Alaska House ends month-long standoff, elects speaker
Becky Bohrer, Associated Press, February 14, 2019
Alaska state Rep. Bryce Edgmon, who changed his party affiliation from Democrat to undeclared earlier this week, was elected House speaker on Thursday, ending a standoff that had paralyzed the chamber. The 21-18 vote came on the 31st day of the legislative session — the longest stretch the House had gone without electing a permanent speaker. It also came the day after Gov. Mike Dunleavy released a budget proposal with sweeping cuts. The House was limited in what it could do without a permanent speaker and majority organization. While lawmakers held private and informational public meetings, they had yet to hear a single bill.
Our Take: The leopard changed his spots and became the House speaker.
Findings released regarding governor’s bid to fire head of state oil and gas watchdog agency
Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk, February 14, 2019
The state Department of Law has released a “findings of fact” report on whether Gov. Michael Dunleavy has grounds to remove the head of a state oil and gas watchdog agency. The report was prepared by Tim Petumenos, a private attorney who, at Dunleavy’s request, presided over a hearing last week regarding whether French should remain in his position. By law, AOGCC commissioners can only be fired for cause. Petumenos found “substantial evidence” that French was chronically absent from the office, that he failed to perform routine work that then had to be taken on by others at the agency “and that this affected morale at the office,” he wrote in the report.
Our Take: “ His chronic absences didn’t hurt or delay the work of the commission” – um, because, as Petumenos pointed out – other people were doing his work. It’s a great gig if you can get it – $140,000 a year and you don’t have to show up for work or do your work!
Coal exports out of this resource-rich nation brought in record-high revenue last year, according to government data released this month.
The big picture: As concerns about climate change grow, coal is considered on its way out. But for many growing economies in Southeast Asia that are Australia’s biggest coal customers, it’s often seen as the preferred, cheapest electricity option.
Driving the news: Coal exports brought in a record $66 billion (in Australian dollars) in export value last year, according to data from the government’s Bureau of Statistics released earlier this month.
The data also shows that coal surpassed iron ore to become the biggest export in Australia, one of the world’s largest exporters of fossil fuels and other resources.
From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
WHITE HOUSE HAS GRANTED ONE QUARTER OF TARIFF EXCLUSION REQUESTS: The White House has granted about one out of every four requests made for an exception to its 25 percent steel tariffs, granting relief to companies that say they can’t find comparable products made inside the U.S.
“As of February 11th, 66,001 steel and 9,548 aluminum exclusion requests have been filed. Overall, 21,468 steel exclusion decisions have been posted (16,093 were approved),” Commerce Department spokesman Kevin Manning told the Washington Examiner. The ratio of requests made to exclusions granted has held steady over the last few months.
Republican leader says Senate will vote on Green New Deal
Valeric Volcovici, Reuters, February 12, 2019
Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the U.S. Senate will vote on a “Green New Deal” introduced by Democrats that aims to slash U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to negligible levels in a decade. “I’ve noted with great interest the Green New Deal, and we’re going to be voting on that in the Senate, give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal,” McConnell said.
Our Take: Let’s get ready to rumble – Markey vs. McConnell, renewables vs. fossil fuels. Markey’s accusation that calling for a vote will sabotage the plan leaves Headlamp wondering what flavor of Kool aid Markey was drinking when writing a bill that calls for the elimination of fossil fuels and no more airplane travel.
Goldman sees oil rising toward $70, says demand forecasts are too gloomy
Tom DiChristopher, CNBC, February 13, 2019
- Goldman Sachs sees Brent crude prices peaking at $67.50 a barrel in the second quarter of the year.
- Brent is struggling to break through $64 a barrel following a sharp oil price pullback at the end of 2018.
- Goldman says the Street is underestimating oil demand and thinks OPEC is taking a “shock and awe” approach to cutting output.
Our Take: Today Governor Dunleavy will release his FY 2020 budget. The revenue numbers are based on oil at $65 a barrel.
Saudi Arabia plans to reduce its crude oil production further, to 9.8 million bpd in March, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in an interview for the Financial Times. This compares with more than 11 million bpd produced in November.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
HOWARD SCHULTZ SAYS GREEN NEW DEAL ‘NOT REALISTIC’: Possible independent presidential candidate and Democratic spoiler Howard Schultz on Tuesday night criticized the Green New Deal, warning it would be “immoral” to spend trillions of dollars on an “unrealistic” solution.
