The gnashing of teeth continues over Governor Dunleavy’s proposed budget. A few things to remember: the legislature considers this as their starting point and will make significant changes (meaning increasing the budget). The majority message at a caucus meeting is not representative of all Alaskans, rather, what special interest does the best job of rallying their troops, and the Governor has a big, red pen. This budget debate will hinge on the PFD – how big will it be and should the previous year reductions be paid back. Based on what we are hearing from the Senate and the House – we predict no paybacks and a reduced PFD.
Craig Medred, March 1, 2019
Some days now it’s hard to avoid wondering if I’m a fool for believing anything printed in the New York Times. Old habits die hard, and most journalists who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s came to consider the “old gray lady” the standard-bearer for journalism. Over the years since, if you are a thinking journalist paying attention, it has unfortunately become clear the Times’ standards are slipping. Where once the newspaper had reporters with knowledge writing about subjects they knew, it increasingly has reporters writing about subjects they clearly do not know.
Our Take: Medred never fails to hit the nail on the head. “The biggest news organization in the country, having clearly decided it was going to write a story about global warming threatening the Iditarod, flew a reporter to Anchorage to gather the cartoon evidence. That just about perfectly sums up where too much journalism is today.” Well worth the read.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
REPUBLICANS SEEK TO COUNTER GREEN NEW DEAL WITH NEW CAUCUS: Republicans launched a new caucus Friday to represent a free-market alternative to the progressive “Green New Deal.”
The bicameral Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, introduced at the Conservative Political Action Conference, will focus on Republican values of conservation and environmental protection. It will address and “counteract centralized big government solutions” with market-based solutions to environmental issues, according to a letter sent earlier this week announcing the caucus to members of Congress obtained by John.
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Cory Gardner of Colorado founded the caucus in the upper chamber, while Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Brian Mast of Florida will lead the caucus in the lower chamber.
Although the idea of the caucus predates the Democratic announcement of the Green New Deal, it underscores the GOP’s belief in a “free market and American innovation as compared to the Green New Deal,” a Senate GOP aide said.
Climate change — it just won’t go there: The caucus will not focus on climate change, as the Green New Deal does, but instead will be concerned with returning to the conservation and environmental stewardship principles of Theodore Roosevelt. That would mean focusing on public lands issues such as conserving wildlife and ensuring against environmental degradation of rivers, streams, and animal habitats.
But the letter also references “energy independence,” a nod to oil and natural gas exports, as well as keeping U.S. leadership in the area of advanced technologies and renewable energy.
Alaska might give up on North Slope gas pipeline, LNG export terminal
Tim Bradner, S & P Global Platts, February 28, 2019
The new CEO of Alaska’s state gas corporation told legislators Thursday he is prepared to shut down the project and return unused funds to the state treasury if customers or investors do not appear in the next few months. Joe Dubler was named in January as CEO of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. by Governor Mike Dunleavy. Dubler told a state Senate budget subcommittee that Dunleavy wants an evaluation of the viability of the $43 billion Alaska LNG Project. Despite marketing efforts and about $1 billion spent in recent years on engineering and environmental work, the project has not attracted customers and faces increasing competition from other LNG projects. That includes a Shell-led project in British Columbia that would export LNG to the same Asian markets Alaska is targeting.
AGDC’s Response: FERC’s comprehensive analysis of Alaska LNG now includes more than 150,000 pages of environmental and engineering data, including responses to more than 1,700 FERC queries submitted since AGDC initiated this permitting process twenty-two months ago. Previous FERC scheduling changes accelerated the permitting calendar, and we believe that today’s revision does not affect the prospects for Alaska LNG. We look forward to working with FERC to complete this process and obtain the permits required to bring Alaska’s North Slope natural gas to market.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chaired a hearing yesterday where International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol testified about his agency’s perspective on global energy markets. IEA, which was founded in 1974, now includes 30 member countries and is a leader on global energy policy and analysis. “I see a huge opportunity for U.S. LNG, having a major market share in Asia, especially in replacing inefficient coal plants because the biggest headache today in China, India and Thailand…is the air pollution in the cities, local pollution in the cities. And natural gas may well be the key solution to all of those countries, and they’re building LNG terminals,” Dr. Birol said. “There will be a very harsh competition between the established exporters, such as Russia and the U.S. LNG, and I see many great opportunities for the U.S. LNG to have a good competition, bringing more flexibility to the markets.”
