Morning Headlamp — Craig Richards’ New Boss

Speaking at a recent conference in Anchorage, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack called Armstrong Oil and Gas’ Pikka Unit on the North Slope a major discovery and critical to coming production. Armstrong Energy director Ed Kerr said the company aims to deliver first oil in 2022. “We are actually moving ahead,” Kerr said. “We’re not contemplating it, we’re not formulating our thoughts on it — we’re prosecuting on it.” One thing Armstrong is less excited about this winter is negotiating with lawmakers. Like other small companies, Kerr said Armstrong is worried about how oil production taxes could change as the legislature takes on the state’s budget crisis. Headlamp shares that concern. The new co-chairs of House Resources, Democrats Geran Tarr and Andy Josephson have already expressed an interest in modifying oil and gas tax policy. Again. For what would be the 7th time in 12 years. 

New digs. Former Attorney General Craig Richards will be the vice president and general counsel for the Bering Straits Native Corporation. “Really, what convinced me that it was the right place for me was just meeting everyone and seeing what a good rapport and good team environment they have, and the ability to help out the Nome region,” Richards said. Richards was a close adviser to Walker on the proposed natural gas pipeline and on Walker’s plan to solve the state government’s budget crisis. He said he’ll miss working in the upcoming legislative session.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, is reportedly under consideration as chief overseer of the nation’s public lands in the administration of president-elect Donald Trump. Whether Interior is headed by McMorris Rodgers or another candidate — who reportedly also include former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and oil-products executive Forrest Lucas — the agency is likely to chart an unabashedly pro-fossil fuels course under the Trump administration.


Top News from S & P Global Market Intelligence

Renewables make lame-duck push for tax extenders
Renewable energy advocates are making a last-ditch effort to convince the outgoing Congress to extend tax credits for a handful of nascent technologies that were left out of a deal that the wind and solar industries struck with lawmakers in late 2015. Facing an uncertain policy future under President-elect Donald Trump, wind and solar companies have taken comfort in the expectation that the production and investment tax credits will support development into the next decade.

Proponents’ hope dims for streamlined LNG approvals in current Congress
provision that would expedite approvals for LNG export projects is looking increasingly unlikely in 2016, as lawmakers spar over an energy bill in the little time left before the end of the current Congress. Despite initial support, language that would mandate a streamlined schedule for the U.S. Department of Energy to approve LNG export proposals may no longer be “in play,” Bill Cooper, a senior policy adviser for the House Committee on Natural Resources, said Nov. 29 at the American Gas Association’s Natural Gas Roundtable.

Market, election optimism doubles coal market value since November 2015
A mix of market and postelection optimism has helped drive up the market value of major U.S. coal producers, resulting in an increase of nearly 130% since November 2015. According to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of the market capitalization of major public U.S. coal producers, the industry’s value has climbed from $4.82 billion in November 2015 to almost $11 billion as of November 25th of this year.


First Reads

Armstrong Oil and Gas has high hopes for another North Slope find this winter
Alaska Public Radio News, Rachel Waldholz, November 29, 2016

Former Attorney General Richards joins Bering Straits Native Corp.
Alaska Public Radio News, Andrew Kitchenman, November 29, 2016

Trump’s energy-policy advisers have ties to oil industry
Alaska Dispatch News, November 29, 2016

Feds seek Kodiak feedback on dispersants avoidance areas
Juneau Empire, November 29, 2016

NYT report: Trump considering U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Interior post
The Seattle Times, Jim Brunner, November 29, 2016