The billionaire former Starbucks CEO and executive chairman, speaking at a town hall hosted by CNN, urged Democrats to be “truthful” about their environmental initiatives rather than just throwing policies “against the wall because it’s a good slogan.”
Could there be seismic in the Arctic Refuge this winter after all?
Elizabeth Harball, KTOO News, Feb 11, 2019
During the final public meeting in Alaska on oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a top Interior official said there’s still a possibility that some seismic exploration could be done there this winter. The statement comes after Interior confirmed last week that the early stage oil exploration effort proposed by company SAExploration was off the table this season. Regulators limit seismic exploration to winter, when snow cover helps protect the tundra. Environmental groups and Gwich’in leaders opposed to oil development in the Refuge celebrated the news — they had raised concerns about seismic exploration’s potential impacts. But today, the Anchorage Daily News reported that SAExploration is still pursuing work this winter. During a press conference, Interior’s Joe Balash confirmed that there may still be some wiggle room.
Our take: A huge thank you to the BLM for changing format and taking the time to hear from all interested parties. The Anchorage hearing ran smoothly and many perspectives were voiced. Thank you to everyone who showed up to voice support for opening the 10-02 region in ANWR. Written comments may be submitted here until March 13.
The Trump administration says it’s sticking to plans for an Arctic refuge oil lease sale by year’s end
Yereth Rosen, Arctic Today, Feb 12, 2019
Joe Balash, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management, said the department plans to complete its environmental review, reach a record of decision and open up the first round of bidding before the end of 2019. “Can all of that happen this year? We think so,” he told reporters during a public meeting in Anchorage on proposed ANWR leasing. The meeting was the seventh of eight scheduled to collect public input on a draft environmental impact statement released in December by the Bureau of Land Management. Balash said Interior officials will “take as long as is necessary to do a robust job and come out with a solid product” that is good for the nation and that minimizes impacts to the region’s Porcupine caribou herd, a point of contention in the drilling debate.
“We think we’ll be done with the EIS sometime in the third quarter this year, but, you know, we thought we would be further along than we are now,” he said.
Our take: Based on yesterday’s hearing, it is clear that the BLM is taking the draft EIS and related concerns very seriously. It is obvious that much hard work and tireless hours that have been spent on the draft EIS. Hopefully by year’s end we see this hard work translate into fruitful studies in ANWR.
Holdout Kenai lawmaker agrees to break leadership deadlock in Alaska House
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, Feb 11, 2019
“I’m going to be the 21st vote to support a Republican-led coalition or caucus,” Knopp said. With Knopp’s support, the other 20 members of the House Republican caucus could vote to elect Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy, as speaker of the House when the House meets at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The vote could have taken place Monday evening but for the absence of Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski. Monday was the 28th day of the legislative session; the old record for disorganization was 22 days, in 1981. Without a speaker of the House, legislation cannot be introduced, bills cannot advance, and the general activities of the House are limited. Twenty-one votes are needed in the 40-person House to elect a speaker.
Our take: Good to see representative Knopp join his peers to finally have some organization down in Juneau. This is especially critical with the Governor’s budget set to release tomorrow, February 13. Hopefully the election of a speaker happens without incident and the newly formed Republican majority can work together for the remainder of session.
The Biggest Threat To Oil Market Stability
Nick Cunningham, OilPrice.com, Feb 11, 2019
Standard Chartered singled out the U.S. government as a major source of volatility. “If the balances were the sole driver of OPEC output policy, the stage would have been set for a relatively quiet year,” the investment bank wrote. “However, there is a disruptive factor in the market which is likely to complicate policy choices; U.S. policy has become harder to predict.” After a quiet first year from President Trump, 2018 was markedly different. “13 market-moving tweets on oil expressing a strong desire for lower prices, significant developments in policy towards Iran and Venezuela, and a sense that domestic energy policy is in a period of substantial flux,” Standard Chartered wrote. “We think that the oil market, oil producers and oil analysts have yet to adapt fully to the uncertainty and policy risks injected into the oil market by the Trump presidency.”
