TransCanada proposes new Keystone XL route in Nebraska

WASHINGTON, Wed Sep 5, 2012 – The company planning to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada to Texas said on Wednesday it has submitted a new route for the project that will avoid sensitive ecological areas in Nebraska.

TransCanada Corp.  said the pipeline will avoid the Sandhills, a region of prairie and sand dunes that is rich in plants and wildlife, with thousands of ponds and lakes.

President Barack Obama delayed a decision on the pipeline earlier this year, citing concerns about the northern portion of the route near a major aquifer and the Sandhills in Nebraska.

TransCanada has been working with Nebraska officials to come up with a new route and it hopes to have U.S. State Department approval for the northern section early next year.

“Based on feedback from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the public, we have refined our proposed routing,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said in the release.

The alternative route submitted in an environmental report to Nebraska on Wednesday was developed “based on extensive feedback from Nebraskans, and reflects our shared desire to minimize the disturbance of land and sensitive resources in the state,” said Girling.

A Nebraska public affairs official said he expected the state to publish maps of the new route on its website later on Wednesday.

An environmentalist said she would withhold comment on the new route until she had seen a map of the project.

A public affairs official with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality said he expected the state to publish maps of the new route on its website later on Wednesday.

Construction on the 700,000 barrels per day southern part of the line, renamed the Gulf Coast project, has already begun after Obama gave his support for that section.

The Gulf Coast project will drain a glut of crude in the U.S. midsection fed mostly by the oil boom in North Dakota.

The northern section of the line needs approval from the State Department because it crosses the national border.

Chesapeake to sell pipeline assets for more than $4 billion

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Fri Jun 8, 2012 – Chesapeake Energy Corp. will sell its pipeline and related assets to Global Infrastructure Partners in three separate transactions worth more than $4 billion, as the company scrambles to plug an expected $9 billion to $10 billion funding shortfall.

Chesapeake, the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer, is under pressure to sell assets and cut spending to reduce debt after tumbling natural gas prices have pinched profits. The company, which is holding its annual meeting later on Friday, has also come under intense scrutiny for corporate governance issues.

Chesapeake said it will sell its limited partner units and general partner interests in Chesapeake Midstream Partners LP to infrastructure fund GIP for $2 billion.

The company also entered into an agreement with Chesapeake Midstream Partners for potential sale of certain Mid-Continent gathering and processing assets.

It also has a agreement with Global Infrastructure Partners for the sale its interests in wholly owned subsidiary Chesapeake Midstream Development LP.

Chesapeake expects to raise more than $2 billion from the latter two transactions.

Chesapeake Midstream Partners has more than 3,700 miles of natural gas gathering pipelines, according to the company’s website. Chesapeake also held about 1,950 miles of pipelines in the Chesapeake Midstream Development unit as of the end of last year, according to regulatory filings.

Chesapeake has said it will sell as much as $11.5 billion in assets this year in order to reduce its funding gap. Last month, the company arranged for a pricey $4 billion loan from its investment bankers to tide it over.

TransCanada to seek new U.S. permit for Keystone pipeline: report

WASHINGTON, Fri May 4, 2012 – TransCanada Corp. will ask the U.S. government as early as Friday for approval to build the $7.6 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline which has been put on hold due to environmental concerns, the Washington Post reported late on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

According to one of the sources who declined to be identified, one segment of the pipeline – from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Texas – does not need a permit from the State Department and would not be part of the company’s application for approval, the newspaper said.

The company, however, is expected to stick to its plan to build the pipeline through Nebraska, a route that would help it avoid ecologically sensitive areas, the paper said. The project would originate in Alberta, Canada.

President Barack Obama put the massive project on hold this year after influential environmental groups vehemently opposed it, saying the pipeline would cross an important aquifer, which raised the risk pose by any spills.

Environmentalists also argue the crude it would bring from Canada’s oil sands is dirtier than other types of crude oil.

The U.S. House of Representatives, however, has voted four times in the past two years to speed up the construction of the pipeline, and the project has become a tool for Republicans to attack Obama’s economic and energy policies ahead of November presidential elections.

House to try again to advance Keystone pipeline

WASHINGTON, Fri Apr 13, 2012 – Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives will revive efforts to quickly advance the stalled Keystone XL crude oil pipeline and insist that approval for the project be part of a long-term deal to fund highways and other infrastructure.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama put a hold on TransCanada’s $7 billion project, which would ship oil from Canada and northern U.S. states to Texas, because he said it needed further environmental review.

Republicans have attacked the decision by the Democratic president in the run-up to the November presidential elections, saying the United States needs the jobs and the oil as the economy continues to struggle and gasoline prices surge.

Last month, Republicans in the Senate tried to attach approval for the pipeline to a two-year highway funding bill. The bid failed on a vote of 56-42, four short of the 60 needed to pass in the Democratic-controlled chamber. Eleven Democrats voted with the Republicans.

Congress ended up passing a 90-day stopgap funding bill after House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, struggled to find enough support for long-term financing.

“As Congress now prepares to extend transportation programs and negotiate a longer-term package, the House will insist that the Keystone XL legislation be included as part of the package,” the House Energy and Commerce Committee said on its web site on Friday.

The House has already passed legislation that would transfer authority for approving the pipeline to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and would require the regulator to quickly issue permits.

Kinder Morgan expects clearances for $21 billion El Paso deal

HOUSTON ― Kinder Morgan Inc’s. planned takeover of El Paso Corp. in a $21 billion deal that would create the largest oil and gas pipeline company in North America will receive regulatory clearances because there is little asset overlap, Rich Kinder, Kinder Morgan’s chief executive, said on Monday.

“We certainly anticipate we will obviously have to comply with the regulator, in this case, the (U.S. Federal Trade Commission), and we’ll work with them to satisfy whatever their concerns are; but we don’t see that as a major obstacle and we do expect to close, we’re thinking, in the second quarter of next year,” Kinder told investors on a conference call.

As part of the planned deal, Kinder plans to sell El Paso’s exploration and production assets. That deal is expected to close in the second quarter and proceeds will be applied to acquisition debt, Kinder told investors.

El Paso’s exploration and production business, which includes assets in the hot Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, is valued at $9.2 billion, according to analysts at Houston investment energy bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co.

The two companies do have some pipelines that overlap in the U.S. Rocky Mountains, Kinder said, adding that the company would work with regulators on the issue.

Shares of El Paso climbed 24 percent to $24.25 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading. Shares of Kinder Morgan climbed 8 percent to $29.13.