Edition 43 – Thursday, February 28, 2019

Welcome to this Thursday edition of GasNewsOnline.com.  We’ll bring you a few publicly-released news stories from the energy business, take a look at the latest interstate natural gas pipeline companies’ critical notices, and check next week’s temperature forecast from the National Weather Service.  It is all for FREE from GasNewsOnline.com.

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From the US Energy Information Administration, working gas in storage for the week ending Friday, February 22 decreased by 166 Bcf from the previous week.  The storage draw was slightly lower than the 171 Bcf estimate made by industry analysts. 

Natural gas volumes in storage are now 424 Bcf (or 21.6%) below the five-year average for the same week. 

In related news, the NYMEX natural gas futures price for April, 2019 was up a penny at about $2.81/MMBtu on Thursday. 

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On Tuesday, Dominion Energy provided the following statement:

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit denied the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s (ACP) request for an en banc rehearing related to the Court’s invalidation of the project’s U.S. Forest Service Appalachian Trail crossing authorization.  ACP’s en banc petition was supported by the Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, as well as several prominent industry, labor, and business groups.

“Dominion Energy expects an appeal to be filed to the Supreme Court of the United States in the next 90 days.  The company is also pursuing legislative and administrative options as previously discussed on Dominion Energy’s Feb. 1, 2019 earnings call.  We are confident that the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture have the authority to resolve the Appalachian Trail crossing issue administratively in a manner that satisfies the Court’s stated objection and in a time frame consistent with a restart of at least partial construction during the third quarter.  We will continue to work to resolve the outstanding biological opinion issue as well as any impediments to the project’s crossing of the Appalachian Trail, and believe, as a result, that at least partial construction will recommence in the third quarter of 2019.

“The project cost and timing guidance provided on the company’s Feb. 1 earnings call fully contemplated the possibility of an unsuccessful en banc request.  Therefore, yesterday’s Fourth Circuit decision does not alter our operating EPS guidance as provided to the investment community on that call.  Dominion Energy remains confident in the full completion of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline along the entire 600-mile route.”

The 600-mile underground Atlantic Coast Pipeline will originate in West Virginia, travel through Virginia with a lateral extending to Chesapeake, VA, and then continue south into eastern North Carolina, ending in Robeson County. Two additional, shorter laterals will connect to two Dominion Energy electric generating facilities in Brunswick and Greensville Counties.

Dominion Energy is a 48% owner of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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Western Gas Equity Partners, LP (“WGP”) and Western Gas Partners, LP (“WES”) today announced the completion of their previously announced merger of a wholly owned subsidiary of WGP with and into WES, with WES continuing as the surviving entity and a subsidiary of WGP (the “Merger”). At the effective time of the Merger, each WES common unit (other than certain WES common units held by affiliates of WGP) converted into the right to receive 1.525 WGP common units. Based on the WES units outstanding, WGP issued approximately 234 million WGP common units to WES unitholders in connection with the Merger.

Immediately following the Merger, WGP changed its name to “Western Midstream Partners, LP“, and its common units will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the ticker symbol “WES” when the market opens today. In addition, Western Gas Partners, LP has changed its name to “Western Midstream Operating, LP”, and its common units will no longer trade on the NYSE.

“With the closing of these transformational transactions, Western Midstream has a simple, clean capital structure and offers its customers a uniquely scalable and integrated, multi-commodity solution,” said Robin Fielder, Western Midstream’s Chief Executive Officer. “As a result of our organic growth opportunities and the accretive acquisition of midstream assets completed today, our portfolio is projected to deliver more than 50% Adjusted EBITDA growth year-over-year and generate healthy distribution per unit growth and coverage through 2021 without the need for equity financing.”

Effective upon the closing of the Merger, Messrs. Steven Arnold, Milton Carroll and James Crane, each of whom previously served as an independent director on the Board of Directors of Western Gas Partners, LP’s general partner, joined the Board of Directors of Western Midstream Partners, LP’s general partner.

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CenterPoint Energy Services (CES) has been ranked as the number one major Natural Gas Marketer in Mastio & Company’s recent Natural Gas Marketer Customer Value/Loyalty Benchmarking Study.

