“Orphan” wells, investing in infrastructure, and high tech coal; Also, will oil sanctions mean a big gas bill for Memorial Day travel?

State agencies at odds over new law to address ‘orphan’ oil wells
Elizabeth Harball, KTOO, May 22, 2019

A few small oil companies have gone bankrupt in Alaska in recent years, leaving the state or other landowners on the hook for cleaning up the wells they left behind. So this month, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission started requiring oil and gas companies to put up substantially higher bonds to cover the wells they have drilled. After a years-long push to update the law, the commission raised the bond amount to between $400,000 and $30 million, depending on how many wells a company has. Previously, the bond requirement was capped at $200,000. But a different state agency — the Department of Natural Resources — is criticizing the new law and asking for it to be rescinded.

Our take: We have listened to many committee hearings where legislators ask, “Why is there so much talk about uncertain regulations?” Continual changes like this are counterproductive to investment in the state. No one advocates against strict regulations and responsible development, but as DNR states, these bonds would certainly be “unduly burdensome” to smaller operators.

The Critical Importance of Investing in American Energy Infrastructure
Robin Rorick, RealClear Energy, May 22, 2019

For these reasons and more, demand for natural gas and oil has grown across the country. Upgrading our nation’s pipelines, storage tanks, export terminals, waterways, ports and more, is vital to delivering the reliable and affordable flow of energy resources we all count on to cook our food, heat our homes and improve the quality of our lives. The United States leads the world in natural gas and oil production, yet there are manufacturers, businesses and American families in parts of the country who aren’t adequately connected to America’s energy abundance – and won’t be without new and/or expanded state of the art pipelines and other infrastructure to deliver energy to markets and consumers.

Our take: As mentioned, many of these infrastructure improvements are beneficial in that they improve the safety and efficiency of energy transport, therefore lowering the opportunity for spills and providing many skilled labor jobs for the US. A win-win in our opinion.

Michael Bastasch, The Daily Caller, May 23, 2019 

  • Iranian plans to disrupt the oil trade will likely involve hampering the world’s busiest oil choke point: the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Disrupting the oil trade could send oil prices upward, making it more expensive for Americans to fill up their gas tanks.
  • It’s part of Iran’s plan to make the U.S. feel economic pain and divide the international community over sanctions.

Alaska energy lease sales draw meager interest: officials
Yereth Rosen, Reuters, May 22, 2019

Hilcorp Energy Company’s Alaska unit submitted bids for three tracts comprising 10,286 acres in the Cook Inlet region, said Kyle Smith, leasing manager for the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas. About 4 million acres of offshore and onshore territory was offered in the Cook Inlet sale.  It was the poorest showing for the state’s annual Cook Inlet lease sale since 2016, when no bids were submitted. Cook Inlet sales in 2012, 2013 and 2014 attracted spirited bidding.

Related: Hilcorp lone Cook Inlet bidder for third straight year

Report: Coal’s revival is in high tech
Amy Harder, Axios, May 23, 2019

A new report commissioned by the Energy Department recommends promoting coal for use in other, higher tech ways than electricity. It finds that coal can be refined into what can seem like limitless products, but the ones with the most growth potential include:

  • Carbon fiber as a lighter weight and stronger replacement for steel and aluminum in cars, wind turbines and more.
  • Rare earth minerals, which are used in a wide variety of renewable energy technologies.
  • Graphene, a material used in medical devices.

Hurdles galore for offshore energy, EPA analysis & carbon taxes

Politicians are blocking America’s offshore energy boom
Jim Nicholson, Fox Business, May 21, 2019

In April, the South Carolina Senate advanced a measure that would prohibit the use of state funds for any infrastructure projects related to offshore development. Virginia lawmakers considered similar measures earlier this year. This tactic, though clever, ultimately has potential to harm the coastal communities that lawmakers say they want to protect. Blocking energy infrastructure projects deprives workers of good jobs and weakens our energy and national security.

