Natural gas, unlike oil, has never been a major strategic preoccupation for U.S. foreign policy. The country was historically a net gas importer, but self-sufficiency was relatively high, and imports came mostly from Canada, raising few geopolitical or energy security concerns. In the 2000s, the United States was worried that it might become reliant on liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, but that moment passed quickly. If the United States ever had a grand strategy vis-à-vis global gas, it could be summarized simply. In Europe, the United States wanted diversity of supply, which meant access to non-Russian gas; and in Asia, it wanted liquidity, meaning a relaxation of rigid contract terms and a move away from oil indexation as the pricing mechanism for LNG.
But the growth in U.S. gas supply, and now exports, has created a new reality. The United States is a major global gas player—by far the largest producer in the world, and quite possibly, in the 2020s, the largest LNG exporter. Yet this change has not produced a new grand strategy. So far, the instinct is to promote U.S. LNG exports—selling gas abroad is the number one priority, especially for the Trump administration. This is a logical place to start, but it is not enough, especially since the push is mostly in the form of advocacy, rather than accompanied by a serious policy agenda or toolkit to support exports or gas consumption. More than ever, the United States needs a new global gas strategy.
Our Take: Nikos Tsafos, a former consultant to the State of Alaska on oil and gas issues, makes a great case for a global gas strategy for the US.
‘Eco-colonialism’: Rift grows between Indigenous leaders and green activists
Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post, January 4, 2018
With flowing long hair, stoic expression and tribal garb, Martin Louie, the hereditary chief of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in north-central British Columbia, more than looked and acted the part of an aggrieved leader in the epic fight against the Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline. He was quoted in the campaign’s news releases, filed complaints to the United Nations and spoke defiantly to investors. Environmental group Stand.earth even described him as the “poster boy” for Indigenous opposition to Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline. The $7-billion pipeline was eventually cancelled last year, but Louie didn’t actually want to sink the project. Lost in the heat of the public battle was that he really just wanted to win more money for his impoverished community than the “ridiculous” $70,000 a year being offered by the company.
Our Take: An oldie but a goodie. A reminder of the “ends justify the means” policy that green activists follow in order to stop resource development – no matter who they hurt.
Wheeler: Trump admin might ‘re-examine’ climate science
Jean Chemnick, E & E Climatewire, May 10, 2019
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler used an overseas gathering of environment ministers this week to hint that the United States might overhaul the way it uses climate data and modeling. Five days after his assertion was included in an official document from the Group of Seven meeting in Metz, France, it remains unclear if Wheeler revealed a potential policy to reexamine climate modeling. It’s become common for the United States to have its own climate and energy paragraph in multilateral statements, and on Monday, Wheeler broke away from the six other nations on issues like the Paris Agreement, providing support for poor and climate-affected countries, and overseas investments in fossil fuels
US State Department announces plans for a diplomatic presence in Greenland
Krestia DeGeorge, Arctic Today, May 9, 2019
The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that it plans to establish a presence in Greenland. The announcement was made as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a planned visit there to return to Washington, D.C. early from a trip that included his participation in the Arctic Council’s biannual ministerial meeting in Finland. It included few details, such as a timeline and whether the presence would be a full-fledged consulate or take some other form. The announcement was quickly welcomed by Greenland, a self-governing nation within the Kingdom of Denmark which has recently expanded its own representations abroad, and now has a diplomatic presence in Washington, Ottawa, Copenhagen, Brussels and Reykjavik. “Greenland is a part of North America. Not only geographically, but also through our ethnicity, culture and language, which we share with Inuit across Alaska and Arctic Canada,” said Minister for Foreign Affairs Ane Lone Bagger in a statement. “However, despite our geographical closeness, cooperation and economic exchange between Greenland and the U.S. could be much more evident.”
New Colorado environmental law stalls oil investment
Laila Kearney, David French, Reuters, May 9, 2019
New environmental regulations in Colorado have chilled investment in the state’s oil and gas fields as companies grapple with how local officials will respond to a law giving them more power to restrict energy production. Colorado now ranks fifths among U.S. states in oil production at about 500,000 barrel per day, up from just 90,000 barrels in 2010. That boom, however, has come just as state politics has shifted to the left with an influx of urbanites who tend to oppose fossil-fuel development.