“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said Joe Vortherms, CenterPoint Energy’s Competitive Energy Businesses lead. “Our number one ranking is a testament to our employees and their commitment to providing safe and dependable services to our customers.”

CES is a leading provider of a wide range of competitive energy services to meet the unique needs of customers across the United States. CES delivers reliable natural gas and energy services to natural gas utilities, large industrials and municipalities, as well as to other large-volume market segments.

In its 22nd edition report, Mastio analyzed customers’ responses to determine their perceptions about the best supplier based on the company’s prices and the benefits it offers. CES ranked highest in several categories, including reliability of natural gas supply, speed of contract negotiations and the sales team’s knowledge.

The 2018 findings were based on interviews with more than 500 natural gas customers. The analysis also included approximately 2,400 responses to five open-ended questions regarding suppliers. The data was gathered through telephone interviews with key decision makers from August through November 2018.

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On Wednesday, the Board of Directors of Summit Midstream GP, LLC (the “Board”) has named Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Leonard Mallett, as President and Chief Executive Officer on an interim basis, effective immediately.

By mutual agreement with the Board, Steve Newby has stepped down as a director, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Summit Midstream Partners, LLC (“Summit Investments”) and Summit Midstream GP, LLC (collectively with Summit Investments, “Summit”). Mr. Mallett will maintain his COO responsibilities during this interim period. The Board has engaged an executive recruiting firm to assist it in conducting the search for a permanent CEO.

SMLP is undertaking a series of strategic actions (together referred to as the “Transaction”) to place SMLP in a stronger financial position with increased flexibility to fund accretive growth projects and settle the Deferred Purchase Price Obligation (“DPPO”) by 2020.  Among other things, the Transaction is expected to result in SMLP retaining approximately $85 million of incremental cash flow annually, which will improve its overall credit profile, reduce its cost of capital, and create a more competitive MLP, while significantly reducing its reliance on the public equity capital markets.

The Transaction consists of the following actions:

  • Sale of Tioga Midstream, a non-core gathering system in North Dakota, to affiliates of Hess Infrastructure Partners LP for $90.0 million, subject to customary closing adjustments;
  • Prepayment of $100.0 million of the DPPO and an agreement to fix the remaining obligation due in 2020 at $303.5 million;
  • Elimination of SMLP’s economic General Partner interest and incentive distribution rights (“IDRs”) in exchange for 8.75 million SMLP common units issued to a wholly owned subsidiary of Summit Investments; and
  • Establishment of a new distribution policy through the reduction of SMLP’s distribution per common unit to $0.2875 per quarter, beginning with the distribution to be paid in respect of the first quarter of 2019.

Mr. Mallett, interim President and Chief Executive Officer commented, “The Transaction announced today will drive improved operational and financial results with greater emphasis on our core focus areas, including the Utica, Williston, DJ and Permian. We are streamlining our business with a non-core asset sale, a strategy that we intend to dedicate even more focus and attention to evaluating in the near-term.  We are also positioning our balance sheet to fund attractive growth projects in 2019 as well as the DPPO by 2020, and further aligning the General Partner and the Limited Partners with the elimination of the IDRs.  We believe these actions bring notable benefits to SMLP’s credit profile, distribution coverage and cost of capital, which we believe will enhance long-term unitholder value.”

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March is roaring in like a lion as many interstate pipeline companies have posted critical notices related to cold weather for the next few days:

ANR Pipeline:

Attention All ANR Shippers and Storage Customers

Storage – Effective immediately for gas day Thursday 2/27/2019 and until further notice, per Part 6.18.12 of the ANRPL Tariff, General Terms and Conditions, Infield Storage Transfer Requests will be restricted if the request results in an increase to ANRPL’s service obligations, such as, but not limited to, requests from either Rate Schedule DDS or MBS to Rate Schedule FSS. All Infield Storage Transfer Requests will be considered on an individual basis.

Also, effective gas day Saturday 3/2/2019, Timely cycle and continuing thru gas day Wednesday 3/6/2019, in order to preserve system integrity and to ensure ANR is able to meet scheduled delivery commitments to all locations in ML7; ANR is, in accordance with the General Terms and Conditions, declaring an “Extreme Condition” as that term is defined in ANR’s FERC Gas Tariff §6.1, lowering the Swing Percentage from 10% to 5 %.