Our take: “Tapping these energy deposits could support 730,000 American jobs and generate nearly $120 billion in cumulative tax revenues for the federal government over the next 20 years.” We’ve heard this song many times up here in the Last Frontier, most recently regarding the opening of ANWR. This echoes Rexford’s voice from yesterday—let us work toward responsible resource development, get locals into the workforce, and allow for financial independence and stability of the associated regions.

 EPA pursues new cost-benefit analysis for regulation that critics fear will undermine climate rules
John Siciliano, The Washington Examiner, May 21, 2019

The top goal of the action is to ensure the agency balances benefits and costs, Wheeler said, and that one is not considered more than another. Environmentalists decried the memo as a threat to efforts to curb climate change on the grounds that it would undermine the need for new regulations. But industry groups praised the memo as a salutary transparency measure.

From the Daily on Energy:

CENTER-RIGHT GROUP SAYS TIME ISN’T RIPE FOR A CARBON TAX: A conservative group that is working to develop Republican messaging on climate change doesn’t see this week’s big industry push to bolster a carbon tax making much of a difference, at least not right now.

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions has been very busy working with Republican members on forming legislative principles to address climate change, but it doesn’t see a carbon tax as a part of that effort, the group’s executive director Heather Reams said in an interview. “We are more agnostic on a carbon tax” because it’s not “politically viable,” said Reams. Reams acknowledged that there are a number of center-right groups that advocate for a carbon tax, but she says it gives her more room to maneuver without it.

BP and Shell, along with dozens of other companies, descended on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday to show their support for a carbon tax. The two oil companies also forked over $2 million to help the Republican-led Climate Leadership Council’s advocacy wing push for its carbon tax and dividend plan.

A carbon tax is generally seen as a simpler way to regulate carbon emissions. But weathering the price hikes that could result from the tax is a hang-up in more conservative circles. Some groups are trying to mitigate those concerns through a tax-and-dividend approach, in which the tax would be collected and then redistributed to taxpayers to help mitigate any increased energy costs.

Ream says she isn’t lobbying against the tax. It’s just not part of her group’s “playbook,” she said. If groups were coming to together to negotiate on a piece of carbon tax legislation then she might have a different position. But for now, she said, “it’s just not going anywhere.”  Even the Democratic leadership in the House is skeptical about a carbon tax being the direction they want to take ahead of the election, she added.  For the vast majority of Republicans a carbon tax is just too “radioactive” for her group to be pushing, she explained.

Currently, Reams is more focused on legislation that the GOP can endorse that includes supporting renewable energy, like solar, wind, and energy storage. Renewable energy helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it also helps to spur free-market competition that conservatives can also get behind, she explained.  She sees room for Republicans to endorse tax credits for wind and solar as a policy they can get behind, despite conservative critics that say otherwise.

ANWR bill: no humans or rights? Mining for security. Pebble suit dismissed.

Human rights bill on ANWR ignores humans and their rights
Matthew Rexford, The Hill, May 20, 2019

The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act, as it’s known, preaches a “moral responsibility to protect this wilderness heritage as an enduring resource to bequeath undisturbed to future generations of Americans”, but fails to acknowledge the basic needs of future generations of Arctic Iñupiat. The message this bill sends is that Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and the legislation’s co-sponsors prioritize the leisure whims of their eco-tourist constituencies above the needs of the Native people of Kaktovik and the North Slope.

Our take: Rexford hits the nail on the head later in the article—“We want to work to support our families, not lean on government subsidies for survival.”

Rare-Earth Mining: A National Security Imperative
Dean G. Popps, Real Clear Defense, May 21, 2019

Congress and the administration have done significant work to identify critical strategic vulnerabilities in our supply chain, including a foolish reliance on critical mineral imports from non-allied countries. Next, we must narrow these vulnerabilities to the extent possible by increasing U.S. production from American mines. Given that we’re nearly at full capacity on domestic mine production, the only way to do this will be through investment in new projects.