Our Take: Uncertainty has “nearly halted energy deal activity.” Uncertainty is the enemy of investment and Alaska has, unfortunately, had a history of creating uncertainty for the state’s biggest industry. As the state comes out of a recession and the industry continues to invest, create jobs, pay taxes – a good lesson to remember.
Landmark FERC pipeline challenge fails
Pamela King E & E News, My 9, 2019
An appellate court today tossed a lawsuit targeting a federal plan to significantly narrow climate analyses for natural gas infrastructure. During oral arguments last month, judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seemed skeptical of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s defense of its drastic climate policy shift (Energywire, April 12). But the case failed on the question of whether the plaintiff in the case, the small New York environmental nonprofit Otsego 2000, had standing to bring the challenge. “Otsego’s affidavits do not identify any injury other than the organization’s expenditure of time and money related to this litigation,” the court wrote in a short order today.
Our Take: Victory! Alaska knows all-to-well the damage that outside organizations can do to responsible resource development. Good to see a judge recognizing that the only damage is to the outside organization’s pocketbook! Case. Closed.
Trump: China ‘broke the deal’ in trade talks
CNBC, May 9, 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that China “broke the deal” in the ongoing U.S.-China trade talks. Speaking at a rally in Florida, the president attributed his recent threat of increased tariffs to Beijing’s negotiating position. “By the way, you see the tariffs we’re doing? Because they broke the deal. They broke the deal,” Trump said. “So they’re flying in, the vice premier tomorrow is flying in — good man — but they broke the deal. They can’t do that, so they’ll be paying.”
From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
EXXON TEAMS UP WITH FEDERAL LABS ON CARBON CAPTURE: Exxon Mobil, the biggest private oil company in the world, announced Wednesday one of the largest deals with the Trump administration meant to make low-emission technology a commercial reality in the next decade.
The oil company will invest $100 million over 10 years to advance the technology in collaboration with the two largest federal energy technology labs overseen by the Energy Department: The Colorado-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the West Virginia-based National Energy Technology Lab.
The announcement comes as the company has faced increasing calls by shareholders to be transparent about its greenhouse gas emissions and set carbon pollution reduction targets. It has also faced legal scrutiny by New York’s attorney general over allegations it tried to hide the true cost of climate change.
Interior chief says offshore drilling plan not ‘indefinitely sidelined’
Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill, May 7, 2019
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Tuesday the department will complete development of a five-year offshore drilling plan, despite earlier comments that plan had been put on hold. Responding to questions from Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) in reference to a Wall Street Journal interview in which he said the the plan had been indefinitely sidelined, Bernhardt said the department still has a few more years to complete its plan before a new one is required in 2022. Pingree, who referred to offshore drilling as universally opposed in Maine, pushed Bernhardt to take it completely off the table. The Interior chief assured her that state concerns would be paramount in making a determination. “I’m not aware of a single lease that was ever developed over the opposition of a state,” he said.
The college perspective on climate change
Amy Harder, Axios, May 6, 2019
America’s youngest voters are more worried about climate change, more supportive of big government and more likely to identify as Democrats than older generations. Why it matters: By Election Day 2020, millennials and those in the younger generation known as Gen Z will represent more than a third of eligible voters, according to a recent survey by Harvard University. The poll found that more than 50% of likely voters between 18 and 29 say the government should do more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth.
For the first time ever, an Arctic Council ministerial meeting has ended without a joint declaration
Martin Breum, Arctic Today, May 7, 2019
A meeting of all eight Arctic foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, ended on Tuesday in Rovaniemi, Finland without a joint declaration to signal common ambitions and direction for the work of the Arctic Council for the coming two years. This is the first Arctic Council ministerial meeting to end without such a declaration. Two months of intense negotiations, including last-minute efforts in advance of the Rovaniemi meeting, was not enough to forge consensus between U.S. delegates, Indigenous people’s representatives and delegates from the other seven Arctic states on wording and ambitions on climate change. The presence of the ministers themselves was not enough to soften U.S. opposition to any mention of climate change in the declaration.
