Headlamp – Things are looking UP in TAPS! Way to go Alyeska!

Alyeska kicks off the New Year with great news! For the second year in a row, there was an increase in the amount of oil flowing down the trans-Alaska pipeline. That’s according to its operator, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. Alyeska announced that the pipeline’s average throughput went up by about 10,000 barrels per day in 2017 compared to 2016, a 1.5 percent increase. “When we see two years in a row of increase, it gives us lots of optimism for the state of Alaska and also for pipeline operations going forward,” Michelle Egan, a spokesperson for Alyeska, said. North Slope oil production declined steadily starting in the late 1980s, when throughput peaked at over two million barrels per day. Before 2016, the last uptick in pipeline throughput was in 2002. Back then, it carried over one million barrels per day. In 2017, throughput averaged 527,323 barrels daily. Congratulations to all at Alyeska for the fantastic job they do to keeping TAPS flowing safely every day!

Beast of burden? Many rural communities in Alaska have been experimenting with renewable energy systems in recent years, trying to reduce the amount of costly fuel they have to ship in. In late December, researchers at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, in Fairbanks, published a series of articles looking at how those technologies are doing and what challenges remain in making them more cost effective. The analysis includes data from wind, solar electric, biomass, and several other energy technologies in use in more than 100 rural communities around the state.

Russian air patrols increasing. New and upgraded air bases will allow Russia’s Northern Fleet to extend the scope of its Arctic flights. In the course of 2017, more than 70 air patrols with aircrafts Tu-142 and Il-38 were conducted over Arctic waters, according to the press service of the Northern Fleet. This year, the patrols will be continued and the geographical scope “significantly expanded,” the fleet said. “It is expected that the Navy pilots of the Northern Fleet in 2018 will significantly expand the geography of the Arctic flights, including with the use of the polar airfield of Temp in the New Siberian Islands,” a press release reads. The pilots and air crews are being carefully trained in maneuvering in difficult Arctic weather. The involved aircraft help monitor ice conditions and provide more secure shipping for vessels in the area, the Navy says.

From Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:

TRUMP READIES NEW FIVE-YEAR DRILLING PLAN: The task force’s report comes as the Trump administration is expected to issue its updated version of the Interior Department’s five-year offshore drilling plan any day. The plan is expected to include expanded drilling off the Atlantic coast and the Arctic, as well as additional opportunities in the Gulf. The Obama administration had excluded a number of areas, such as the Atlantic Ocean, from its drilling plan, which went into effect last year. Offshore drilling in wake of tax law: The new report’s recommendations also come as the new tax law gives Gulf states a bigger share of offshore drilling revenue from federal leases. The bipartisan measure would help fund the Gulf’s expensive restoration and maintenance efforts. Show me the money: That increased revenue could be necessary to fund the National Academies’ high-tech policy recommendations, which include maintaining a fleet of drone ships to serve as deployment and data retrieval platforms, the release of 20 devices called gliders that fly through the water table using the ocean current to collect data, as well as underwater drones with their own propulsion systems.

Climate and credit? In late November, one of the world’s largest credit rating agencies announced that climbing global temperatures and rising sea levels would have an economic impact on the U.S. In short, climate change could become a credit rating problem for some U.S. cities and states. But even though Alaska is warming nearly twice as fast as the rest of the United States and dozens of towns and villages are at risk of destruction — the state’s credit might not be affected. From rising sea levels, to droughts and flooding, to wildfires and more frequent hurricanes — Moody’s makes it clear that the changing climate can have a very real impact on a budget.

Asia is OK with coal in their stocking. The one question that I get asked every other day is “What’s the future of coal in Asia?” Especially after the Paris Climate agreement a couple of years ago, where 196 countries signed a pact to reduce carbon emissions by 2022. No doubt renewable energy capacity additions have picked up pace since then, but is it so easy to displace King Coal from the energy mix? My answer is no. Millions of people in Asia do not have access to basic electricity and several countries still subsidize electricity tariffs as a populist measure. Coal is omnipresent in Asia, particularly in India, Indonesia, China and, to some extent, the Philippines and Vietnam. Countries that don’t have domestic production import it.

Who doesn’t love a good ice breaker? Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. has announced that on 21 December, a naming ceremony for an ice-breaking LNG carrier, which was jointly ordered by MOL and China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited (China COSCO Shipping), was held at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd. (DSME). As a crowd of VIPs and personnel related to the project looked on, the newbuilding vessel was named the ‘Vladimir Rusanov’ by Ms. Veronika Makeeva of PAO Novatek, the major shareholder of the Yamal LNG project. The name is derived from Russian Arctic explorer and geologist. The Vladimir Rusanov is the first of three newbuilding vessels for MOL and China COSCO Shipping’s fleets in the Yamal LNG Project. The vessel is slated to go into service at the end of March 2018, following delivery at the end of December and ice trials (ice-breaking sea trials) in Arctic waters.

First Reads:

North Slope oil production ticked up again in 2017
Alaska Public Media, Elizabeth Harball, January 2, 2018

New analysis out on renewable energy costs in rural Alaska
Alaska Public Media, Ravenna Koenig, January 2, 2018

Russian Navy announces it will significantly expand Arctic air patrols
Arctic Now/Independent Barents Observer, Atle Staalesen, January 2, 2018

Is Alaska’s climate risk, a credit risk?
Alaska Public Media, Rashah McChesney, January 2, 2018

Coal’s future in Asia is far from bleak
S&P Global Platts, Deepak Kannan, January 3, 2018

Ice-breaking LNG carrier for Yamal LNG project named Vladimir Rusanov
LNG Industry, Will Owen, January 2, 2018