Midweek Energy Updates: September 13, 2017

The full version of these articles will appear in The Foster Report No. 3165, published on September 15, 2017.


Florida Southeast Responds to Sierra Club Challenge of Okeechobee Lateral Project

September 11, 2017

Florida Southeast Connection, LLC, on September 6, responded to the Sierra Club’s recent protest of the blanket certificate application (CP17–463) for the Okeechobee lateral project.[1]

In the filing, Florida Southeast requested that FERC deny the Sierra Club’s protest because it is without merit, waive the 30-day reconciliation period, and authorize the lateral no later than December 1.

Florida Southeast is a wholly owned subsidiary of Next Era Energy. It owns and operates the 126-mile Florida Southeast Connection pipeline in central Florida, which began operations in June.

The Okeechobee lateral is a 5.2 mile, 20-inch diameter gas pipeline that would connect Florida Southeast’s mainline to Florida Power and Light’s Okeechobee Clean Energy Center, which is a proposed natural gas plant that is expected to begin service in 2019.

Florida Southeast filed its application to construct the lateral on June 14. The pipeline would deliver 400,000 mcf/d to the power plant. It has a cost of $30.1 million.

[1] See, Sierra Club Challenges Florida Southeast Lateral in Light of Court Decision, FR No. 3163, pp. 29-30.


Trump Taps CSX Executive Howard Elliott to be PHMSA Administrator

September 11, 2017

President Donald Trump intends to nominate longtime railroad executive Howard (Skip) Elliott to be Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) at the Department of Transportation, the White House said in a September 8 announcement.

Elliott is a 40-year veteran of the freight rail industry, serving as group vice president of public safety, health, environment and security for CSX Transportation in Jacksonville, Florida, for the last 10 years, the White House said. His background includes responsibility for hazardous materials transportation safety, homeland security, crisis management, environmental compliance and operations, railroad policing, and other measures.

“He is a pioneer and leading advocate in developing and implementing computer-based tools to assist emergency management officials, first responders, and homeland security personnel in preparing for and responding to a railroad hazardous materials or security incident,” the White House said.

The PHMSA administrator position requires Senate approval. The post has been vacant since the departure of former administrator Marie Therese Dominquez, who served under former President Barack Obama, although recent Trump appointee Drue Pearce has served as acting administrator.


West Virginia DEP Rescinds Water Quality Certificate for Mountain Valley Pipeline

September 12, 2017

In preparation for a legal appeal involving Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) vacated the water quality certificate it approved for Mountain Valley on 3/23/17, a spokesman for the DEP told The Foster Report.

The DEP, in a short September 7 letter to Mountain Valley sponsors and other agencies, said it “vacates and remands” the water quality certificate issued under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The certificate is needed for construction of the project to move about 2 Bcf/d of natural gas from Appalachian production regions to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Mountain Valley, a planned 301-mile pipeline project in West Virginia and Virginia, has a Natural Gas Act (NGA) application (CP16-10) pending at FERC and Virginia regulators have not ruled on the needed CWA water quality certificate in that state.

A spokeswoman for Mountain Valley said project sponsors continue to target a full in-service date in late 2018. The project development team shares the DEP’s “interest in protecting the environment along this important project’s proposed route, and we look forward to continuing to work with the department and other stakeholders to ensure the state’s Section 401 Water Quality Certification complies with federal requirements,” the spokeswoman said.


EIA Sees Hurricane Harvey Impacts Lasting in Latest Short-Term Outlook

September 12, 2017

The energy sector operations centered in Houston and along the Gulf Coast are continuing to feel the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which has affected some projections and added uncertainty to the forecasts in the latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the agency said September 12.

Oil and gas production declined and refinery operations saw significant reductions following Harvey’s impact and related flooding, with both of those elements returning to normal but taking time to reach pre-hurricane levels, EIA said.

U.S. regular gasoline prices reached $2.69/gallon on September 11, up 29 cents/gallon from August 28 and the highest weekly average since August 2015, EIA said. The agency is projecting retail gasoline prices to average $2.61/gallon in September and $2.40/gallon in October, which are higher than what was predicted in its August STEO. December gasoline prices are forecast to fall to $2.23/gallon.

Gross refinery runs averaged 14.8 million barrels per day during the week ending September 1, down by 3.1 million b/d from the previous week and below the 17.1 million b/d estimated average in August, EIA said. At the peak of refinery disruptions, an estimated 3.9 million b/d of Gulf Coast refining capacity was offline.

“EIA expects refinery runs in September to average 15.2 million barrels per day, well below the August level, but runs should increase in October,” said John Conti, acting administrator at EIA.


These articles will appear as published in The Foster Report No. 3165, being issued on September 15, 2017

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