Morning Headlamp — ANWR Exploration Push to Come?

The great mystery of our time. According to David Houseknecht with the US Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia, the amount of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is, “Sort of like a murder mystery — you know — a paperback book.” As the Trump administration gets ready to take the White House in January, the debate about unlocking the region will likely flare up again. USGS estimates the region holds somewhere between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of oil in the coastal plain. Those are huge numbers. For comparison, Alaska’s second biggest oil field, Kuparuk, holds about 2.5 billion barrels. So there could be an oil bonanza in the coastal plain — or not. In 2014, Alaska sued the Obama administration when it refused to let the state study the coastal plain’s oil potential. Alaska’s politicians are hoping a Trump administration will finally let them find out if a huge oil discovery lies beneath the refuge.

Splitting the field. NBC News reports, sources close to Trump expect him to announce Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt as his nomination to head the EPA. Alaska remains split on the candidate. “Alaskans appreciate clean water [and] clean air and if the standards are moved back that’s not something that will benefit the state,” said arctic program director for The Wilderness Society Lois Epstein. “It’s not going to benefit tourism. It’s not going to benefit the economy.” Those within the energy sector are much more optimistic about Pruitt’s potential for Alaska. “From what I understand, his personal philosophy as well as his previous testimony is very much in line with what the oil and gas industry would support,” said president of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association Kara Moriarty. Headlamp hopes that should Mr. Pruitt be chosen to lead the agency he will greatly consider the economic impacts of the EPA’s decisions.

Belabored oilfield service providers are turning to Chapter 11 creditor protection to shed debt and raise cash so they can spend and invest again. Without bankruptcy, many small and medium-sized service companies risk missing out on any upturn that could follow President-elect Donald Trump’s pro-drilling agenda or OPEC’s plan to cut oil production for the first time in eight years, restructuring advisors said. In June through October, nine companies with at least $100 million in debt filed for Chapter 11, with a total of $9 billion in liabilities, according to Haynes & Boone. That exceeded the total for the prior 18 months, which came to $8.2 billion in debt from seven filings with at least $100 million in debt.


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First Reads

How much oil is really in ANWR?
Alaska Public Radio News, Elizabeth Harball, December 7, 2016

Groups in Alaska divided over possibility of Pruitt as new head of EPA
KTUU, Travis Khachatoorian, December 7, 2016

State moves to update its petroleum spill guidelines
Alaska Public Radio News, Rashah McChesney, December 8, 2016

Eyeing upswing, more U.S. oilfield service firms restructure
Reuters, Tom Hals & Tracy Rucinski, December 7, 2016