Headlamp – Big Green Guns Ablazing

Low LNG Prices in China – supply meet demand. Chinese liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices have slipped from record highs as the industrial users were cut off the supply and turned to cheaper LPG and coal. Reuters cites Li Ruipeng, manager at Tangshan Huapu Gas Co a company delivering liquefied natural gas via trucks, as saying that some industrial users were unable to afford the LNG as it reached 9,750 Yuan ($1,500) in Inner Mongolia region. Since December 24, the prices have dropped over 40 percent according to the data from the industry publication yeslng.com, Reuters reports. The prices dropped as China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) ordered state-owned companies to cut gas supplies to industrial users by 15 million cubic meters per day. In addition, the prices of domestically produced fuel also had a major impact on the price drop.  Not only were the industrial users turning away from natural gas but even residential users opted for cheaper liquefied petroleum gas or coal.

Judge sides with Baker Hughes. An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled against a group of men seeking a punitive-damage award from Baker Hughes for neurological illnesses they say arose after they were exposed to toxic gases during a construction project. Judge Eric Aarseth on Tuesday issued a single-page “final judgment” favoring “prevailing party” Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest oil-field services companies, with headquarters in Houston, Texas. The decision came on the heels of a Dec. 22 order in which Aarseth granted a motion for summary judgment that had been filed by Baker Hughes. In that decision, Aarseth said there were “no further matters to litigate.” He vacated a trial that had been set for early January. The “alleged toxic gas exposure,” Aarseth wrote in the December order, took place near a chemical transfer facility outside Kenai, where drilling chemicals are packaged for shipment to oil fields.

Kowalke files for Dunleavy Senate seat. For the past few months, questions have swirled over who could fill the Alaska Senate seat held by Wasilla Republican Mike Dunleavy, who’s running for governor.  Would it be David Eastman, the first-term Republican House member who represents the west side of Dunleavy’s district, which includes Willow, Talkeetna and parts of Wasilla? Or George Rauscher, the first-term Republican House member who represents the east side of Dunleavy’s district — a huge swath stretching 200 miles from Delta Junction in the Interior to Valdez on Prince William Sound? But with those two still undecided about whether to run, a new candidate has jumped into the race: Randall Kowalke, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly member from Willow.

Tax cuts have fingerprints on employment numbers. U.S. businesses wrapped up 2017 with another month of robust hiring while congressional Republicans and the White House signed off on a sweeping tax package. Companies added 250,000 jobs in December, up from 185,000 in November, the most jobs in a month since March, according to the payroll processor ADP’s latest report released on Thursday. The job gains were spread across all sectors and industries with retail and professional services seeing a surge bolstered by consumer spending over the holidays. “My sense is that tax cuts probably have their fingerprints on the employment numbers,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, who helps oversee the ADP data.

Alaska will continue to lose jobs.  A recently released employment forecast for 2018 indicates that Alaska is expected to lose jobs for the third year in a row. However, the state labor department also expects the losses to taper off to a more moderate level, compared to earlier in the recession. “We’re forecasting job losses statewide – in Anchorage and most places [for 2018],” said Neal Fried, economist with the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development. “The one exception is Fairbanks.” Across the state, ADOLWD forecasts employment to decline by 0.5 percent – or 1,800 jobs – in 2018. Overall, this is a brighter employment outlook, compared to declines of 1.1 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2016. Last year, Alaska lost approximately 3,600 jobs. And in 2016, an estimate of 6,300 jobs were lost. Additionally, economists forecast Anchorage employment to decline by 0.7 percent, and the Southeast to decline by 0.6 percent. Meanwhile, Fairbanks – an outlier – is expected to increase by 0.8 percent. The report attributes this comeback due to a “big jump in military construction.”  During the state’s recession, the report claims that a majority of these losses took an especially heavy toll on a few specific industries, including:

  • Construction
  • Oil and Gas
  • Professional and Business Services
  • State Government

From Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:

BIG GREEN GUNS ABLAZING.  ZINKE TO ANNOUNCE BIG OFFSHORE DRILLING PLAN THURSDAY: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday afternoon is expected to release what could be the largest five-year offshore drilling program ever proposed.
Drill, baby, drill: The plan is expected to allow offshore drilling for crude oil and natural gas on the Atlantic Coast and in the Arctic, reversing the Obama’s administration’s block. It also is expected to address drilling opportunities on the Pacific Coast as well as more possibilities in the Gulf of Mexico.
The plan would span the years 2019 to 2024, replacing the Obama administration plan that ends in 2022.  The big guns of the environmental community began attacking the plan ahead of Zinke’s announcement.

First Reads:

China’s LNG prices slide as industrial users cut use
LNG World News, Staff, January 4, 2018

Judge backs Texas company over workers’ claims of toxic gas exposure in Alaska
Anchorage Daily News, Alex DeMarban, January 3, 2018

As state House members eye Dunleavy’s Senate seat, Mat-Su assemblyman jumps into race
Anchorage Daily News, Nathanial Herz, January 3, 2018

US businesses added 250,000 jobs in December
The Hill, Vicki Needham, January 4, 2018

Alaska will see modest job losses in 2018, new report says
KTUU, Sidney Sullivan January 3, 2018