ANR is requesting, in accordance with §6.6.4 of its FERC Gas Tariff, that all receipt and delivery services, excluding ETS and FTS-3 services, to be at a uniform hourly flow rate over a twenty-four (24) hour period. ETS and FTS-3 shippers are required to be at their contractually agreed upon hourly rate.

Requests for operational flexibility with regard to variable hourly flow rates will be denied. All shippers must adhere to the flow rates applicable to the rate schedule of their nominated contract. Nominations on FTS-3 and ETS contracts to Secondary delivery gates must flow at an even-hourly rate

Requests for ITS-3 service will not be scheduled on ANR’s contiguous system in ML7,. Additionally, requests for Interruptible and Overrun delivery service on Rate Schedules ITS and IWS through Bridgman Westbound, Loc ID 226625, Sandwich Northbound, Loc Id 359925 and Crystal Falls-Fortune LK Loc Id 11661, WILL NOT be scheduled.

ANR is also reminding all MBS shippers that volumes not within operating tolerances and not at a uniform hourly flow rate of 1/24th of scheduled nominations will not be permitted.

In addition, ANR is not allowing any “Unauthorized Overrun” under Rate Schedules FTS-1, FTS-2, FTS-3, FTS-4, FTS-4L, STS and ETS. Please refer to ANR’s FERC Gas Tariff under each rate schedule for further detail.

As a reminder, per ANR’s FERC Gas Tariff §6.6.3, “Shipper will not have the right to receive quantities of Gas that it has not simultaneously nominated and delivered to Transporter at Receipt Point(s).”

ANR reserves the right to revoke any conditionally approved operational flexibility.

To clarify, ANR is NOT declaring an Operational Flow Order (OFO) at this time.

Colorado Interstate Gas (CIG):

With significantly colder temperatures and moisture being forecast beginning Saturday, March 2, 2019, CIG is anticipating an increase in demand on its system which will limit its ability to manage imbalances associated with supply shortfalls. Therefore, when necessary to minimize imbalances and protect system integrity, underperformance caps may be placed on nonperforming receipt points effective until further notice. In addition the following actions will be taken:

NNT overrun withdrawal requests will be allocated to 100,000 dth; Payback OFF the system will not be accepted; Payback ONTO the system will be approved; Absent other capacity concerns, interruptible services may be at risk. 

Columbia Gas Transmission:

Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC will be commencing service for an additional 750 MDth/d of its Mountaineer XPress (MXP) project capacity effective Gas Day Friday, March 1, 2019.   Nominations will be accepted beginning for the Timely Cycle for Gas Day Friday, March 1, 2019.  Please monitor the Daily Capacity Posting effective for Friday, March 1, 2019 for capacity changes related to MXP. 

Columbia Gulf Transmission:

Columbia Gulf Transmission, LLC began service for 530 MDth/d of its Gulf XPress (GXP) project capacity effective Wednesday, February 27, 2019.   Nominations are now being accepted.   

East Tennessee Natural Gas:

Due to impending colder weather, in order to maintain the operational integrity of the system, ETNG is issuing a Balancing Alert Operational Flow Order (OFO) pursuant to Section 14.7 of the General Terms and Conditions of ETNG’s FERC Gas Tariff effective 9:00 AM CCT, February 28, 2019 for all meters east of the Boyds Creek Compressor Station.

This OFO does not affect the ability of ETNG to receive or deliver quantities of gas for scheduled nominations to any customer, storage field, or pipeline.

During the effectiveness of this OFO, balancing parties under Rate Schedules LMSMA and LMSPA must be balanced such that actual deliveries of gas out of the system must be equal to or less than scheduled deliveries out of the system and actual receipts of gas into the system must be equal to or greater than scheduled receipts into the system. Additionally, balancing parties with meters west of Boyds Creek will not be allowed to utilize undertakes at meters located west of Boyds Creek to offset overtakes at meters located east of Boyds Creek.

