South Korea’s Korean National Oil Corp. (KNOC) said it has joined the consortium buying El Paso Corp.’s exploration and production (E&P) business. Apollo Global Management, Riverstone Holdings and Access Industries in February agreed to pay El Paso $7.15 billion to buy the E&P unit to facilitate the company’s takeover by Kinder Morgan Inc. (see Daily GPI, Feb. 27). KNOC and a unit of Samsung Group in late 2011 bought Barnett Shale-focused Parallel Petroleum from Apollo in a transaction worth an estimated $800 million (see Daily GPI, Dec. 1, 2011).
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A study of the electricity needs in the oil/natural gas patch was funded Monday by the North Dakota Industrial Commission for upcoming work to be overseen by the state’s power transmission authority. Separately, the commission also authorized paying for another study of future natural gas growth in the state.
Exploration and field development in the largest continuous shale oil play in the Lower 48 states, the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana, will be guided by new geo-models developed with funding from the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE).
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said up to $4.5 million in grants is being made available to support development of a network of natural gas vehicle (NGV) fueling stations in Texas. The TCEQ Clean Transportation Triangle grants are part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and are offered to entities that intend to build natural gas fueling stations along interstate highways connecting Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth (see Daily GPI, Jan. 17). The stations must be located no more than three miles from the interstate highways and must be made available to the public. A preference will be given to stations providing both liquefied natural gas and compressed natural gas at a single location and to stations located not more than one mile for an interstate highway system. The application deadline is April 16. For information visit www.terpgrants.org, or call (800) 919-8377.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Mary Jo White recently said she would not seek reelection this year after 14 years in office. The Republican from Venango County in northwestern Pennsylvania has chaired the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for the past 12 years, placing her in the middle of the current debate over Marcellus Shale legislation. Under her watch, the committee crafted an impact fee on unconventional natural gas drilling (see Shale Daily, Jun 15, 2011) and increased coordination between gas drilling and coal mining (see Shale Daily, May 17, 2011). Before running for office, White served as a public defender in Venango and worked as the vice president of environmental and governmental affairs for Quaker State Corp.
Margaret N. Schneider has been tapped to be deputy director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), BSEE Director James A. Watson said. Schneider was senior advisor to the BSEE director and also assisted with policy reviews and managed special projects. Prior to working with BSEE, she spent 30 years in the Environmental Protection Agency. In her new post, Schneider will assist Watson with the enforcement of safety and environmental regulations governing the Outer Continental Shelf.
Washington state regulatory staff said it plans to recommend deep cuts in Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) proposed $182 million natural gas and electric general rate increase request. The staff is recommending a total increase of a little more than $40 million annually to the three-member Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC). Bellevue, WA-based PSE proposed increasing retail gas utility rates by $30 million annually and electric rates by $152 million. Public comments are still being taken by the UTC, which will hold hearings on the rate case Feb. 1 and 15. The proposed rate changes are slated to take effect May 1.
Rapid City, SD-based Black Hills Corp.’s Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power utility said it has filed with the Wyoming Public Service Commission to recover natural gas and electric infrastructure costs with its first general rate increase request since 2008. The company seeks annual increases of $2.6 million, or 6.7%, for gas utility customers and $5.9 million, or 5.9%, for power consumers. The combination utility also is seeking a 10.9% authorized return on equity and a 54-46% equity-to-debt ratio as part of the rate request to be effective April 1 next year. Residential customers using both electricity and gas would face a combined average monthly utility bill increase of close to $10 ($5.14/month for gas and $4.33/month for electricity). Cheyenne Light serves 34,600 gas customers and 39,600 electric customers.
Citing unplanned engine maintenance at Buttermilk Compressor Station in its Southwest Gathering Area, ANR said based on high line pressures and current operating conditions it was required to reduce receipt nominations at its CenterPoint interconnect in the area to zero Tuesday through Dec. 10.