One step closer…The U.S. Senate passed a budget resolution Thursday that could provide Alaska’s congressional delegation its best shot in four decades to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. The Senate voted 51-49 to pass the budget resolution, along party lines. Republicans defeated a Democratic amendment to strip the ANWR-allowing provision from the budget resolution, by a vote of 52-48. It’s not a slam-dunk yet. But Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been granted the opportunity to attach an ANWR drilling provision to a tax reform bill that is considered “must-pass” legislation if Republicans want to retain their control of Congress in 2018. That bill — known as “budget reconciliation” — will only require a simple 51-senator majority vote. House and Senate leaders have said they hope to pass tax legislation before the end of this year, though that may be an overly optimistic timeline.
Could outside investment be the key? Alaska is pursuing foreign investors for its oil and gas industry, hoping to advance recent discoveries while struggling to compete with lower-cost shale projects and reverse a decades-long output decline. Sovereign wealth funds, banks and state-owned energy companies have met with Alaskan officials, John Hendrix, chief energy adviser to Alaska Governor Bill Walker, said in an interview. China Investment Corp (CIC) and state-owned Chinese energy company Sinopec held talks with state officials last month, he said.
Russia is full speed ahead! Neither sanctions nor persistently low oil prices are hindering Russia’s ambitions or plans to develop oil resources in its sections of the Arctic. In April, state-controlled oil giant Rosneft started drilling the northernmost well on the Russian Arctic shelf in the Khatangsky license area in the Laptev Sea. In June, Rosneft struck first oil in the Eastern Arctic in this license. Earlier this month, the oil firm said that recoverable reserves at the field exceed 80 million tons of oil, which is equal to around 586.4 million barrels. Geological data point to reserves at the field at 298 million tons of oil, or some 2.184 billion barrels, and the oil is high quality—light and low-sulfur, according to Rosneft.
EPA’s new biofuels deal. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt assured Republicans Thursday night that he would keep the Renewable Fuel Standard intact, and would even work with them to allow more ethanol to be blended into the gasoline supply year-round. The assurances come amid a major pressure campaign by both Republicans and Democrats on President Trump and Pruitt to scrap an EPA proposal to significantly curtail the program’s biofuel targets while allowing ethanol exports to qualify as part of the annual production goals.
From the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:
PRUITT ASSURES QUICK PERMITTING APPROVALS: Pruitt, speaking Thursday at the Texas Oil and Gas Association’s Lone Star Energy Forum, said the EPA will cut response times for permitting requests to six months or less. “Regulatory uncertainty is the biggest reason why the U.S. economy isn’t growing faster,” Pruitt said, according to Reuters. “It can be done. It’s just a matter of having the process in place to achieve results.”
Alaska Airlines reminds us we #weflyalaska. Alaska Airlines has renewed its partnership with the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) to provide a brighter future for middle school students from rural communities across the state of Alaska. The second, three-year $1 million grant brings Alaska Airlines’ total investment in ANSEP to $2 million. Over the next three years, funds will help transport nearly 2,000 Alaska students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades to Anchorage to attend ANSEP’s award-winning Middle School Academy education program at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
U.S. Senate passes bill that offers a chance to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, October 19, 2017
Cash-poor Alaska eyes foreign capital to jump-start energy projects
Reuters, Rod Nickel, October 20, 2017
Russia Goes All In On Arctic Oil Development
OilPrice.com, Tsvetana Paraskova, October 19, 2017
Scott Pruitt assures Republicans he won’t harm ethanol mandate
The Washington Examiner, John Siciliano, October 20, 2017
Alaska Airlines pledges additional $1 million to support STEM education in rural Alaska
PR Newswire, October 20, 2017