The penalty provisions under Section 47.5(b) of the General Terms and Conditions of ETNG’s FERC Gas Tariff shall apply for failure to conform for each dekatherm of actual receipt quantities that are less than scheduled receipt quantities and for each dekatherm of actual delivery quantities that are greater than scheduled delivery quantities, in each case with a tolerance of 2% of scheduled quantities or 500 dekatherms (whichever is greater).

In addition, ETNG will not permit retroactive nominations to avoid an OFO penalty.

Gulf South Pipeline:

Tallulah (LA) Compressor Station Maintenance:  Start date:  February 27, 2019   End Date:  March 9, 2019

Expansion Receipts Upstream Tallulah Scheduling Group.

Capacity could be impacted by up to 100,000 dth/d for the duration of the maintenance.

Mississippi River Transmission (MRT):

Due to the potential for maximum utilization of northbound firm Main Line capacity causing a potential supply deficiency in the Market Zone, MRT is issuing a System Protection Warning (SPW) effective 9:00 a.m. Thursday, February 28, 2019 and continuing until further notice.

 During this time:

 1)           MRT may not schedule any IT or AOR volumes for delivery north of Glendale.

 2)           Firm volumes may be limited to their primary direction of flow on the system north of Glendale.

 3)           MRT may not schedule volumes that result in a daily short position in either the Market or Field Zones.

 4)           The use of imbalance positions may not be scheduled.

 5)           Pool transfers will not be permitted from MRT s Field Zone to its Market Zone.

6)           Customers with primary delivery points north of the Glendale Compressor station and a receipt point that utilizes South to North transportation, will be required to nominate and source all, or a portion of, their total nomination at primary receipt points and/or at available Market Zone supply locations, not to exceed applicable maximum receipt point quantities in order to support their primary deliveries.

7)           Shippers whose firm transportation contracts have Texas Gas Boardwalk (Boardwalk) and/or EGT Olyphant (Olyphant) and/or Noark listed as primary receipt points, must schedule the full amount of their primary receipt point quantity each of those points or, if the primary receipt point is Boardwalk and/or Olyphant, at an alternative Main Line receipt point that is north of their primary receipt point (Olyphant and/or Noark) if they desire to fully utilize their contract MDQ. Shippers may elect to forego nominating their full primary receipt point quantity at any/all of these points, however, such shipper’s maximum scheduled and confirmed contract quantity shall be limited to their contract MDQ less any primary receipt point quantity at Boardwalk and/or Olyphant and/or Noark that is not scheduled and confirmed.

 8)           Instantaneous flow rates for shippers delivering to meters located in MRT s Market Zone cannot exceed 110% of their daily entitlements.

Shippers whose deliveries are affected by any of the Seven (8) conditions above are encouraged to source supply at their primary receipt points, MRT’s East Line, MoGas, or reduce applicable delivery volumes.

Failure to comply with this SPW may result in Customers being issued an individual OFO.  Nominations will be confirmed and scheduled in accordance with MRT s Tariff.

Northern Natural Gas:

A System Overrun Limitation (SOL) has been called for all Market Area zones (ABC, D and EF) with 50% System Management Service (SMS) available for Gas Day Friday, March 1, 2019, due to lower than normal forecasted system weighted temperatures.

Northwest Pipeline:

Due to the declining deliverability at Jackson Prairie described in Notice # 19-042, and the anticipated reduction of available gas supply at Sumas beginning Wednesday, February 27 as a result of Enbridge work, Shipper compliance with Realignment and Must-Flow OFOs will be critical to avoid issuance of a Supply Shortage OFO.

If there is insufficient gas supply physically available to comply with Must-Flow OFOs, Northwest will issue a Supply Shortage OFO. Non-compliance with a Must-Flow OFO will result in penalties, unless Northwest accepts an affidavit, executed by an officer of Shipper, declaring that gas was physically unavailable for OFO compliance. Northwest will not accept such an affidavit if is aware of the physical availability of supply.

Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line:

Weather Alert – Based on current cold weather forecasts, Panhandle is preparing for increased pipeline utilization and reduced operational flexibility. Effective Gas Day Saturday, March 2, 2019, until further notice, Panhandle is requesting all delivery point operators to minimize over-takes and all receipt point operators to minimize their under-deliveries into the system. 

