Morning Headlamp – Oil prices on a three week low; Manchin at Energy?

oil chartHow low will we go? Oil prices continued to fall on Tuesday morning, following a sell-off on Monday triggered by a stronger U.S. dollar, concerns over growing supply from non-OPEC producers, and signs of potential slowed oil demand growth in China.

Cruising the Northwest Passage. When the CCGS Amundsen breaks through a 10-foot (or thicker) piece of ice, it rides on top of it first, the whole front of the ship sliding onto the sheet as the boat comes to a stop. Then the ship, 100 yards long and weighing 6,000 tons, crushes down, and its sharp hull splits the ice and pushes the fragments to either side.  Here in the ice-clogged Victoria Strait, there’s much crushing to do. These are the icy waters that famously claimed the ships of Sir John Franklin in the late 1840s, even though he set out with Britain’s strongest steam-powered vessels of the time — and, climate change or not, they don’t feel so different today.

Port’s poor condition. At 7 a.m. June 26, the Holland America cruise ship MS Amsterdam docked at the port. Waves kicked up by the ship while it was docking broke the severely corroded underwater base of two columns holding up the port — causing a 57,000-pound dock fender to break off and sink into the adjacent berth. The fender narrowly missed the cruise ship. There was no damage or injuries reported. But the incident prompted an Alaska maritime organization to send a worried letter to Mayor Ethan.

More than one way to skin a cat. Some White House and Republican officials are exploring the idea of putting West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in charge of the Energy Department, according to four people familiar with the discussions, a move that could boost President Donald Trump’s stalled legislative agenda. If Manchin were offered and accepted the position, that would allow West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice — a newly minted Republican — to appoint a GOP successor and bring the party a vote closer in the Senate to being able to repeal Obamacare. The idea is in the early stages of consideration, and it’s unclear whether it has support within the administration, according to the people, who described the conversations under condition of anonymity.

Challengers for all Juneau Assembly seats. The three Juneau Assembly incumbents whose terms expire this year are seeking re-election and each race will be contested. Election day is Tuesday, Oct. 3. The first Juneau Assembly debate is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 14 in Assembly Chambers. The League of Women Voters is sponsoring it.

Soldotna Annexation Round 2. The city of Soldotna is continuing its research into the annexation of nearby areas currently outside of city boundaries by creating a forum for public engagement. The city hired The Athena Group, a consulting agency based in Olympia, Washington, to design and facilitate a process that “will allow everyone to be heard and to hear each other,” according a release from the city.  In December, the Soldotna City Council approved an ordinance to appropriate $50,000 to spend on gathering public input on the hotly contested issue, which, for years, has continued to appear on the agenda and ignite debate.

A “Fortress” for data. A small town in the remote north of the Arctic Circle is set to be home to the world’s largest data center. The Kolos facility is being developed by a US-Norwegian partnership, also called Kolos, who say the site will eventually draw on a record-setting 1000 megawatts of power. On their website, Kolos claim Ballangen’s cold climate and access to hydropower will help trim energy costs by as much as 60 percent.

A Texan headed south with an Okie under each arm. Happiness. Alaska’s journey began in 1968, when ARCO and Humble Oil & Refining Co. discovered the largest oil field in North America on Alaska’s frigid North Slope. After overcoming years of legal battles, eight companies joined forces to build an 800-mile pipeline from northern Alaska to the ice-free port of Valdez. The last section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) had been welded into place, and a steady flow of Alaska crude was being shipped to market. Across the state, tens of thousands of pipeline workers drawn to Alaska by the promise of adventure and large paychecks were beginning to scatter.

First Reads:

What it’s like to ride a 6,000-ton icebreaker through Arctic waters
Actic Now/Washington Post, Chris Mooney, August 15, 2017

Anchorage’s port is already falling apart. With the clock ticking, who will pay to fix it?
Alaska Dispatch News, Devin Kelly, August 14, 2017

Manchin Emerges as Possible Pick for Energy Department
Bloomberg, Kevin Cirilli, Jennifer Jacobs and Steve T. Dennis, August 11, 2017

Soldotna hires consultants to open annexation conversation
Peninsula Clarion, Kat Sorensen, August 14, 2017

Oil Prices Fall To 3-Week Lows On Flurry Of Bearish News
OilPrice.com, Tsvetana Paraskova, August 15, 2017

World’s largest data center to be built in Arctic Circle
CNBC, David Reid, August 15, 2017

Disaster, decline and hope for an aging mega project
EE News, Margaret Kriz Hobson, August 14, 2017