The partners behind Kitimat LNG plan to acquire the 50% interest in Pacific Trail Pipelines LP they don’t already own from Pacific Northern Gas Ltd. (PNG) for $50 million. The deal is intended to support export of gas from the Horn River Basin and other Western Canada plays as liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asian markets. Apache Canada Ltd. and EOG Resources Canada Inc. said they will pay PNG $30 million on closing, which is expected by the end of February, and make a second payment of $20 million when the partners decide to proceed with construction of the Kitimat LNG export facility at Bish Cove, BC (see NGI, Jan. 3).

ConocoPhillips plans to spend $13.5 billion for its 2011 capital program, with almost 90% set aside to support exploration and production (E&P). The E&P spending, set at about $12 billion, includes about $1.7 billion for worldwide exploration. About half of the budget, or $6 billion will be directed to North America, mostly in liquids-rich resource plays. In the Lower 48 states capital funding is to focus on the Eagle Ford, Bakken and Barnett shales, as well as the Permian Basin. Ongoing development also will continue in the San Juan Basin. In addition the company plans to continue to contribute to the Marine Well Containment Co., the rapid-response company that would capture and contain oil and gas in the event of a deepwater well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico (see related story). Spending in Canada this year is to be directed to existing oilsands projects and “selective programs” in Western Canada’s gas basins.

Consol Energy Inc. has proved gas reserves of 3.7 Tcf as of the end of last year, marking an increase of 1.8 Tcf, or 95%, from the 1.9 Tcf reported at year-end 2009. Coalbed methane and a “nice jump” in the Marcellus Shale were credited for the growth. Proved developed reserves increased by 86% and proved undeveloped reserves increased 107%. Of the 3.7 Tcf of proved reserves, 52% are categorized as proved developed and 48% are classified as proved undeveloped. The company has total proved, probable and possible reserves of 14.2 Tcf as of Dec. 31, representing an increase of 7.7 Tcf, or 118%, from the 6.5 Tcf reported at year-end 2009, it said. More than 99% of Consol’s proved reserves are gas.

Cheniere Energy Partners LP unit Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC is in talks to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States to the Dominican Republic. It’s the latest announcement of LNG export discussions by the company as it seeks to develop gas liquefaction capability at an existing import terminal in Louisiana (see NGI, Jan. 24). Sabine has signed memoranda of understanding with Empresa Generadora de Electricidad Haina SA and Compania de Electricidad de San Pedro de Macoris, both managed by Basic Energy. Basic intends to buy up to 0.6 million metric tons of LNG per year, Cheniere said. The Dominican Republic is a free-trade nation, and Sabine has received approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to export LNG to nations with free-trade status.

U.S. producers would lose their competitive edge on many international energy development projects if long-standing rules on taxing foreign income are revised, according to a study commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API). Legislative proposals offered by the Obama administration would significantly alter how foreign tax payments by U.S.-based companies on their foreign income would be treated for U.S. tax purposes, essentially subjecting them to double taxation on foreign operations, according to the study, which was prepared by Scotland-based Wood Mackenzie. As a result, API said U.S. producers would face potentially lower returns investing in foreign oil and natural gas projects, would bid on fewer projects and would successfully bid less often. The study indicates that the proposed change in tax treatment would provide an enormous investment advantage to international competitors operating under the old rules, resulting in net present values of development projects to foreign investors of as much as 110% greater than to U.S. investors.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have been awarded a $412,000, three-year grant by the Heinz Endowments to identify and mitigate the effects of Marcellus Shale natural gas exploration and development on the state’s forest ecosystem. The interdisciplinary research team, led by two faculty members in the College of Agricultural Sciences, will evaluate landscape change as a result of gas exploration disturbances, assess local and landscape-scale changes to the forest ecosystem and develop an electronic field guide for onsite remediation and wildlife habitat enhancement at Marcellus drilling sites. The team also plans to pilot a long-term citizen-science based monitoring program to track changes to the physical landscape and biotic communities.

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