Judge dismisses Pebble-funded lawsuit against BBRSDA
Isabelle Ross, KTOO, May 20, 2019

The ruling focused on the scope of BBRSDA’s mission to promote and market seafood. The fishers suing the association define that mission narrowly and don’t view environmental protection as part of the association’s purview. BBRSDA argued that its activities fall within the broader definition of promoting seafood. The court agreed, holding that state statutes define promotion in broad terms. It also pointed out that the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development does not define what that mission entails.

Related: Corps corrects end date for Pebble project comment period

From the Daily on Energy:

BIPARTISAN SENATORS PRESSURE TREASURY TO IMPLEMENT CARBON CAPTURE TAX CREDIT: A bipartisan group of senators pushed the Treasury Department on Monday to move faster to implement an expanded tax credit for carbon capture projects signed into law more than a year ago. Sens. Whitehouse, John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., spearheaded a letter to Treasury requesting the agency commit additional staff to the development of a final rule to implement the 45Q tax credits. The senators, who were the lead sponsors of the bill expanding the tax credits, also urged Treasury to issue an interim rule to allow carbon capture projects to use the tax break immediately.

“Implementation of this legislation is critical for establishing a domestic market for carbon to reduce emissions, create and preserve jobs, and drive further commercial deployment of carbon capture projects,” the senators wrote in the letter.

Project developers have been unable to claim the credit without an implementing rule from Treasury.

“Same players, same message, same goal.” Barclay’s race against the carbon clock

Activists Use Worn Out Tactics to Call for Statewide Oil and Gas Moratorium in Colorado
William Allison, Energy in Depth, May 15, 2019

A small, fringe group of “Keep It In the Ground” activists spoke out at a government meeting today using worn out tactics to push their campaign to end all oil and natural gas development in Colorado. The stakeholder meeting, the first public meeting hosted by the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) since the passage of SB 181, begins the rulemaking process that will govern new production in the state. But despite Gov. Jared Polis declaring the oil and gas wars are “over,” and the industry looking for clarity and stability, activist groups that never took part in the legislative process are now intent on blocking new development by slowing down the rulemaking process.

A Race Against the Carbon Clock
Barclay’s, May 2019

Barclay’s has identified three scenarios that correspond to differing degrees of carbon reduction over the next few decades. Each scenario reflects varying degrees of government action and technological innovation aimed at reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Trump’s EPA shifts more environmental enforcement to states
Ellen Knickmeyer, AP, May 20, 2019

Susan Holmes’ home, corner store and roadside beef jerky stand are right off Oklahoma Highway 31, putting them in the path of trucks hauling ash and waste from a power plant that burns the high-sulfur coal mined near this small town. For years, when Bokoshe residents were outside, the powdery ash blowing from the trucks and the ash dump on the edge of town would “kind of engulf you,” Holmes said. “They drove by, and you just couldn’t breathe.” Over three decades, the ash dump grew into a hill five stories high. Townspeople regard the Environmental Protection Agency as the only source of serious environmental enforcement. Whenever people took their worries about ash-contaminated air and water to state lawmakers and regulators, “none of them cared,” Holmes said.

From today’s Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

POLL SHOWS REPUBLICAN SUPPORT FOR CARBON TAX PLAN: A poll released Monday by the firm Luntz Global — led by Republican consultant Frank Luntz — shows 2-1 support among GOP voters for the Climate Leadership Council’s carbon tax and dividend plan.

Fifty-three percent of Republican voters support the carbon dividends approach, compared with 80% of Democrats. The GOP support is more pronounced in younger people, with 75% of Republicans under 40 years old backing the proposal. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans polled said they are concerned the party’s stance on climate change hurts the GOP with younger voters.

The poll also shows that 43% of Republican voters are more concerned about climate change than they were a year ago, compared with 74% of Democrats.

