Roads to Resources gets a re-fund. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said he plans to re-fund the Ambler Road Project to the same point it was funded previously. The project lost its state funding in 2015 when Walker defunded several bond funded construction projects due to budgetary issues. The Ambler Road Project is a proposed 200-mile road that would connect the Ambler Mining District in Northwest Alaska with the Dalton Highway and Fairbanks. In a recent interview with the News-Miner, Walker confirmed that, if his FY19 budget proposal is passed, the project will be funded at the same level. “Our commitment to the Ambler Road was to get it up through the EIS process,” Walker said. “We are going to go ahead and advance that.” The Bureau of Land Management is working on an environmental impact statement for the project, identifying and analyzing concerns associated with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s proposal. The EIS must be complete before the project can move to the permitting phase. The public comment period just ended after months of gathering input.
Groundhog day Part 2: Environmentalists sue to stop development. Two lawsuits filed Friday claim the federal government conducted petroleum lease sales without proper environmental review in a part of northern Alaska known for its wildlife. The Bureau of Land Management on Dec. 14 conducted the largest-ever lease offering within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, putting out for bid 900 tracts covering 16,100 square miles (41,700 sq. kilometers), roughly the size of New Hampshire and Massachusetts combined. In the first lawsuit, five environmental groups said the BLM relied on an environmental review preceding a 2013 NPR-A management plan for the lease sale. Federal law for lease sales, the lawsuit said, required an updated environmental review of the specific land to be offered in a sale, and how wildlife and habitat would be affected. “The Trump Administration is in such a rush to sell off our public lands to the oil and gas industry that it isn’t even taking the time to comply with the law,” Suzanne Bostrom, an attorney for Trustees for Alaska, an environmental law firm representing the groups, said in a statement. In the second lawsuit, filed by environmental law firm Earthjustice, four other environmental groups claimed 2016 and 2017 lease sales in the reserve were illegal because the Interior Department failed to take a hard look at their effects on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Bull or Bear? ConocoPhillips is pretty bullish about oil prospects on the North Slope. The company’s Alaska president, Joe Marushack, told a major business conference in Anchorage last week that he sees a possibility for up to 400,000 barrels a day of new oil coming into the Trans Alaska Pipeline System over the next few years. This would come from new oil projects that companies are working on including three by ConocoPhillips, Marushack said at an Anchorage Economic Development Corp.’s economic forecast luncheon held Feb. 1 at the Dena’ina convention center in Anchorage. Getting new oil into the oil pipeline is important because it is now carrying about 500,000 barrels per day, about one-fourth of its 2 million barrel-per-day design capacity, and if the oil “throughput” in TAPS drops further there would be operating problems, according to Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., the pipeline operator.
Small spill at Valdez Terminal. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has reported a spill at the Valdez Marine Terminal. KTVA-TV reports that the department says the spill appears to be less than 200 gallons (757 liters) of crude oil from the Alaska North Slope. The spill was discovered Saturday morning by a worker who was doing routine rounds. The department says oil reached the water but “no sheen on water has been observed.” The cause of the spill is under investigation. But the department says the oil might have leaked from loading arms into containment. The department says there’s no impact to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The department will continue to monitor and clean the area. Skimming vessels have been deployed to the spill site.
China surpassed the United States in annual gross crude oil imports in 2017, importing 8.4 million barrels per day (b/d) compared with 7.9 million b/d for the United States. China had become the world’s largest net importer (imports minus exports) of total petroleum and other liquid fuels in 2013. New refinery capacity and strategic inventory stockpiling combined with declining domestic oil production were the major factors contributing to the recent increase in China’s crude oil imports.
One fish, two fish…Local fishermen and mining companies are picking sides this week over stringent new rules for construction on Alaska salmon habitat. One group did it through letters to a legislator. The other, with paper of a different sort: a $200,000 contribution. The Stand for Salmon initiative and a similar bill known as House Bill 199 establish a new procedure for construction permits on fish habitat issued by Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It’s more complicated than existing permitting, mining companies say, and would be prohibitively expensive for construction projects across the state. But fishermen say they simply want construction done responsibly. Without updates to a decades-old permitting law, commercial salmon fishing is put at risk by large oil, gas and mining projects. Flanked by the group of seven other Juneau fishermen, gillnetter Sommers Cole gave HB 199 a stamp of approval Thursday when he delivered a letter to bill author Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, on behalf of 200 fishermen. About 30 of the signers are Juneau fishermen, Cole told the Empire before his meeting with Stutes at the Capitol.
From today’s Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
ANNUAL ENERGY OUTLOOK TO STOKE A FIGHT: The Energy Information Administration is set to release its annual outlook for 2018 Tuesday morning, which is expected to play up the effects of the oil and natural gas revolution, which in turn helps Trump’s energy dominance agenda. But that sort of reporting, even though it is factual, does not sit well with climate change groups who want to see renewable energy advances played up by the federal government over fossil fuels. Ahead of the report’s release, the Post Carbon Institute released a report Monday that looks to poke a hole in the EIA’s “rosy” projections. The report details how the government’s projections are not feasible out to 2050. “There is no doubt that the U.S. can produce substantial amounts of shale gas and tight oil over the short- and medium-term,” said David Hughes, the report’s lead author. “Unrealistic long-term forecasts, however, are a disservice to planning a viable long-term energy strategy. The very high to extremely optimistic EIA projections impart an unjustified level of comfort for long-term energy sustainability.” The EIA outlook will provide projections of U.S. energy supply, demand, and prices. The projections also will include alternative assumptions that take into account changing economic growth rates, domestic energy resources, and other technologies, along with world oil prices.
Walker re-funds Ambler Road Project to EIS process
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Erin Granger, February 5, 2018
Groups sue to overturn Alaska petroleum reserve lease sale
AP News, Dan Joling, February 2, 2018
ConocoPhillips fired up about Alaska prospects in 2018
Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Tim Bradner, February 3, 2018
Alaska officials report oil spill at Valdez Marine Terminal
AP News, February 5, 2018
China surpassed the United States as the world’s largest crude oil importer in 2017
U.S. Energy Information Administration, February 5, 2018
Local fishermen, mining companies divided over fish habitat
Peninsula Clarion, Kevin Gullufsen, February 4, 2018