Intraday scheduling reductions may be implemented to ensure that nominations match actual flowing quantities. Shippers are encouraged to submit their nominations for the Timely cycle. Evening and Intraday nominations are subject to scheduling reductions based on nomination levels and physical capacity. 

The following nominations are subject to scheduling reductions based on nomination levels and physical capacity:  Interruptible and Secondary Outside-the-Path.

Similarly, all storage customers are requested to stay at or below their Maximum Daily Withdrawal Quantity (MDWQ). Storage customers should adjust flowing volumes to remain at or below these limits. 

To ensure system integrity, Power Plant Operators must have nominated supply.  Panhandle may limit Auto-Unpark nominations on the pipeline for the duration of the extreme weather. These limits will be evaluated on a daily basis.

Rover Pipeline:

Weather Alert – Based on current cold weather forecasts, Rover is preparing for reduced operational flexibility. Effective Gas Day March 2, 2019, until further notice, Rover is requesting all delivery point operators to minimize over-takes and all receipt point operators to minimize their under-deliveries into the system. Intraday scheduling reductions will be implemented to ensure that nominations match actual flowing quantities.

Rover may limit Auto-Unpark nominations on the pipeline for the duration of the extreme weather. These limits will be evaluated on a daily basis.

Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline:

Due to severe weather conditions forecasted, Southern Star is issuing a Winter Weather Warning effective Friday, March 01, 2019. The following actions will be taken to preserve system integrity:

Firm Storage withdrawals will be limited to MDWQ (AOS will not be allowed)

Customers with TSS and STS contracts should ensure that their flowing gas to storage gas withdrawal relationship is per their contractual agreements

Storage customers should ensure that their storage balances are at the appropriate levels for the duration of this notice

ISS withdrawals and PLS withdrawals will be unavailable

Incremental Loans will not be available

Imbalance makeup for gas due others (SSC off-system) will not be available

Receipt and delivery point operators should ensure that flowing volumes match confirmed scheduled quantities.

Intraday scheduling reductions will be implemented to ensure that nominations match actual flowing quantities.

Operational flexibility will not be available during this time.

Southern Star will issue underperformance notices to each point operator not delivering the scheduled quantities they had confirmed. Southern Star will unilaterally reduce scheduled quantities per the tariff to match actual flow if the delivering operator does not remedy the underperformance in accordance with the notice.

If customers do not adhere to the request, or if actual weather or operating conditions require it, Southern Star could issue a system wide, point or shipper specific OFO on short notice.

These conditions are expected to remain in effect through Wednesday, March 06, 2019.

Trunkline Gas Company:

Weather Alert – Based on current cold weather forecasts, Trunkline is preparing for increased pipeline utilization and reduced operational flexibility. Effective Gas Day Saturday, March 2, 2019, until further notice, Panhandle is requesting all delivery point operators to minimize over-takes and all receipt point operators to minimize their under-deliveries into the system. 

Intraday scheduling reductions may be implemented to ensure that nominations match actual flowing quantities. Shippers are encouraged to submit their nominations for the Timely cycle. Evening and Intraday nominations are subject to scheduling reductions based on nomination levels and physical capacity. 

The following nominations are subject to scheduling reductions based on nomination levels and physical capacity:  Interruptible and Secondary Outside-the-Path.

Similarly, all storage customers are requested to stay at or below their Maximum Daily Withdrawal Quantity (MDWQ). Storage customers should adjust flowing volumes to remain at or below these limits. 

To ensure system integrity, Power Plant Operators must have nominated supply.  Trunkline may limit Auto-Unpark nominations on the pipeline for the duration of the extreme weather. These limits will be evaluated on a daily basis.

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From the National Weather Service, the six-to-ten day temperature forecast calls for more cold weather for all areas of the lower 48 states except for the desert Southwest and south Texas through March 10.  Brr!!!

That concludes this busy Thursday edition of GasNewsOnline.com.  We’ll return on Monday to give you an update on pipeline conditions to start the new work week. 

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