Luntz Global conducted the online poll of 1,000 voters this month.

Inslee “accepts higher emissions…” Mine US Minerals – don’t undermine them

Gov. Inslee is wrong to flip-flop on liquefied natural-gas facility in Tacoma
Seattle Times Editorial, May 16, 2019

Gov.  Jay Inslee is doing an outstanding job staying on message in his presidential campaign, making climate change his signature issue and a focus of the primaries.  But Inslee went too far last week when he pulled support for a project in Tacoma that will cut emissions and create jobs.  Early in his governorship, Inslee championed the Tacoma liquefied natural-gas (LNG) facility. That pragmatic, nuanced approach provided certainty for local companies to commit more than $500 million to a project that will substantially reduce  emissions from ships sailing between Puget Sound and Alaska.  That stance no longer jibes with the current mantra of his far-left environmental base, which now advocates for halting additional fossil-fuel consumption. It also put Inslee in conflict with one of the state’s wealthiest tribes, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which opposed the project.


Jay Inslee wants to be the climate change president. His record shows what a tough sell that issue could be.

Mine US minerals – don’t undermine them
Ned Mamula, The Hill, May 16, 2019

Over the past 50 years, the United States has ignored and even shunned the importance of its mineral wealth like no other country in the industrial world.  Australia, Canada, Sweden, Russia, China and most other industrialized economies value their mineral resources and use them to their defense and economic benefit, and even for geopolitical advantage. Not so the United States. Indeed, our nation “boasts” a growing list of groups that are openly hostile to extractive industries, especially mining.  Yet, the one economic sector that meets the American appetite for raw materials, gadgets, high-tech equipment, cars, jetliners and “renewable” energy technologies that we take for granted  — all of which are made from minerals and metals — is mining.

Our Take:   As the author notes, the proposed Mining Law Reform legislation recently introduced in the House could cause great harm to the industry.  A 12.5% royalty on new production from federal lands is, well, crazy talk for an industry that already pays  45% of its earnings to government.  “A disincentive on steroids” is an excellent way to describe the proposed ability to allow mining claims to be cancelled after a 20-year period.  Thankfully, such legislation is DOA in the Senate. 

Fall 2019 Lease Sale To Include SALSA Oil And Gas Sale Blocks
Jennifer Williams, KSRM, May 16, 2019

The Division of Oil and Gas will offer Special Alaska Lease Sale Area (SALSA) blocks in conjunction with the Fall 2019 oil and gas lease sale, Commissioner Corri A. Feige announced on Wednesday.  The Harrison Bay, Storms, and Gwydyr Bay lease sale blocks will be offered again in 2019 with the same or similar terms and conditions as were offered in the Fall 2018 sale. Each lease sale block has 3-D seismic data acquired through the State of Alaska Tax Credit Program, which are available through the Department of Natural Resources.  Commissioner Feige: “We received enthusiastic feedback about the 2018 SALSA program and the data compilation associated with the program. By signaling our intentions earlier this year, potential bidders will have much more time to evaluate and consider opportunities. We see SALSA as an outstanding way to market Alaska’s resources, easing the data research process, and accelerating exploration and development.”

Our Take:  Kudos to Commissioner Feige for implementing Governor Dunleavy’s “open for business” agenda!   We haven’t heard the words “accelerating exploration and development” for far too long. 

Researchers say methane estimates at gas wells were wrong
John Fialka, E & E News, May 16, 2019

Scientists made “major overestimations” of methane emissions from oil and gas production in the United States by relying on faulty measurements, according to new research sponsored by NOAA.

Hump Day Hypocrisy from Anti-Pebble Presenters;  Exploration mojo is back! 

What about the bears?
Brian Mazurek, Peninsula Clarion, May 15, 2019

While much of the discussion over the proposed Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay has focused on its impact to the area’s fishing industry, the project’s potential impact to another species was up for debate at yesterday’s Joint Kenai/Soldotna Chamber Luncheon.  During a presentation, Sam Snyder with the Wild Salmon Center and Drew Hamilton with Friends of McNeil River shifted the focus to how the mine would affect brown bears.

