any storage service provided at Stagecoach. Following open seasons in 2009 and 2010, CYNOG said it has entered into precedent agreements with two unaffiliated shippers for a total of 225 MMcf/d of firm wheeling capacity and with three shippers for an additional 100 MMcf/d of firm wheeling capacity.

Questerre Energy Corp. is deferring two exploration projects in its primary development area, the Utica Shale in Quebec’s St. Lawrence Lowlands, and will decide whether to proceed after the provincial government’s environmental review panel issues a report on shale gas development in February (see related story). The Calgary-based producer said it is delaying a seismic project as well as construction of a natural gas pipeline that it planned in the Saint-Edouard area, which is southwest of Quebec City. In addition to waiting for some direction from provincial leaders, Questerre said it also wants to review the results from two horizontal wells that have been completed. The producer is working with joint venture (JV) and operating partner Talisman Energy Inc. about the “consequences of its decision” to delay the completions, its impact on the JV and Questerre’s timeline for future work.

A 12-inch diameter high-pressure natural gas main that ruptured in a northeast Philadelphia neighborhood last Tuesday killed a Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) employee. Three PGW workers remained in the burn unit of Temple University Hospital. One firefighter and two other PGW employees also were injured. The explosion, which occurred in Philadelphia’s Tacony neighborhood, remains under investigation. PGW is owned by the city of Philadelphia and is the largest municipally operated gas utility in the country with about 6,000 miles of gas mains and service pipes that supply about 500,000 customers.

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