Senate Confirms Andrew Wheeler to Lead EPA
Alan Neuhauser, U.S News and World Report, February 29, 2019
The Senate on Thursday confirmed former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The 52-47 vote largely fell along party lines. Senate Democrats had vigorously opposed Wheeler’s selection to lead the federal agency most responsible for enforcing environmental laws and regulating pollution, citing his previous work on behalf of the coal sector, which in 2017 was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Annual Survey of Mining Companies, 2018
Ashley Stedman and Kenneth P. Green, Fraser Institute, February 28, 2019
Takeaways from the report include:
- Alaska ranks 5th in Investment Attractiveness (2nd in the US—Nevada ranks higher)
- Alaska ranks 26th (mid-range) in Policy Perception
- Alaska ranks 2nd in Best Practices Mineral Potential (2nd in the US—Nevada ranks higher)
- Alaska ranks 5th in the global survey ranking for investment, up from 10th in 2017
Select “Read the Whole Survey” on the Fraser Institute webpage to read more about how the rankings were formulated.
Alaska’s oil production future could be bright, but it’s also unpredictable
Rashah McChesney, Alaska’s Energy Desk, February 27, 2019
Alaska’s oil production has remained relatively flat in recent years, but there could be changes on the horizon as new fields come online on the North Slope. The state House Finance Committee heard an update from the Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday. They were told that the legacy fields — those that are currently producing oil — are still the backbone of the state’s oil production. “But as we go out, you know, five-to-six years out, projects that are expected to come online beyond this fiscal year begin to play a more important role,” said DNR Commercial Analyst Maduabuchi Pascal Umekwe. There are new projects coming online, like Hilcorp’s Milne Point Moose Pad, ConocoPhillips’ CD5 expansion and Greater Mooses Tooth 2. There are also new discoveries in development, like Oil Search’s Pikka.
Our Take: As Alaskans deal with the shock of a budget where revenues meet expenses, its important to remember that the largest funding source for the budget comes from oil production. Increase oil production, increase revenue for the state. Policy matters.
Ottawa gives $1.6 million to Kivalliq hydro-fiber link study
Sarah Rogers, Arctic Today, February 28, 2019
Canada’s federal government will help pay for a study to look at the feasibility of connecting Nunavut’s Kivalliq region west of Hudson Bay to Manitoba’s hydroelectric and fiber-optic networks. Just a few weeks after the Kivalliq Inuit Association pitched the project to federal officials in Ottawa, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) delivered support in the form of a $1.6-million investment. That will help fund a two-year technical and feasibility study on developing a hydroelectric and fibre-optic link that would connect communities in the Kivalliq region to northern Manitoba.
Our take: We have heard from our members that a fibre link to remote communities would greatly enhance operations. This is a tremendous step in both technological advancements and also in providing stable energy for studied regions.
Two U.S. bills could advance American presence in the Arctic
Melody Schreiber, Arctic Today, February 28, 2019
The two bills — the Arctic Policy Act (APA) and the Shipping and Environmental Arctic Leadership Act (SEAL Act) — were both introduced late last year but saw little movement before the session ended. Alaska Sen. Murkowski, a Republican, plans to reintroduce them this spring. Addressing the Alaska State Legislature on February 19, Murkowski framed both pieces of legislation as ways to shore up resources for Alaska and to compete on an increasingly international stage.
