Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bear Paw Energy building natural gas processing plants in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. - A North Dakota energy company plans to build two new natural gas processing plants northwest of Williston.

Bear Paw Energy is also planning construction of a 64-mile pipeline to carry natural gas liquids into Montana. Natural gas liquids include propane and butane.

Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said the two plants will be capable of processing 200 million cubic feet of natural gas each day.

Cramer says the processing plants will cost about $275 million to build. The pipeline will cost about $24 million. It will be capable of carrying up to 65,000 barrels a day of natural gas liquids.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Key player in Canada's oil sands PR push accused of influence peddling

A former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper - now at the center of a major political scandal - worked closely with Canada's biggest energy companies in recent years to improve the public image of Alberta's oil sands.

That advisor, Bruce Carson, 66, did this while leading an academic think tank funded with $15 million in Canadian federal money. He is accused of using his influence to land a lucrative contract for his 22-year-old fiancé, a former prostitute.

What this suggests, say environmental advocates, is that the line dividing Harper's Conservative government from Canada's oil industry is very blurry, if it exists at all.

"Carson is the spider at the center of the web ... directing the whole pro-tar sands effort," Greenpeace Canada's Keith Stewart told The Tyee. "He's been moving between the political and business worlds to make that happen."

The close relationship between Canadian government officials and major oil companies has existed since at least 2008, when a lobbying coalition formed to battle clean energy laws in the United States.

Carson's oil sands connections are less well known than the lobbying which has landed him in the middle of an RCMP investigation.

Allegations of Harper's criminal influence-peddling have created a national scandal for his Conservative government.

Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff jumped on the Carson case to gain political ammunition for what many observers expect to be an imminent federal election.

Greenpeace's Stewart said that significant in the long-term are Carson's close connections to Alberta's oil sands industry.

Until Carson left the Prime Minister's Office in 2008, he was considered one of Harper's top political advisors a "grey-haired sage," according to one insider.

Carson left to become executive director for the Canada School of Energy and Environment, a think-tank started with $15 million in federal government money the year before.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Palomar Gas Transmissions LLC pulls FERC application, cites low demand

GRANTS PASS, Ore. - Developers of a natural gas pipeline intended to bring new supplies to the Portland metro area have pulled their application from federal regulators, citing the bankruptcy of a terminal on the Columbia River, low demand for gas, and development of a new route across the Cascade Range.

Palomar Gas Transmissions LLC notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 23 that it was withdrawing its Palomar Pipeline project.

The 220-mile, $750 million project was a joint venture of NW Natural and TransCanada U.S. Pipelines.

It was originally planned to carry gas from the now-defunct Bradwood Landing liquid natural gas terminal in Clatsop County and the Northwest Pipeline on the east side of the Cascades to the Portland area.

TransCanada spokesman David Dodson said from Houston that the eastern half of the project would be revived when market conditions improved. It could take a new route through the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, reducing the mileage across Mount Hood National Forest and crossings of federally protected rivers.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunoco Logistics plans to convert pipeline to ethane transport

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. of Philadelphia announced plans on March 22 to convert an existing pipeline to deliver ethane from Marcellus Shale drilling areas to industrial customers in Ontario, Canada.

Sunoco Logistics, the pipeline affiliate of Sunoco Inc., said it would join with MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources L.L.C. to develop the project. MarkWest Liberty is a partnership between MarkWest Energy Partners L.P. and the Energy & Minerals Group, an investment fund.

The partnership will use new and existing pipelines to transport up to 65,000 barrels a day of ethane from Western Pennsylvania to petrochemical customers in Sarnia, Ontario.

Marcellus wells in southwestern Pennsylvania produce a sidestream of high-value liquid hydrocarbons such as ethane, butane and propane, which must be separated at plants operated by companies such as MarkWest, a Colorado firm.

Ethane is a major ingredient in ethylene, which is used to produce plastics.

The companies declined to estimate the project's cost or earnings projections. Thomas P. Golembeski, Sunoco's spokesman, said the project was expected to go online in the third quarter of 2012.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Energy Transfer, Regency to pay $1.93 billion for LDH Energy

DALLAS, Texas - Energy Transfer Partners LP (NYSE: ETP), the third-largest U.S. pipeline partnership, on March 22 announced that will join with an affiliate to buy a pipeline and natural-gas liquids processing plants in Texas for $1.93 billion in cash.

Energy Transfer and Regency Energy Partners LP (Nasdaq: RGNC) will buy LDH Energy Asset Holdings LLC, which owns and operates a natural-gas liquids storage, fractionation and transportation business, the companies said in a statement.

LDH owns and operates a natural gas liquids, or NGL, storage, fractionation and transportation business. LDH's storage assets are primarily located in Mont Belvieu, Texas, one of the largest NGL storage, distribution and trading complexes in North America. Its West Texas Pipeline transports NGLs through a 1,066-mile intrastate pipeline system that originates in the Permian Basin in west Texas, passes through the Barnett Shale production area in north Texas and terminates at the Mont Belvieu storage and fractionation complex. LDH also owns and operates fractionation and processing assets located in Louisiana.

Energy Transfer will pay $1.35 billion for 70 percent of a joint venture that will own the assets, and Regency will pay $578 million for the remaining 30 percent stake. Energy Transfer Partners will operate the assets, the companies, both based in Dallas, said in the statement.

The purchase "suits us very well at a time when we really are trying to move into the transfer of liquids," Kelcy Warren, chief executive officer of Energy Transfer, said in an interview. "We haven't been a big player in that market; that’s about to change."

Energy Transfer and Regency are both controlled by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Equity LP. (NYSE: ETE).

The joint venture will be controlled by a two-member board with a representative from each company. The companies said they will initially finance the purchase with their existing revolving credit lines.