Morning Headlamp: A Tale of Two Walkers – Best of Times, Worst of Times

It was the best of times: A wide array of Wisconsin environmental regulations would be waived in an effort to speed up construction of a $10 billion Foxconn electronics factory under a proposal Gov. Scott Walker unveiled Friday. Walker called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to consider his measure as early as Tuesday. It also would borrow $252 million to finish rebuilding Interstate 94, which connects Milwaukee with Chicago and runs near where the massive display panel factory is expected to be built. The plant would be the first outside of Asia to produce liquid crystal display monitors used in computers, televisions and other devices. Walker calls it a once-a-generation opportunity to transform Wisconsin’s economy. The envisioned factory, expected to open in 2020, would be 20 million square feet on a campus that spans 1.56-square-miles in what Walker is calling the “Wisconn Valley.” It would initially employ 3,000 people, but the deal calls for that to grow to 13,000 within six years

It was the worst of times: Gov. Bill Walker said Friday that he will probably run for re-election. But he currently has more pressing issues on his mind — including crafting a tax bill that he hopes will garner support from lawmakers. In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Walker said it’s imperative that revenue issues be addressed this year.  He expects to unveil a tax proposal for consideration sometime this year, but he could not provide a timeline for doing so or details on what the bill might include. He did say it would not be an oil tax bill. Headlamp doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Regardless, cheers to our cheesehead friends.  P.S.  Taxes Weaken Investment. 

US Capital Cliff Notes. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay, and that’s in large part because of Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Alaska’s senior U.S. Senator cast one of three decisive votes early Friday, joining fellow Republicans Sen. John McCain (Arizona) and Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), plus all of the U.S. Senate’s Democrats. The Friday vote is only part of the story, however, and Murkowski isn’t the only U.S. Senator from Alaska. If you’re just catching up with the health care story, or you’re looking for a quick summary of the past week, this is it.

Taxes weaken investment. A recent study from the Fraser Institute highlights a substantial problem for Ontario’s economy—the fact that business investment to the province remains weak. In fact, business investment still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels. After more than a decade of anemic economic growth, the province has finally seen growth tick back up over the past year, thanks largely to a booming housing market in Toronto. For a province that has suffered so much economic pain, an uptick in growth is certainly good news—but weak business investment raises concerns about the province’s prospects for sustainable growth over the long term. But why is business investment to Ontario so weak? The study identifies a number of factors that contribute to the high cost of doing business in Ontario, which likely discourage investment, including the province’s high tax rates in key categories. Specifically, the study draws attention to Ontario’s uncompetitive personal income tax system. (Paging Governor B. Walker, are you listening?)

Robots boost oil output. At a time when the five biggest oilfield servicers — still smarting from the price rout — have cut almost $1 billion from their research budgets, companies such as Ambyint Inc. are stepping into the breach. Ambyint uses iPhone-sized computers, digital signals and complex algorithms to control the flow of oil from older wells, boosting output and avoiding downtime. The old guard is taking note. This month, Halliburton Co., the largest provider of fracking services, bought Summit ESP, a company armed with 44 patents for technology to improve production. That followed by two months Helmerich & Payne Inc.’s acquisition of Motive Drilling Technologies Inc., with 14 patents, another dozen pending, and software in hand that can robotically steer drill bits located more than a mile underground.

More Korean LNG.  South Korea’s state-run Korea Gas Corp. has jointly submitted a preliminary bid with POSCO Daewoo Corp. construction for a terminal for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Bangladesh, according to Korea Gas officials on Sunday. A consortium formed by Korea Gas and POSCO Daewoo recently submitted its expression of interest to the Bangladesh government for the terminal with an annual capacity of 7.5 million tons of LNG.

Offshore easier in Africa. Cameroon plans to begin exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) later this year using a newly designed offshore plant that analysts say could slash production costs and unlock African reserves not previously considered economically viable. West and Central Africa’s Gulf of Guinea has seen a wave of new oil and gas exploration, particularly since Tullow Oil discovered Ghana’s huge Jubilee gas field in 2007. But the cost of pipelines and onshore liquefaction facilities means that relatively few gas finds have been developed. However, a new technology has the potential to boost West and Central Africa’s efforts to exploit its vast gas resources by allowing smaller plants to ship gas from less accessible fields. An FLNG vessel owned by Golar LNG will dock offshore Cameroon’s Atlantic coast in the coming weeks for testing. It will liquefy natural gas produced in nearby offshore fields for shipment directly overseas. Russia’s Gazprom has the rights to ship the gas to customers in Asia, Europe or South America. “Deploying offshore liquefaction facilities bypasses some of the difficulties associated with building infrastructure onshore. Sometimes, offshore is simply easier,” said Jean-Baptiste Bouzard, sub-Saharan analyst at Wood Mackenzie.

Gold fever. Endurance Gold Corp. July 24 said induced polarization and ground magnetic surveys carried out at its Elephant gold property in Interior Alaska have identified four prioritized geophysical anomalies that warrant drilling. The largest of these is a linear east-west trending low that entirely bisects the area covered by 43 line-kilometers of IP and 39 line-kilometers of magnetic surveying completed during the program.

Russian retaliation. Russia ramped up its retaliation against the United States over new sanctions passed by American lawmakers on Sunday, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that U.S. diplomatic and consular positions must be reduced to 755 staff, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports. All weekend, as the world waited, Putin didn’t utter a word on the topic. He was busy with the pomp of Russia’s Navy Day, both a celebration and a reminder to the international community that Russian muscle extends out over the oceans.

In a heartbeat. The Alaska Public Offices Commission has assessed a penalty of $725 against Heartbeat of Homer – Assembly Recall, the political group that registered to advocate for recalling three Homer City Council members. In a July 20 letter, APOC claimed that Heartbeat of Homer filed Independent Expenditure, or IE, reports 29 days late.

First Reads:

Alaska governor plans to propose tax bill to ease money woes
AP, Becky Boher, July 29, 2017

Scott Walker’s Foxconn deal waives all environmental regulations and permits
Wisconsin Gazette, Scott Bauer, July 30, 2017

The simple (Alaskan) guide to what happened in Congress this week
Juneau Empire, James Brooks, July 30, 2017

Obstacles to business investment in Ontario—uncompetitive tax rates
Fraser Institute, Ben Eisen and David Watson, July 26, 2017

Oilfield Rush to High-Tech Helps Smaller Companies Thrive
Bloomberg, David Wethe, July 26, 2017

Korea Gas, POSCO Daewoo jointly bid for LNG terminal in Bangladesh
O&G News Links, July 30, 2017

African LNG Exports To Get Boost From Offshore Projects
O&G News Links, July 28, 2017

Mining News: Endurance Gold identifies new Elephant Mountain drill targets
North of 60 Mining News, Shane Lasley, July 30, 2017

Russia ramps up retaliation against United States over new sanctions
KTVA, July 30, 2017

APOC assesses penalty against Heartbeat of Homer
Peninsula Clarion, Michael Armstrong, July 29, 2017