Special committee appointed to finalize budget, PFD payout
Steve Quinn, KTVA, May 6, 2019
Negotiations over Alaska’s operating budget now rest in the hands of six lawmakers, three each from the state House and Senate. House Finance Committee co-chairs Reps. Neal Foster, D-Nome, and Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, and committee member Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, represent the House. Senate Finance co-chairs Sens. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka and Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, plus committee member Sen. Donny Olson, D-Bethel, represent the Senate. The committee will hold its first meeting on Tuesday afternoon, but it’s listed as just an organizational hearing. The most significant difference between the two chambers’ budget proposals lies with the Permanent Fund dividend. The House did not include a dividend in its budget, saying it would wait for further discussions with the Senate. The Senate proposed a $3,000 dividend, but it would take another $1.2 billion from either a savings account or the fund’s earnings reserve, which has close to $18 billion.
Our Take: Here we are in the final hours of a heated budget discussion – 6 legislators will be making critical decisions this week. According to recent polling of Alaska Support Industry Alliance members, we believe that a vast majority of business owners in Alaska would prefer a reduced PFD in the ballpark of $1,200-$1,600 coupled with spending cuts in the $300 million range and a spending cap that works. The polling also indicates thousands of Alaskans are okay with a reduced PFD if it means avoiding drastic cuts to state services all in one year. A clear message from the poll? Instability in the business community, created by passing a budget that drastically reduces state services, pays a $3000 dividend and leaves a $1.2 billion hole to fill, could do great harm to Alaska’s economy.
Ex-energy lobbyist tapped to oversee fish, wildlife and parks
Michael Doyle, E&E News, May 3, 2019
The White House today announced an intention to nominate Wyoming resident, former energy company lobbyist and Capitol Hill veteran Robert Wallace to a key position overseeing the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service.
“Without question, Rob is the right person for this job,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “Throughout his long and distinguished career, Rob has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to striking the proper balance between wildlife conservation, habitat management and use of our public land.”
Our take: We wonder if Wallace will stand by the Department’s stance of selection of the most conservative option for the ANWR DEIS.
Russia approves €1 billion LNG transshipment terminal on Kola coast
Atle Staalesen, ArcticToday, May 1, 2019
The Russian federal government intends to spend 70 billion rubles (€965 million) on the construction of a new major Arctic terminal for storage and reloading of LNG. The project investment plan was this week approved by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. It is to stand ready for operations in year 2023.
The government document does not specifically say where in the Kola Peninsula the new terminal is to be built. However, Novatek has earlier made clear that it wants it to be located in Ura Guba, the fjord that houses one of the Northern Fleet’s most important naval bases.
Pompeo announces new sanctions on Iran’s nuclear power complex
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, May 4, 2019
The tightening on sanctions on Iran’s nuclear power complex is meant to curb its ability to refine uranium and mitigate its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Pompeo said Iran would not be able to return to the negotiating table until it ceases all activities related to, or associated with, the construction of a nuclear weapon.
Donlin Gold Looks To Schools, Workforce Development For Future Employees
KYUK, Krysti Shallenberger, May 3, 2019
Donlin is preparing to hire more than 100 people for the final drilling program for its dam safety certification. Those jobs will only last a year, but Donlin also is playing the long game. They help fund scholarships from Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation, which own the surface and mineral rights. Donlin also gives money to the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program or ANSEP.
Our take: Wonderful to hear about companies investing in young Alaskans and helping them build skills. Nothing says “Alaska is open for business” more than training youth for jobs that will keep them in our state and engaged in our economy. We heard about similar community investment policies from Northern Star Resources at our Fairbanks luncheon last week.
