Industry Brief

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) late last Friday filed its second annual report to state regulators summarizing its progress on current and future work aimed at improving its natural gas system’s safety as mandated by a state law (SB 705) passed in 2011 in response to the 2010 San Bruno transmission pipeline failure. Under its pipeline safety enhancement plan, PG&E told the California Public Utilities Commission that it has strength-tested 456 miles of its 6,750-mile gas transmission pipeline system. The utility said its has installed 76 automated shutoff valves on critical parts of the system while validating the safe operating pressure for the entire system. In addition, the utility said it is pursuing an internationally recognized gas safety certification for its system called “Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 55”; it also has established an employee-led company wide, grassroots safety committee to promote safe work habits, best practices and open communications; and it has a new Corrective Action Program to collect and act on gas system issues and ideas though a central internal company processing center. In addition, PG&E said its ongoing gas safety plan overall has been reviewed by several outside parties and includes input from employees at all levels of the PG&E gas operations organization.

July 2, 2013

California Moves to Add Competitive Gas Storage

California regulators Thursday approved a 50% increase in the working capacity of one of the state’s largest merchant-based underground natural gas storage facilities, Wild Goose Storage LLC, which is about 50 miles north of Sacramento.

July 1, 2013

Industry Brief

Idaho regulators are looking at the latest integrated resource plan (IRP) of PacifiCorp’s Rocky Mountain Power unit, which assumes modest 1.1% annual growth and some changes in coal-fired power generation, including the retirement of a unit and replacement with a new natural gas-fired generation facility. Salt Lake City-based Rocky Mountain is the PacifiCorp operating utility in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Part of the IRP filed with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) calls for Rocky Mountain converting its Naughton Unit 3 coal-fired plant near Kemmerer, WY, to a natural gas-fired plant, and installing emissions control equipment on coal units in Utah (Hunter Unit 1) and Wyoming (Jim Bridger Units 3 and 4). The utility said that these plans are not final, due to the uncertainty of the future federal carbon tax legislation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final new standards for power plants. The PUC said it is taking comments from the public through Aug. 8.

July 1, 2013

Industry Briefs

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) has approved a multi-year rate plan for Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to increase annual limits for natural gas and electricity rates over the next three to four years. PSE’s gas rates would increase by $9.1 million, or 1.55%, and power rates would increase by $52.3 million, or 3.34%, effective Monday (July 1). Rates may increase over the period by a maximum of 3%, with any excess amounts recovered the following year. Also as part of the approval, UTC separated utility profits from sales levels. The so-called “decoupling” allows the utility to recover fixed costs regardless of how much gas and electricity it sells.

June 27, 2013

Forbes U.S. Billionaires Prefer Shale

Any U.S. oil and gas wildcatter looking for a way to get on the Forbes annual Billionaires list might take a hint from some of the interests among those who made this year’s list, published Monday. They like oil and they like natural gas, and many of them especially like shale.

June 26, 2013

DOE Lets Out A Little More of the Shale Gale

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) apparently has come to the conclusion that U.S. shale gas is too good a thing to not share with the rest of the world in larger quantities.

May 20, 2013
Pennsylvania Producer Impact Fees Nearly $203M in 2012

Pennsylvania Producer Impact Fees Nearly $203M in 2012

Natural gas producers in Pennsylvania have paid most of the $202.7 million owed under the drilling impact fee enacted under Act 13, the state’s omnibus Marcellus Shale law.

May 15, 2013

Colorado Lawmakers Block New Oil, Gas Restraints

With only one day to go before the Colorado General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn, the energy industry and Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, have quashed nearly all proposed legislation to revise state oil and gas regulations.

May 8, 2013

Investor Revolt Sends Oxy Chairman Irani Packing

Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) Chairman Ray Irani on Friday withdrew as a nominee to serve another term on the board of directors, and he was a no-show for the company’s annual meeting in Santa Monica, CA, Oxy said.

May 6, 2013


Occidental Petroleum Corp. (Oxy) Chairman Ray Irani withdrew as a nominee to serve another term on the board of directors, and he was a no-show for the company’s annual meeting in Santa Monica, CA, on Friday (May 3), Oxy said. Edward Djerejian, a former U.S. diplomat who served as an ambassador to Israel and who is a former assistant secretary of State, is assuming the role of independent chairman. He has been an independent director since 1996. Spencer Abraham, the former secretary of Energy for President George W. Bush, was elected independent vice chairman. Irani, 78, had worked at Oxy since 1978, taking over as chairman and CEO in 1990 after founder Armand Hammer died. Irani, who had planned to retire in 2014, had turned over the CEO post two years ago to Steve Chazen, 66, who had served in the executive suite since 1994. Earlier this year Irani had attempted to oust Chazen, which led to criticism by major shareholders. However, days ago the board said Chazen would remain CEO through 2014 “with full board support.”

May 6, 2013