From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
SENATE SET TO APPROVE PUBLIC LANDS PACKAGE: The Senate is expected to approve a public lands package Tuesday evening that would permanently reauthorize the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Congress let expire last year.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the chairwoman of the Natural Resources Committee, and Maria Cantwell of Washington, the panel’s former top Democrat who stepped down from that position this year, have long pushed for the lands package, which also includes measures increasing sportsmen’s access to federal lands, boosting economic development in dozens of communities through land exchanges, and conserving lands of special importance.
New life for key public lands fund: Environmental groups had criticized the Senate for failing to permanently reauthorizing the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund during the last session of Congress. The LWCF gets its money from offshore oil and gas leases, rather than taxpayer money, and pays for public lands projects. It provides money to federal, state, and local governments for buying land and waters to improve national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public areas.
Amendment to limit Antiquities Act fails: During debate of the lands package, the Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that would have blocked presidents from using executive authority to declaring national monuments in his state.
Lee and other conservatives have argued presidents, most recently Barack Obama, have abused the Antiquities Act in protecting larger and large swaths of public land as national monuments, and hindering the activities of ranchers.
Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce casts doubt on LNG project
Kat Sorenson, The Peninsula Clarion, February 10, 2019
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce joins an Alaska energy expert in casting doubt on the proposed Nikiski LNG pipeline. At Friday’s Seward Chamber of Commerce meeting, Pierce said he agreed with Larry Persily, former federal official for Alaska gas pipeline projects and chief of staff for former borough mayor Mike Navarre, who said last week that there is “no possible way” that the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation would make a final investment decision by the end of 2019.
Hearing concludes regarding French’s fate at head of state oil and gas watchdog agency
Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk, February 8, 2019
A three-day public hearing ended Friday regarding Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s bid to remove Hollis French from his position as chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. According to a letter from the governor’s office obtained Thursday by Alaska Public Media, there are five charges against French, described as follows: “chronic, unexcused absenteeism,” “browbeating fellow commissioners,” “publicly undermining the work of AOGCC,” “security breaches” and “failure to perform routine AOGCC work.”
Our Take: You had us at “chronic, unexcused absenteeism…”
Sen. Hoffman Predicts A Long Legislative Session Since No House Speaker Elected
Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK, February 7, 2019
The Alaska State House has set a record for the most days into a legislative session with no House Speaker elected. Thursday marks the 24th day without a speaker. With the House unable to formally deliberate bills or form committees until a leader is elected, Democratic Sen. Lyman Hoffman of Bethel is predicting another long session ahead.
Our Take: The house minority (16 democrats and 1 independent) is having a tough time letting go of their power. This is an excellent case for why the legislative session should be held on the road system. If more Alaskan residents were present to witness the blatant quests for power instead of getting down to business…
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is seeking to oust former Democratic state senator Hollis French from his position at the top of a state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry. A two-page letter from Dunleavy last month charges French with “neglect of duty and misconduct,” and levies five charges to justify the governor’s bid to remove French from chairmanship of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Dunleavy accuses French of typically working no more than four hours a day and pursuing “non-work-related interests” while in the office, among other charges. But the letter includes no supporting documentation or evidence.
Our Take: Long before this action was taken, word on the street was Mr. French had an attendance problem at work. If that is true, he shouldn’t be a Commissioner. Lots of qualified folks would be happy to earn $140,000 annually and work full time. Too bad the writers of this piece chose to make it Republican vs. Democrat before doing more research.
A road to somewhere: Why the Ambler Road makes sense
David Prum, Anchorage Daily News, February 8, 2019
As we move forward toward a carbon-free energy economy, there will be some tough environmental choices to be made. Expanding zero-carbon energy sources will require massive new sources of certain materials that can only be mined from the earth with a certain amount of local environmental disruption. Copper is one of those essential materials. All the new technologies powering any new revolution in green energy require copper as a conductive material. Solar panels, electric vehicles, wind turbines, new efficient batteries and the smart electrical grid to connect them all require copper. The investments in these necessary technologies will require massive new sources of copper.
From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE PASSES NOPEC BILL: The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a bill allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC under antitrust laws for price fixing and production cuts.
The bill, No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC), looks to protect U.S. shale producers from price swings created by OPEC.
It passed in a unanimous voice vote but is unlikely to move in the House with oil prices relatively low.
May the odds be (N)ever in your favor: rough day for LNG, electric cars, permanent fund, and ANWR exploration
LNG Pipeline just a pipe dream?
