Headlamp – All China, all the time

Alaska’s “carefully cultivated” relationship with China. The newly signed agreement for Alaska to work with major Chinese institutions to advance a massive North Slope natural gas project was the product of a carefully cultivated relationship that will continue, Gov. Bill Walker said. The joint development agreement signed earlier this month in Beijing brings Sinopec, the Bank of China and the China Investment Corporation onto the team to develop a project sending natural gas from Arctic Alaska to Asian markets. That document, signed in the presence of President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping , followed months of meetings and discussion, Walker said in a speech last week to the Resource Development Council for Alaska.

More on China. During President Trump’s visit to China, the U.S. signed US$250 billion worth of potential trade and investment deals that would boost American exports to China and Chinese investment in the United States. The two single largest potential deals were signed in the energy sector at the official U.S.-China Business Exchange, which took place on November 8th and 9th during President Trump’s visit. The agreements are just memorandums of understanding (MoU), not final contracts, but they set the stage for a stronger energy relationship between the two powerhouses of the global energy production and consumption. There is some concern that Chinese investment in U.S. energy could undermine free market principles. On the Chinese side, it’s unclear if Beijing is convinced that the U.S. will not use energy to retaliate against China by cutting supplies if disputes or disagreements escalate, Forbes contributor Sara Hsu writes.

Contamination at Titan plant. Interior Gas Utility staff are aware of diesel fuel contamination at the site of the Titan LNG gas liquefaction plant, said the utility’s general manager Jomo Stewart. “It is an identified risk for which there is a plan in place to address this,” Stewart said. The IGU is poised to purchase Titan LNG’s parent company Pentex and its assets for $60 million from the state’s economic development authority. The purchase is part of a plan to bring more clean burning natural gas to areas of the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Located in Point McKenzie off Knik Goose Bay Road, the Titan LNG gas liquefaction plant was owned by Harrington Partners, before the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority purchased it in 2015.

Up, up, up! U.S. oil prices hit their highest levels in more than two years on Friday after the continued shutdown of a pipeline running from Canada to the United States was expected to reduce supply into a major storage facility. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures (WTI) CLc1 settled up 93 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $58.95 a barrel. Trading volumes were thin on Friday due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 rose 31 cents, or 0.49 percent, to settle at $63.86 a barrel.

ASRC and the Arctic. The well-worn narrative of oil industry exploitation in Alaska goes roughly like this: Multinational oil company with insatiable appetite for profit and little concern for the environment targets the Arctic, estimated to contain 30% of the planet’s undiscovered natural gas and 13% of its undiscovered oil. On cue Indigenous peoples join forces with environmental activists to oppose the proposed exploitation of one of the last great unspoilt natural regions on Earth. In recent history they’ve been winning. In December 2016, that coalition scored a notable victory when the US and Canada banned new leases for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. However, a month earlier few people appeared to notice when 21 of Shell’s former federal leases in a part of the Beaufort Sea Lease Area called Camden Bay were snapped up by ASRC Exploration, a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), the wealthiest Native corporation in Alaska.

From the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:

EPA REJECTS CHANGES TO BIOFUEL MANDATE SOUGHT BY REFINERS, CARL ICAHN: The Trump administration is rejecting a proposal backed by oil refiners and billionaire Carl Icahn to change biofuel policy,

Point taken: The Environmental Protection Agency denied petitions by Valero Energy and other refiners to change the rules regarding the “point of obligation” so that refiners wouldn’t be responsible for blending corn-based ethanol into gasoline.
Pressure point: Icahn, a former special adviser to Trump, also pressed the administration to change the requirement. One of his investment firms, Icahn Enterprises, owns a large stake in an oil refinery business, CVR Energy. Icahn resigned as special adviser to the president in August after the New Yorker published an article about the conflicts created by his advisory role.
Commitment to RFS: The decision to keep the rules as they are comes after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt pledged to Midwestern senators that he would not change the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires refiners and importers to blend increasing amounts of biofuels into gasoline and diesel. Pruitt had previously proposed weakening the fuel standard at the behest of oil refiners, but he changed course after protests from Midwestern states.
Final decision coming: The EPA must release its RFS requirements by Thursday.

First Reads:

Alaska-China LNG deal was the result of careful — and ongoing — work, says governor
Arctic Now, Yareth Rosen, November 22, 2017

U.S. Energy To See Huge Investments From China
OilPro.com, Tsvetana Paraskova, November 26, 2017

IGU recognizes old fuel spill at Titan site
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Kevin Baird, November 26, 2017

U.S. crude tops two-year high as Keystone outage hits supply
Reuters, Catherine Ngai, November 23, 2017

Drilling the Arctic: will native Alaskans succeed where others have failed?
Offshore Technology, Julian Turner, November 22, 2017