Wheeler nears final approval
Kelsey Tamborrino, POLITICO, February 28, 2019
The Senate will vote at 12:30 p.m. today on Andrew Wheeler’s nomination to formally become EPA administrator. Although he’s lost a few backers since his confirmation for deputy, Wheeler is expected to sail through the Republican-controlled chamber. Wheeler has faced questions over his ties to his former lobbying days, as well as over the agency’s handling of PFAS chemicals. But enough Republicans back Wheeler that he should easily clear the chamber today. Wheeler’s “experience makes him uniquely qualified to serve as the head of the agency,” Senate EPW Chairman John Barrasso said from the floor Wednesday.
Oil Has Best Start to a Year Ever as OPEC Production Falls
Amrith Ramkumar, Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2019
Oil prices are off to their best-ever start to a year as fears of a supply glut cool, part of a 2019 recovery in risky investments from stocks to commodities. Oil prices and energy stocks rose Wednesday after data showed U.S. stockpiles fell unexpectedly last week. Fears linger that demand for oil will stall. But the International Energy Agency still expects consumption to increase each quarter this year from a year earlier, albeit at a slower-than-usual pace in the first quarter. Additionally, Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have curbed output, despite calls from President Trump for the cartel to keep prices low. Anxiety also remains about the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, fueling bets that prices can at least stay steady even if the rally stalls.
POLAND SIGNS UP FOR MORE US LNG: REPORT
Tim Gosling, Natural Gas World, February 26, 2019
State-controlled PGNiG is set to agree to buy a further 3bn m3/year, according to the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily. That would boost Poland’s planned purchases of US LNG following 2022 by 40%. Late last year Poland agreed several long-term deals that will see it import around 6.7bn m3/yr from the US. PGNiG is at the forefront of the Polish government’s push to increase independence from Russian supplies, and establish itself as a hub for the region. Gazprom currently supplies around 10mn m3/y of Poland’s annual consumption of 16mn m3/yr. The pair’s long-term contract expires in 2022. Poland says it does not plan to extend the agreement.
The push to phase out heavy fuel oil in the Arctic continues
Jane George, ArcticToday, February 27, 2019
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said that reducing the risks linked to use of the fuel, commonly known as HFO, in the Arctic is “imperative” as the organization’s High Level Conference on Climate Change and Oceans Preservation in Brussels before the IMO meeting got underway in London on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Canada, along with Russia, remains one of the few countries that haven’t taken a position on the ban. This wasn’t always the case. In late 2016, Canada stated it supported a “phase down” on HFO in its Arctic waters. “Since then, Canada’s position on a HFO ban has changed — it no longer actively supports the ban — a stark contrast to many progressive countries — such as Nordic nations — who vocally support the ban,” said the Clean Arctic Alliance. Meanwhile, Canada has called for assessments into the impacts of an HFO ban on Arctic Indigenous communities.
Our take: Environmental conservation efforts should not come at the cost of communities. Canada’s approach of ensuring that there are no adverse impacts to Arctic communities should be applauded. Meanwhile, as Arctic traffic is increases, moving toward vessel fuel that produces lower emissions and presents a lower spill risk is prudent.
Governor fires chair of Alaska oil and gas commission
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News, February 26, 2019
Gov. Mike Dunleavy Tuesday removed the chair of the commission overseeing oil and gas activity, citing “neglect of duty,” following complaints from two commissioners that Hollis French spent limited time at work. The governor said his decision to remove French from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was “effective immediately,” according to a short letter addressed to French Tuesday and released by the governor’s office.
Strong demand for cleaner-burning fuel in Asia continued to drive rapid growth in liquefied natural gas (LNG) use in 2018, with global demand rising by 27 million tonnes to 319 million tonnes, according to Shell’s latest LNG Outlook.
- Growing recognition of the role of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the world tackles poor air quality and climate change
- Asian LNG imports exceed expectations again in 2018, absorbing continued supply growth
- Near-term supply growth expected to be absorbed by Europe and Asia.