Brian Mazurek, Peninsula Clarion, February 6, 2019
“There is no LNG project coming in the near future.”
At the latest Kenai/Soldotna Joint Chamber Luncheon, speaker Larry Persily — a former federal official for Alaska gas pipeline projects and chief of staff for former borough mayor Mike Navarre — expressed doubts that the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) would make a final investment decision regarding this project by the end of 2019. “I don’t speak for them, I’m just telling you: there’s no possible way it could happen,” said Persily during his presentation at the Joint Chamber Luncheon on Wednesday. Persily laid out the reasons why he is convinced the pipeline is more of a pipe dream than a reality. Persily’s three main arguments revolved around increased competition from other LNG projects, decreased demand from China and a lack of essential pieces to the puzzle. Without any partners, customers or money, the Alaska LNG project seems to be dead in the water, he said.
Our take: While an economically viable LNG project is appealing, not having the appropriate market conditions certainly sounds like a reason to not pursue this project.
AAA confirms what Tesla, BMW, Nissan electric car owners suspected — cold weather saps EV range. Even turning on the car drains power
Paul A. Eisenstein, CNCB, Feb. 6, 2019
Hoping to increase the appeal of their battery-electric vehicles, automakers have begun rolling out an assortment of “long-range” models, such as the Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Jaguar I-Pace and Nissan Leaf Plus. Under ideal conditions, these products can deliver more than 200 miles per charge and, in some cases, even 300. But as many owners discovered last week as winter storms slammed much of the country, cold weather does not qualify as “ideal.” A new AAA study finds that when the thermometer dropped to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, range fell by an average of 41 percent on the five models it tested.
Alaska Permanent Fund value drops 3.2% in first half of fiscal year amid volatile financial markets
Elwood Brehemer, ADN, February 7, 2019
“Within a long-term investment horizon, it is anticipated that the global markets will go up and down; it is a part of the buying, selling, trading process of the portfolio’s holdings,” Rodell said. “And while we invest with the intent that they will go up more than they go down, there are going to be dips. Our team is poised to take advantage of those dips.” Despite the negative returns, the fund outperformed the corporation’s passive investment index benchmark, which comparably measured losses of 6.54 percent in the first half of fiscal 2019, according to a Feb. 4 APFC release.
The challenging first half to fiscal 2019 is in stark contrast to 2018 when the corporation achieved returns of 10.74 percent. Calculated as 5.25 percent of the fund’s five-year average value, the fiscal 2020 percent of market value, or POMV, appropriation is expected to be roughly $2.9 billion.
Interior: No 3-D Seismic exploration in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this winter
Elizabeth Harball, Alaska Public Media, February 6, 2019
Seismic exploration can only be done in winter, and the company needed approvals from Interior to do the work. Originally, the agency had hoped to get the project permitted last summer. But in November, top Interior official Joe Balash acknowledged the agency was pressed for time to complete the approvals. Balash said it was taking time for the company to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service on compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. And according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News, the government shutdown further delayed the work.
Our take: Disappointing that we won’t see exploration this winter. Jobs lost due to permitting delays. We will continue to work with our state and federal administration to find ways to make permitting effective and efficient.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
MANCHIN: THE KEY IN PONDERING ‘IDEOLOGY’ VS. ‘REALITY’ OF THE GREEN NEW DEAL: Sen. Joe Manchin, the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, spent most of Thursday morning trying to get his head around the “Green New Deal,” as a resolution on the progressive agenda was being introduced in both chambers.
Manchin labeled the progressive green agenda a set of “ideological beliefs” at a committee hearing on energy innovation, but also said he wanted to understand the “real world” consequences of it and if other countries are going to follow the U.S. in pursuing the agenda.
Manchin said he feared “people using their own facts” to justify the agenda.
Thursday’s was the second hearing for Manchin as ranking member. He is a centrist Democrat with close ties to conservatives, but also wants to see investment by the government in transforming the fossil fuel industry — primarily coal — into a low-carbon energy.
He focused on two pieces of innovation to flesh out the low-emission side of the green agenda.
First, he wants to beef up the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, or at least see that the remaining $30-$40 billion that the program is authorized for is used for moving the ball forward to commercialize new energy technologies.
