New House Caucus to Focus on Natural Gas

Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., and Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Penn., are laying the groundwork for a bipartisan Congressional Natural Gas Caucus. The objective is to boost the profile of the energy source.
The move adds to recent activity aimed at making sure natural gas does not lose in climate change legislation.
With the goal to inform and educate their colleagues and others about the potential for natural gas to meet the nation’s future energy needs, Boren and Murphy said they are recruiting members of Congress.
The districts represented by Boren and Murphy both are home to large supplies of natural gas. In Oklahoma, Boren’s 2nd District includes the Woodford Shale. The natural gas play in the McAlester area has created a drilling boom in southeast Oklahoma.
“A growing number of states” are focusing on newly discovered deposits of the fossil fuel, Boren said.
The economic impact of the natural gas industry in southwestern Pennsylvania makes use of the fuel a vital issue to Murphy’s district, he said.

North American M&A Activity Surges in 3Q2009
A drop in U.S. natural gas prices in late August contributed to a surge in global merger and acquisition activity in the third quarter.
There were 112 transactions worth almost $21 billion, according to an analysis by Houston-based PLS Inc. and Derrick Petroleum Services. North American transactions led all others.

Pipe Construction Most Active in 2008
Eighty-four natural gas pipeline projects were completed last year in the lower 48 states.
The figure represents the most pipeline construction activity in a single year in more than a decade, the Energy Information Administration reported.
Construction activity was robust everywhere except the West.

Murphy Oil Buys Ethanol Plant
Murphy Oil Corp. bought a corn-based ethanol plant for $92 million. It is the first purchase into biofuel manufacturing for the Arkansas-based independent petroleum producer, refiner and marketer.
“Given the current ethanol mandates and our subsequent blending needs, having more of a presence in the supply chain better balances our business,” said president and CEO David Wood in a statement.
Murphy will put about $15 million in working capital into the Hankinson, N.D.-based facility. The plant has annual production capacity of 110 million gallons.

Energy Analysts Say Gas Output Declines Still Modest
The Energy Information Administration reports that domestic onshore natural gas production began to decline in June.
But, energy analysts said the drop in drilling and production may not have come soon enough to correct the gas storage glut.

EPA’s Proposed Emissions Rule Targets Large Emitters
The Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed rule that would allow for the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters under the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act.

Utility Switches Plant from Coal to Gas
Progress Energy Inc. won regulatory approval to replace a North Carolina coal-fired power plant with one that will burn natural gas to generate electricity.
A spokesman for the Raleigh-based utility said the North Carolina Utilities Commission advised the company of its decision to allow construction of generators that will use the cleaner-burning fuel. Spokesman Mike Hughes said Progress Energy will begin construction in early 2011 and shut down its coal-fired Wayne County plant in about four years.
The company filed for regulator approval of its plan to retire the H.F. Lee plant’s three coal-fired units less than two months ago after state legislators approved a streamlined review process in July.

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