- Continued need for investment in supply to meet long-term demand growth
Our Take: Good news for Asia and the rest of the world! As noted in a recent EPA report, increased natural gas use drives down air pollution. A practical solution to addressing climate change that doesn’t require joining the Paris Accord or rely on a “keep it in the ground” strategy.
Saudi Aramco CEO blasts climate campaigners’ impatience to end oil use
Nick Coleman and Alisdair Bowles, S & P Global, February 26, 2019
The CEO of Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser, on Tuesday blasted the impatience of climate change campaigners, saying the industry needed time to become cleaner and had to do its “job” of meeting global demand. Speaking at the IP Week conference in London, Nasser said Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest corporate supplier of crude oil, was making “huge” investments in efficiency and tackling emissions, in collaboration with others. But he played down the rate of uptake of electric vehicles and said technologies such as CCS (carbon capture and storage), intended to mitigate climate change by storing CO2 underground, were not yet commercially viable and, though they would eventually “prevail,” would need time to “become commercial.” Nasser said the industry faced a “crisis of perception” and urged his audience to “push back on exaggerated theories like peak oil demand,” referring to the view that oil consumption could peak as soon as the next decade.
OPEC, allies to maintain oil output cuts despite Trump
Rania El Gamal, Reuters, February 26, 2019
OPEC and its allies will stick with their agreement to cut oil supply, pushing for more adherence despite a demand by U.S. President Donald Trump that the producer group ease its efforts to boost crude prices, a Gulf OPEC source said on Tuesday. Based on current market data, the so-called OPEC+ group is “likely to continue with the production cuts until the end of the year”, the source told Reuters.
Oil and gas industry ‘left harmless’ in Dunleavy budget, Democrats say
James Brooks, February 24, 2019
Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed cuts to state services have drawn the ire of many Alaskans, but something uncut is drawing attention from the two minority members of the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, and Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, said last week that the governor is leaving the oil and gas industry untouched even as he pursues cuts to education, health care and other state services.
Our Take: This is a horrible headline, meant to make readers believe that companies like BP, Exxon and ConocoPhillips are getting money in the state budget when others are receiving drastic cuts Nothing could be further from the truth. As Kara Moriarty points out, these are payments required by law and they are going to smaller companies – like Furie, BlueCrest and Caelus. Headlamp is disappointed that the ADN intentionally chooses to mislead people. A more accurate headline would have been “Alaskan support companies remain unpaid while state attempts to pay what it owes.”
Oil Falls After Trump Warns Crude Prices ‘Too High’
Dan Molinski and David Hodari, The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2019
- Oil prices fell from three-month highs Monday after President Trump warned crude-oil prices are getting too high and could hurt the global economy.
- West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. oil standard, fell 2% to $56.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. WTI ended Friday at $57.26 a barrel, its highest closing price since Nov. 12.
Alaska GOP Gov. Dunleavy disbands state climate response team
Nathaniel Herz, Alaska’s Energy Desk, February 23, 2019
Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has formally disbanded the task force formed by his predecessor to guide the state’s response to global warming. In an administrative order this week, Dunleavy revoked a separate, 2017 order by Bill Walker, an independent, establishing the task force and a state climate change strategy. Dunleavy’s order was not publicly announced. The governor’s office sent letters to task force members around 5 p.m. Friday informing them that their work for the task force “has ended.” The state’s website dedicated to the task force and strategy also appears to have been taken down.
Our Take: Sloppy reporting by Herz. Governor Walker’s task force was led by someone who lived in Seattle, who was paid a six- figure salary in addition to the state paying for all of her travel to and from the state. And Nat, the website dedicated to the task force was removed December 5th and reported by numerous media outlets. We expect better….oh wait, no we don’t.