Ernest Moniz, the previous administration’s energy chief, suggested at the hearing that the committee could pass legislation to expand the loan program to include energy infrastructure development, which would be a change that would help the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Second, Manchin wants to see the successful commercialization of converting coal mines into resources for generating “rare earth” minerals needed to build the batteries for electric cars and other technologies required for renewables and other technology.
A principal for a project being advanced with federal help in his home state of West Virginia said the process should be commercial in a year.
The technology is focused on transitioning the coal mining industry toward a new, cleaner way of mining for minerals that will be needed for advanced technologies for a clean energy transition, but also for defense applications and things like iPhones.
Right now, most of the rare earth minerals the U.S. needs are imported from China.
Power-sharing among options Alaska House is exploring
Associated Press, February 5, 2019
An Alaska House Democratic leader says members will need to wrestle with whether a power-sharing agreement is the best option for organizing the chamber. Rep. Bryce Edgmon says lawmakers have explored other options and none so far has materialized. A group of eight representatives has been looking at power-sharing arrangements in other states. Edgmon says other scenarios are also floating around.
Our Take: Regardless of the outcome of house organization, trusting anything that Rep Knopp says or does will be difficult.
Wild price swings may be the new normal for crude oil markets as US, Russia and Saudis vie for influence
Patti Domm, CNBC, February 5, 2019
- The three largest oil producers are locked in a new world order that could mean more volatile crude oil prices.
- The U.S. has become the world’s largest producer, and U.S. production has become a major factor in world supply.
- Russia, Saudi Arabia and OPEC may wait to act after U.S. sanctions on Venezuela. A rush to add supply ahead of Iran sanctions led to prices cratering.
OPEC Pursues Formal Pact with Russia
Benoit Faucon, Summer Said, The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2019
Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies are backing a formal partnership with a 10-nation group led by Russia to try to manage the global oil market, according to OPEC officials, in an alliance that would transform the cartel. The ability of such an alliance to put a floor on oil prices would run counter to President Trump’s goal of lowering gasoline prices for U.S. consumers ahead of presidential elections next year.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
EPA CHIEF TRAVELS TO GEORGIA TO PROMOTE TRUMP’S INFRASTRUCTURE AGENDA: Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator Andrew Wheeler will travel to Georgia on Wednesday to put details to President Trump’s State of the Union address when it comes to infrastructure.
EPA announced the visit in an advisory on Tuesday before the State of the Union. Wheeler will be visiting a plant nursery in the Peach State that uses robots and other innovations to grow plants more effectively.
He will be promoting Trump’s State of the Union address, discussing EPA’s new proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, nutrient policy and ongoing efforts to modernize the nation’s aging infrastructure, EPA said.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced Wheeler’s nomination to be the next EPA administrator on Tuesday, even though he has been serving as acting chief since July and has already been confirmed as EPA’s deputy before that.
Protesters take over ANWR environmental scoping meeting
Erin McGroarty, Daily News-Miner, February 5, 2019
Activists pushing against oil development in the 1002 Coastal Plain area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge took over a public scoping meeting Monday evening that was initially supposed to go very differently. Unlike past public hearings, this meeting was organized in an open-house style, according to Joe Balash, the Department of the Interior’s assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management. Scientists stood near poster signage explaining the environmental impact statement draft process and two court stenographers sat behind a curtain to take testimony from members of the public. A presentation on the EIS drafting process began at 5 p.m. but was quickly interrupted by protesters asking why the meeting style had been changed, why the Fairbanks hearing only had five days of notice and why Alaska Natives had not been consulted in the EIS drafting process.
Our take: The Anchorage public scoping meeting will take place on Feb. 11 at the Dena’ina Center from 1 – 7pm, with presentations at 2 and 5pm. All interested parties will have the same opportunity to provide comments. We hope that the event runs smoothly and that people get the information they are looking for regarding the EIS.
Matanuska-Susitna Borough has gained the most jobs during Alaska’s recession
Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News, February 4, 2019
While most Alaska boroughs and census areas have lost jobs during the state’s economic downturn, some have gained. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough had the biggest job growth from 2015 to 2018, according to a new economic report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The borough’s job count grew 3.4 percent — or 769 jobs — during that time, comparing the first three quarters of each year, 2015 to 2018. After shedding thousands of jobs, Alaska’s oil and gas sector is expected to add a few hundred jobs this year.