Our Take:  This reporter must have left before the question and answer period where Sam and Drew flopped.  Sam started out his presentation by telling folks he had a PhD in fisheries management.  When one of the attendees pointed out that his educational credentials had more to do with religion than fish, he got flustered and angry – telling the crowd that he wrote his senior thesis on fisheries and that attacking the messenger wasn’t cool. (After he had just spent 15 minutes attacking the Army Corp of Engineers and the people who work for the Pebble Project.)  Drew talked about the dramatic increase in tourists participating in bear-viewing (from 400 to 4000 in just a few years) and the need to protect his business.  When participants pointed out that lots of pilots and lodge owners were complaining about the increase in bear watching activity and the negative impacts and the safety issues he replied  “yep – and we are trying to get that under control because we don’t want the government to regulate us.”  (After he had just talked about all the government regulation he wanted for a future  “could happen”  scenario.)  Hump-day hypocrisy was alive and well with the anti-Pebble folks yesterday! 

Exploration Gets Its Mojo Back
Andreas Exarheas, Rigzone, May 14, 2019

The exploration sector has got its mojo back, according to energy research and consultancy company Wood Mackenzie (WoodMac).  WoodMac, which recently completed its 11th annual exploration survey, said the study showed continued optimism and increased favour for high or big impact wells. Capital efficiency was given less importance in this year’s survey by respondents, as were returns on investment.  About 36 percent of those surveyed said they would be investing more on exploration this year, while only 13 percent had reduced their budgets from last year. Thirty-eight percent said they planned to drill more wells in 2019 while just ten percent of respondents expect their well count to be lower than in 2018.  Lower exploration costs, lower development costs and reduced cycle times were seen as the top three factors in returning exploration to a “value creation business”, according to the survey. Less project complexity, a rising oil price and technology were some of the other reasons listed.

Resource potential expands at Alaska graphite prospect
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce, May 15, 2019

The potential of a unique Western Alaska mineral deposit keeps growing as its developers inch closer to making it a mine.

Stan Foo, chief operating officer of Graphite One Inc., told a gathering of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance on May 9 in Anchorage that infill drilling done last year at the company’s Graphite Creek prospect on the Seward Peninsula helped significantly increase the resource estimates for the deposit.

“We’re very excited about the improvements we made. We increased the resource by about 14 percent last year,” Foo said.  Located on the northern face of the Kigluaik Mountains about 40 miles north of Nome, the Graphite Creek deposit holds measured and indicated resources estimated at nearly 11 million metric tons of ore at an average grade of about 8 percent graphite.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

MANCHIN, MURKOWSKI URGE FOR CONGRESS TO ‘PUT MONEY WHERE MOUTHS ARE’ ON CARBON CAPTURE:  Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., called on Congress Thursday to support their legislation authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars to expand research and development of carbon capture technologies.

Carbon capture has emerged as a response to climate change that has bipartisan support.

“But we have got to put our money where our mouths are and enact strong, supportive legislation,” said Manchin, at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. “There should be no downside to supporting and accelerating [carbon capture] deployment on a large scale no matter where you are coming from on the political spectrum.”

Manchin, the committee’s top Democrat, and Murkowski, the chairwoman, focused the hearing on their bill introduced last month, the Enhancing Fossil Fuel Energy Carbon Technology Act of 2019.

What the bill would do: The legislation would create four new Energy Department carbon capture research and development programs.

One program would focus on lowering costs and improving efficiency and effectiveness of carbon capture and storage on coal and natural gas plants. Another would boost efforts to commercialize the captured carbon for other uses. A third program would center on improving carbon capture for alternative uses, such as for industrial plants.

And the bill also creates a carbon removal program to aid “direct air capture” technologies being developed to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere.

