Headlamp – Congratulations to TOTE; Reducing royalty rate to encourage development.

Congratulations to TOTE! TOTE Maritime Alaska’s North Star arrived in Anchorage, following her first voyage after being outfitted with two LNG tanks, completing the first of four conversion periods of the Orca class vessels. The two LNG tanks have been positioned immediately behind the ship’s bridge, TOTE said in a statement. In addition to the LNG tanks and accompanying infrastructure, the ship received critical engine updates necessary to utilize LNG as a fuel and underwent a standard regulatory dry-dock. This conversion will drastically reduce air emissions from TOTE Maritime’s Alaska ships, virtually eliminating sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter while drastically reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide, the company said. Over the next four years, three more conversion periods will be required to finalize the transition of TOTE Maritime Alaska’s vessels to LNG. Each of these conversion periods will take place in the winter to minimize the impact to customers and consumers alike. The conversion of both ships is scheduled to be complete in Q1 of 2021.

Reducing royalty rate to encourage energy development. An Interior Department advisory panel is considering whether the federal government should sharply cut the royalty rate that oil and gas firms pay for deepwater drilling while expediting energy development on federal land in Alaska and elsewhere. The recommendations by members of the Royalty Policy Committee, who hail from the energy industry or from states with significant drilling or mining activity, will be taken up Wednesday when the panel formally meets in Houston. The group had lapsed during President Barack Obama’s second term, but Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke revived it in October as a way to promote energy exploration in the United States. Earlier iterations of the committee, which was established during the Clinton administration, focused largely on technical questions, such as how to maximize the federal government’s royalty collection process. By contrast, the current panel’s subcommittees and working groups have drafted more sweeping policy proposals, posted online, that aim to make leasing federal resources more attractive.

April Showers in February. The Alaska Senate’s newest member has been sworn in. Republican Mike Shower of Wasilla was sworn in Monday by Senate President Pete Kelly. Shower, who served in the U.S. Air Force, replaces Republican Mike Dunleavy, who resigned to run for governor. The process for replacing Dunleavy was messy, marked by clashes between Gov. Bill Walker and Republicans. Senate Republicans rejected Walker’s first choice, who was not one of the three candidates sent to Walker for consideration by Senate District E Republicans. Walker’s second nominee, Thomas Braund, was on the list, but withdrew, citing personal reasons, amid a firestorm over social media posts. Walker’s administration said it did not endorse Braund or the other two GOP finalists and asked district Republicans for more names.

Oil tankers reduce costs and wait times for Asia. Big oil tankers sailing from the U.S. are set to bring along some benefits for refiners in Asia while allowing them to sidestep traders serving the world’s top crude-buying region. The new option to load oil into very large crude carriers at the U.S. Gulf Coast terminal operated by the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, or LOOP, will reduce costs and waiting time for Asian buyers of American supplies, according to shipbroking firm Braemar ACM. It also reduces the need to rely on traders to manage complicated tanker logistics that sometimes involve multiple smaller vessels transferring crude into a bigger boat. The first fully laden supertanker sailed from America earlier this month, leaving for China from LOOP’s deep-water facility – the only one in the U.S. capable of filling some of the industry’s biggest tankers. In the wake of an end to a four decade-ban on exports and as OPEC curbed output to clear a glut, a stream of shipments from the Gulf Coast headed east as major buyers such as India and South Korea looked farther for supplies.

First Reads:

Shower sworn in as Alaska state senator
KTUU, Becky Bohrer, February 26, 2018

Interior Dept. panel weighs lower royalty payments for offshore oil and gas drilling
The Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin, February 26, 2018

Giant Oil Ships From the U.S. to Cut Time, Money and Traders
Bloomberg Markets, Serene Cheong, February 25, 2018

TOTE’s North Star completes first trip after LNG conversion
LNG World News, February 27, 2018