Headlamp – Alyeska makes Prince William Sound safer than ever before. Is gas global yet?

New tug arrives in Prince William Sound – safer than ever before. On a picture-perfect April day in Port Valdez, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, the operator of the trans-Alaska pipeline, took a small band of reporters and camera crews on a tugboat. During a spin around the Port Monday — during which reporters were encouraged to wander around, chat with the captain and take photos — Alyeska staff and the boat’s crew eagerly showed off the Commander, a sparkling new, blue tug built by the Louisiana-based company Edison Chouest Offshore. The tugboats, barges and crews now arriving in Port Valdez are the most visible sign of a huge transition taking place in Prince William Sound. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is bringing on Edison Chouest as a new contractor responsible for oil spill prevention and response. The switch has drawn scrutiny and criticism, so Alyeska is trying hard to reassure Alaskans that Prince William Sound — the site of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill — will be safer than ever before. Nine new tugboats like the Commander will help guide oil tankers. Four new custom-designed response barges are outfitted and crewed to respond to an oil spill

Show us your shocked face – Josephson wants more oil taxes. Rep. Andy Josephson, one half of the chairmanship of House Resources Committee, let it slip Wednesday that the 2018 legislative session will go beyond its 90-day limit and as far as 120 days. Since he has that extra time, his committee will roll out new oil taxes that Democrats have been working on. Rep. Andy Josephson said, “We’ll be hearing other legislation, so that’s sort of the bad news, the good news is uh and I can’t make a promise about this but I think many of us are wondering between day 90 and day 120 uh what this committee will have before it and uh at this point and I may to have to change that in conjunction with my co-chair, it may be that there won’t be lots of burden, um although there may be a bill coming toward uh us that’s imminent and quite absorbing.”

Is Gas Global Yet? Is gas a global commodity, like oil? The question comes up often, and the answer is usually “not yet.” But the changes in today’s market seem profound and transformational. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade is expanding rapidly, connecting hitherto disparate markets. There is a growing market for buying and selling LNG on a short-term basis, resulting in more flexibility and liquidity. The barriers to entry have fallen, leading more countries to import LNG. And gas prices are set increasingly on their own terms, weakening a historical link to oil that stretches back decades. By most measures, gas is more global than ever before and is becoming more so daily. But it is too soon to call it a global commodity. The market is being transformed, but the transition toward a global market is slow, uneven, and irregular. And until more profound changes take place in Asia, a global market will remain beyond our reach. What Is a Global Market? In a global market, shocks reverberate globally. Rising gas production in the United States should lower prices in the United States as well as in Japan; a cold snap in the United Kingdom should lift prices in Argentina and Thailand; a drought in Brazil should make it more expensive for India and Poland to buy gas. This is how the oil market works: a strike in Venezuela; an attack in Libya or Nigeria; sanctions against Iran; a surge in oil production in America—all these events affect prices globally, even though their precise impacts might vary from one place to another. But gas is not oil. Oil is a global commodity; gas is still dominated by regional and local forces. Only 30 percent of the gas consumed in the world crosses a border; the equivalent for oil is over 70 percent. The oil market is flexible and nimble; the gas market is rigid, relying on costly infrastructure and often traded via long-term contracts. The price of oil is the same around the world, plus or minus transport costs and differentials to account for differences in quality. Gas prices, by contrast, are all over the place: they vary between and within regions, and they even vary within countries (by supplier). And while oil prices tend to move together, gas prices do not: one price might be rising, another falling. Oil prices moving in opposite directions is a rare exception; in gas, it is the norm.

First Reads:

As oil spill response vessels arrive, Alyeska argues Prince William Sound safer than ever
Alaska Public Media, Elizabeth Harball, April 5, 2018

Josephson: 120-day session will have higher oil taxes — again
Must Read Alaska, Suzanne Downing, April 5, 2018

Is Gas Global Yet?
Center for Strategic and International Studies, Nikos Tsafos, March 23, 2018