Our take: Things are boding well for the oil & gas industries in Alaska, but likely remain at a stalemate until we see a budget and organization in Juneau.
Trump to nominate ex-energy lobbyist Bernhardt to head Interior
Timothy Gardner, Arctic Today, February 5th, 2019
President Donald Trump said on Monday he would nominate David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, to be secretary of the Interior, the department that oversees U.S. public lands.
Bernhardt, currently the acting secretary at the Interior Department, is widely expected to continue pushing the Trump administration’s plan to boost domestic fossil fuels production by opening more U.S. public lands to drilling and mining. “David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed,” Trump said on Twitter.
Our take: Bernhardt spoke to the Alliance last year after his appointment to Deputy Secretary of the same department and has a good understanding of Alaska.
Green New Deal won’t call for end to fossil fuels
Zack Colman, Politico, February 4th, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are expected to introduce a resolution outlining elements of the plan within days, which will include a goal for eliminating the U.S. carbon footprint by 2030, according to multiple sources. The text includes an aim to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for a fair and just transition for frontline communities and displaced workers,” among other high-level ambitions. It also opens the door to using still-unproven technology to eliminate carbon pollution from fossil fuel use — an avenue that many climate activists dismiss as an expensive dead end. But it does not explicitly call for eliminating fossil fuels themselves.
In Russia, Agreement Breaks You
Spencer Jakab, Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2019
While the victorious Bolsheviks soon adopted the calendar the rest of the world uses, perhaps a bit of lingering confusion is behind a disagreement that could pressure oil prices. Saudi Arabia, which long reigned supreme in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, rankled some members by bringing in nonmember Russia to make output cuts effective.
The only U.S. heavy icebreaker broke down on a mission to Antarctica again
Melody Schreiber, Arctic Today, February 1, 2091
The Polar Star, the only operational U.S. heavy icebreaker, reached Antarctica on its annual resupply mission to McMurdo Station on Jan. 17 — but not without encountering difficulties along the way. First, one of the electrical systems started smoking. The incident damaged wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of two evaporators used to make drinking water stopped working. Then the shaft driving the ship’s propeller began leaking. Divers, using a hyperbaric chamber on loan from the U.S. Navy, entered the waters beneath the vessel and repaired the seal. And then there were the ship-wide power outages as the vessel broke through an 18-mile stretch of solid ice, sometimes as thick as 21 feet, to McMurdo Sound. To fix those issues, the entire power system was shut down and rebooted, which took nine hours.
Permitting in Alaska should focus on quality, not page count.
Eric Fjelstad, Bill Jeffress, Anchorage Daily News, February 3, 2019
Last fall’s ballot initiative campaign made clear that there are many misperceptions about what it takes to permit a project in Alaska and, specifically, about the federal permitting process being undertaken to evaluate resource development projects. Alaska has an abundance of federally protected wetlands and federal lands, which results in federal agencies playing a key role in the permitting of resource development projects in the state. The current federal administration has made permitting reform a top priority. This is important for Alaskans because resource development is a fundamental cornerstone of our economy. However, there are interests openly advocating that Alaska’s resources should stay in the ground, and that we should not build roads or other infrastructure. These interests actively work to stop projects and are strongly resisting efforts to reform the federal permitting processes. Their latest claim, arising on multiple fronts, is that federal project evaluations are being undertaken too quickly.
UK government urged to back industry future
Anamaria Deduleasa, Upstream Online.Com, February 4, 2019
Scotland has called on the UK government to support its “ambitious” plans to ensure a long-term future for the local oil and gas industry. In a new report, the Scottish Affairs Committee recommended the UK government agree to several steps, which it calls necessary for the industry to prosper and adapt to the government’s climate change targets. According to research by the committee, which follows an in-depth inquiry with six evidence sessions with industry experts, stakeholders, environmental groups and ministers, the industry should focus on maximizing economic recovery to provide a domestic source of oil and gas.
WorleyParsons edges closer to Jacobs acquisition
Josh Lewis, Upstream Online, February 4, 2019
Australian engineering company WorleyParsons is edging closer to the completion of its $3.3 billion acquisition of Jacob Engineering’s energy, chemicals and resources segments. WorleyParsons confirmed Friday it had received regulatory approval for the deal from the European Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau, which adds to the US HSR antitrust clearance it received in December. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval in South Africa and certain pre-completion restructuring activities within Jacobs.