“We need to think of all the ways we can skin this cat,” Manchin said. “Removing CO2 from the ambient air is one of those things. This is the moonshot and we need to get behind it right now.”

Headlamp – China’s big three wouldn’t sign long-term LNG contracts with US before the tariffs.

Will Chinese Tariffs Hurt U.S. LNG?
Nikos Tsafos, Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 15, 2019

On May 13, China announced that it would increase tariffs on many U.S. products, including liquefied natural gas (LNG). This the second time that China has targeted U.S. LNG: it set a 10 percent tariff in September 2018, which reduced flows to almost zero. The new tariff, at 25 percent starting June 1, will likely end the LNG trade between the two countries (for now). This escalation is widely interpreted as a major blow to U.S. LNG exports. It is certainly a blow, but even that statement should be followed by several asterisks.  Since 2010, when the United States emerged as a prospective LNG supplier, U.S. exporters have tried to secure long-term sales contracts with Chinese customers—but to little avail. There were various attempts over the years, although mostly with second-tier players, rather than the big three Chinese national oil companies (CNPC, Sinopec, and CNOOC). But the deals were never consummated. The sense was that the Chinese companies, which were perfectly willing to sign long-contracts with everyone else, simply did not trust the United States. No amount of lobbying and reassurance from the U.S. side changed that fact.


                UPDATE 1-U.S. LNG companies Cheniere and Tellurian see U.S.-China trade spat as short term


From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

TRUMP CALLS THE GREEN NEW DEAL A ‘HOAX’: Trump attacked the Green New Deal Tuesday, claiming the progressive plan to fight climate change “might be a bigger hoax” than the Russian investigation.

“The Green New Deal is a hoax like the hoax I just went through,” Trump said during his speech in Louisiana. “I’m not sure, it might even be a bigger one. And mine was pretty big.”

Trump told the audience of energy industry workers that if the Green New Deal were implemented, “everybody in this room gets fired” because backers of the plan “don’t like clean, beautiful natural gas.”


Headlamp – Investment in fossil fuels is up!! Jimmy Fallon’s case against renewables.

Global energy investments rebound, thanks to fossil fuels
Amy Harder, Axios, May 13, 2019

Global energy investments stabilized last year after three years of decline, due to greater spending on oil, natural gas and coal, according to a new International Energy Agency report just published.  What they’re saying: Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, says that “the world is not investing enough in traditional elements of supply to maintain today’s consumption patterns, nor is it investing enough in cleaner energy technologies to change course. Whichever way you look, we are storing up risks for the future.”

Report highlights:

  • Coal comeback: Coal supply investment increased for the first time since 2012, up 2% between 2017 and 2018.
  • Distribution disparities: Just 14% of energy investment dollars in 2018 went to regions where 42% of the world’s population live.
  • Chinese dominance: China spends nearly 0.08% of its GDP on energy research and development, and it’s widening the gap compared to the rest of the world (whose spending is less than 0.05% per GDP).
  • Battery boost: Investment in battery storage rose by 45% between 2017 and 2018 to a record $4 billion.
  • Oil imbalance: Oil spending levels would need to drop to meet the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement goals, but they also “fall well short of what would be needed in a world of continued strong oil demand.”

Our Take:   We present Jimmy Fallon’s irrefutable case against “renewables”: 

 “New Scientist Magazine reported on Wednesday that in the future, cars can be powered by hazelnuts. That’s encouraging considering an eight-ounce jar of hazelnuts costs about nine dollars. Yeah, I got an idea for a car that runs on bald eagle heads and Faberge eggs.”


From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:

MURKOWSKI SEEKS TO RESOLVE ‘ACHILLES HEEL’ OF MINERAL DEPENDENCE: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed optimism Tuesday that Congress will finally address the U.S.’ “Achilles heel” of relying on other countries for critical minerals.

“We are going to get it done,” Murkowski said at a hearing hosted by her committee. “This is our Achilles heel for competitive, manufacturing, and geopolitics.”