China en route to being world’s largest LNG import market
Natural Gas News, February 21, 2019
China became the largest single gas importer in 2018 as demand again easily outstripped production. This raises two questions. How much more imported gas will it need in coming years, and how much will comprise LNG? The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2018, published in November, projects a near-tripling in Chinese gas demand to 708bn m3 by 2040. Imports are projected to rise from 42% of gas supply in 2017 to 54% over this period. China’s voracious demand for LNG over the next decade is expected to underpin global investment in LNG production capacity.
US-China trade dispute puts a chill on American natural gas export boom
Tom DiChristopher, CNBC, February 22, 2019
- The global gas market experienced fewer disruptions than feared this winter after China slapped tariffs on U.S. liquefied natural gas.
- However, the ongoing trade dispute has halted Chinese purchases of U.S. LNG and put a chill on some new American export terminals. It threatens to sideline billions in investment.
- At least one U.S. LNG export terminal delayed a final investment decision, and analysts say the trade war could hold up other projects.
Canada’s Barrick Gold considers hostile $19 billion bid for Newmont Mining
Melanie Powers, Reuters, February 21, 2019
Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp is considering a hostile bid for Newmont Mining Corp for about $19 billion in stock, in what would potentially be one of the largest-ever mining deals, the country’s Globe and Mail newspaper reported.
Our Take: Barrick Gold is the biggest gold mining company in the world and the parent company for the Donlin project in Alaska.
90-day comment period for Pebble mine review is inadequate, Sullivan says
Becky Bohrer, Associated Press, February 21, 2019
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said a 90-day comment period is inadequate for a draft environmental review of a large copper and gold mine near the headwaters of a major Alaska fishery. “It’s a very legitimate request from my perspective to have more time to do the due diligence on a project of this size,” the Republican Sullivan told reporters Thursday, noting he would likely make a formal request for additional time.
Feds advance Alaska’s Pebble gold and copper project with release of draft environmental review
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News, February 20, 2019
The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled the first-ever draft environmental review of the controversial Pebble gold and copper project. The report is a key step in the regulatory process and will lead to a 90-day public comment period for the Southwest Alaska mine that has been in the works for more than a decade, the U.S. Army Corps said Wednesday.
Mineral import reliance US Achilles’ heel
Shane Lasley, North of 60 Mining News, February 15, 2019
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called on Congress to pass legislation that will curb the United States’ increasing dependence on foreign countries for its growing mineral needs. “Our nation is headed in the wrong direction on mineral imports. [It] is our Achilles’ heel that serves to empower and enrich nations, while costing us jobs and international competitiveness.” As Murkowski noted, minerals are fundamental to life as we know it and the building blocks of a robust economy. Yet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2017 the United States imported 50 percent of 50 mineral commodities, including 100 percent of 21 minerals.
America is losing battery metals arms race
Shane Lasley, North of 60 Mining News, February 15, 2019
The second article outlines how this reliance may impact the auto and energy storage industries in the United States, highlighting a message that Simon Moores, the managing director at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, delivered to ENR members. “He [Moores] said the growing number of electric vehicles hitting the markets, coupled with an increasing demand for electric storage for other uses, is driving unprecedented growth for lithium-ion batteries and the four key materials that go into them – graphite, lithium, cobalt and nickel. The United States is currently heavily dependent on imports for all four of these materials and risks being left behind as traditional petro-fueled automobiles give way to a future dominated by battery powered electric vehicles… Those who control these critical raw materials and those who possess the manufacturing and processing know-how, will hold the balance of industrial power in the 21st century auto and energy storage industries.”
Draft study on Alaska LNG to be released at the end of the month
Hank Davis, KTUU, February 20, 2019
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is scheduled to release a draft version of the Alaska LNG pipeline project Environmental Impact Study at the end of this month. It’s been a decades-long process to get to this point, with the $43 billion, 800-mile long pipeline, which would transport natural gas across the state.
Shell leads big oil in clean energy shift
Amy Harder, Axios, February 19, 2019
Royal Dutch Shell, one of the most aggressive global oil and gas producers on clean-energy and climate change, faces big tests on how serious it is with its pursuit. The big picture: Shell, the world’s second-largest publicly traded oil company after ExxonMobil, has over the past year ramped up enough investments and commitments in this area to surpass any other producer similar in size. CEO Ben Van Beurden is far more forceful than most other oil executives about positioning his company to profit off a world drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions as envisioned in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
Getting the facts on the upstream carbon impact of ANWR development
Liam Zsolt, Peninsula Clarion, February 19, 2019
On Monday, Feb. 11, I had the privilege of watching democracy in action, right here in Anchorage. The draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) was released, and public comments were taken at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) furnished us with maps of the different development scenarios, impacts on the indigenous people and animal species, and a strong education on the process. Hats off to the agency for sitting through six straight hours of public comment by stakeholders from both inside as well as outside of the protected region, with a wide spectrum of coherence.
Our Take: A sad but true comment “opponents of the leasing program did not allow a lack of education on the issue to stand in the way of holding the microphone hostage.” They filibustered themselves.
Alaska House’s new organization means an uphill climb for governor’s priorities, legislators say
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, February 20, 2019
The fate of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposals to roll back a controversial overhaul of Alaska’s criminal justice system will be determined in part by one of the state Legislature’s most prominent advocates of data-based reform. Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, has been named chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to consider the governor’s anti-crime bills if they receive the approval of the Alaska Senate. Claman is the chairman of the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission. The recommendations of that commission — before Claman joined — formed the basis of the criminal justice reform legislation known as Senate Bill 91. Subsequent recommendations contributed to legislative efforts to fix problems with SB 91.
The Drilling Productivity Report uses recent data on the total number of drilling rigs in operation along with estimates of drilling productivity and estimated changes in production from existing oil and natural gas wells to provide estimated changes in oil and natural gas production for seven key regions. EIA’s approach does not distinguish between oil-directed rigs and gas-directed rigs because once a well is completed it may produce both oil and gas; more than half of the wells produce both.
AGDC criticizes Mat-Su Borough for ‘factual and legal errors’
Larry Persily, February 18, 2019
The state’s gas pipeline development corporation and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough continue debating the worthiness of the borough’s Port MacKenzie property for the proposed Alaska LNG project, as the state’s latest filing with federal regulators accuses the borough of “factual and legal errors.” The borough’s most recent comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) “simply nit-pick (erroneously, in many instances) around the edges,” the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) told federal regulators Feb. 13. The corporation has not strayed from its choice of Nikiski on Cook Inlet as the best site for the gas liquefaction plant and export terminal. The borough, however, is contesting the state-led project’s evaluation of Port MacKenzie at the entrance to Knik Arm, across from Anchorage, about 65 air miles northeast of Nikiski.
Alaska’s new governor stays mum on Pebble mine
Dylan Brown, Greenwire, February 18, 2019
Alaska’s new Republican governor, Mike Dunleavy, hasn’t taken a public stance on the proposed Pebble mine, despite his “open for business” approach to the state’s resources. But plenty of people think they already know how he feels: The company behind the project rejoiced after Dunleavy’s election, and many anti-Pebble activists presume he favors the controversial proposed gold and copper mine. “It is clear Gov. Dunleavy has been a proponent of the Pebble project,” United Tribes of Bristol Bay Executive Director Alannah Hurley said.
Our Take: A bit surprised this morning to learn that Bristol Bay Today has hired former Murkowski staffer Kevin Sweeney to lobby against the project.
Glencore to Cut Production at Major Copper, Cobalt Mine
Scott Patterson, The Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2019
Glencore PLC plans to curb production at one of its biggest copper and cobalt mining operations, Mutanda Mining Sarl in Congo, according to people familiar with the matter, potentially taking a sizable portion of two important industrial metals out of circulation.
Our Take: We know an excellent source of domestic copper…