The hearing focused on a bill introduced this month by Murkowski and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat, that would streamline the federal permitting process for developing mines for lithium, graphite, and other minerals critical to developing batteries that power electric vehicles. The bill would also require a nationwide accounting of all minerals available in the U.S. to make EVs.

Murkowski noted the U.S. last year imported at least 50% of 48 different types of minerals, and 100% of 18 of them, according to data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey.

China, the leading market for EVs and a manufacturing powerhouse, is the primary supplier of 26 of the 48 minerals where the U.S. has an importing dependence. Manchin said he hopes to break China’s “stronghold” on the minerals market, but “I don’t know if we ‘ll ever be price competitive with China,” given their head start.

Our Take:  We appreciate these words from Senator Steve Daines  of MT – “wind farms and solar panels don’t grow naturally in the wild.   You have to mine and refine raw materials to make them.  If the U.S. wants to be a leader in renewable energy, we also have to be a leader in responsible mining.” 

Alaska LNG funding Arctic icebreakers? China chooses state over private sector.

Alaska LNG exports proposed to fund Arctic icebreakers and ports
John Gallagher, FreightWaves, May 11, 2019

Revenues generated from Alaskan energy exports could be the key to closing a wide infrastructure gap that some assert has left the U.S. a decade behind its competition. Testifying on Capitol Hill on May 8, Mead Treadwell, an Arctic policy expert from the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., predicted liquefied natural gas (LNG) the “next big wave” of economic activity in the region that could help fund ice-breaking ships and deep-water ports. “[The Russians] are bringing 16.5 million tons of LNG from the Yamal [LNG project] through the Bering Strait [en route to Asia] 2,600 miles through the ice, while we’ve got big fields in Prudhoe Bay [Alaska] that are lying fallow” that would require just 600 miles through the ice zone, Treadwell asserted to lawmakers at a maritime subcommittee hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Xi Jinping’s China: why entrepreneurs feel like second-class citizens
Tom Hancock, Financial Times, May 13, 2019

Born into extreme poverty in rural China, Liu Chonghua amassed enough wealth selling cakes to the country’s emerging middle class to build himself six European-style castles. Five are tourist attractions, but the grandest of all was designed as a home: a grey stone structure resembling Britain’s Windsor Castle, built on land the 65-year-old entrepreneur acquired from the government of the southwestern city of Chongqing in the 1990s. Mr. Liu’s tale is one of many rags-to-riches stories in China’s transition to a more market-oriented economy. When Hurun published its first ranking of China’s wealthiest people in 1999, it found just 50 with assets above $6m. The list now features nearly 2,000 individuals worth more than $300m — the tip of China’s sprawling private sector. Non-existent four decades ago, private enterprise today accounts for 60 per cent of China’s economic output and 80 percent of urban employment in 2017, according to official statistics.

Our Take: “The state advances as the private sector retreats.” Chilling.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

CHINA PLANS TO RAISE TARIFFS ON US GOODS, INCLUDING LNG: China retaliated against the Trump administration’s escalated trade war on Monday, with the country’s finance ministry announcing plans to raise tariffs on a range of U.S. goods to 20% or 25% from 10%. The list of targeted goods includes U.S. liquified natural gas, which will be hit by a 25% tariff. The strengthened tariffs do not include American crude oil.

China is delaying the implementation of the heightened tariffs until June 1, to provide time for negotiators. But industry officials have warned that Trump’s trade war with China is threatening to discourage the world’s fastest growing LNG market from signing long-term contracts with American developers.

Whereas oil is fungible, buyers of LNG demand long-term contracts, in the 20-year range. Other countries, including Russia, Qatar, Canada, and Mozambique can offer LNG at competitive rates, despite the U.S. cheap prices. China’s demand for LNG is soaring, and it is relying more on the U.S., which is expected to soon be a top three global exporter of LNG.