From the Daily on Energy:
TRUMP SILENT AS TAINTED RUSSIAN OIL SURGES ACROSS EUROPE: The Trump administration offered little or no response to an oil crisis wreaking havoc across Europe, one that Russia’s state-run oil company admitted was intentionally caused by one of its subsidiaries.
Transneft said last week that one of its local companies contaminated millions of barrels of oil flowing into several European countries from Russia, forcing Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia and other countries to halt imports.
The oil was contaminated with organic elements that would damage refineries in the recipient countries, according to Reuters.
An opportunity for U.S., ignored by the Trump administration: Trump donor and Canary CEO Dan Eberhardt tells John the oil crisis is “a wake-up call” for Europe that it cannot depend on Russian energy supplies, and an opportunity that the U.S. should seize upon.
The Trump administration believes dependence on Russian natural gas makes Europe strategically vulnerable. President Trump wants Europe to diversify its supply by importing more U.S. natural gas.
Eberhardt’s company is one of the largest manufacturers of well components for oil drillers in the United States.
“It could take months to clean up the Druzhba pipeline and dilute all the contaminated oil,” Eberhardt predicts. “In the meantime, refiners in Central and Eastern Europe are going to need to find alternative supplies.”
He says Transneft is a state-owned monopoly, so it will be difficult for Russia to escape the blame for the tainted supply. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last week that the tainted supply woes will cost Russia’s reputation as a dependable supplier.
“EU leaders may not care much for President Trump, but they have to admit that the US is a much better trading partner than Russia — especially when it comes to something as critical to security as oil and gas supplies,” Eberhardt said.
OFF MESSAGE IN SHANGHAI [LNG CONDENSED]
Natural Gas World, May 3, 2019
The bottom line is that LNG’s positive attributes are relative not absolute. They depend critically on the point of application – LNG can be expensive and dirty just as much as it can be green and clean. Gas is the best of the fossil fuels, but equally the least worst. Over-selling a product does not engender trust.
That said, there are solid reasons for industry optimism. The depth of demand for LNG is vast because it runs in parallel with the desire to switch from coal to gas, which is strong for both local and global environmental reasons in Europe, China and increasingly other parts of Asia.
Congress attempts to strengthen Roadless Rule
Alex McCarthy, Juneau Empire, March 2, 2019
Environmentalists in Alaska and throughout the country expressed their elation Thursday as members of Congress introduced legislation to strengthen the 2001 Roadless Rule. The rule, commonly referred to as simply the Roadless Rule, protects almost 60 million acres of National Forest Service land from roadbuilding or development. This includes 7.4 million acres in the Tongass National Forest. Sen. Dan Sullivan told the Empire in March that he’s not in favor of keeping the Roadless Rule in place in its entirety, because access to resources is too limited as it is. In a March opinion piece for the Ketchikan Daily News, Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that she’s in favor of greater access in the Tongass to promote resource development. U.S. Rep. Don Young was quoted in September 2017 that he was in favor of repealing the Roadless Rule.
Our Take: Blanket legislation like this, that doesn’t consider the needs of the people it affects, is rarely good in practice. There’s a reason that the Alaska delegation does not support it—roads are necessary to transport materials in and out of resource development sites. Not to mention the transportation of general goods.
From the Daily on Energy:
AS TRUMP OIL SANCTIONS KICK IN, IRAN VOWS NEVER TO BECOME SAUDI ARABIA: Iran defied the U.S. as oil sanctions kicked in on Thursday, vowing never to become like western ally Saudi Arabia.
Ali Larijani, the Iranian equivalent of House speaker, took to the floor of the parliament in defiance of Washington’s demands that it meet 12 preconditions to see sanctions lifted on its most valuable commodity — oil.
If Iran were to agree to President Trump’s “illogical demands” it would mean the humiliation of the Iranian nation to become treated like Saudi Arabia, Larjani said. “So, we have no option except resistance,” he added, calling on the nation’s economy to attain “self-dependency.”
Meanwhile…Iran asks for Saudi help: At the same time Larjani was railing against the U.S. and insulting Saudi Arabia, Iran’s representative at the United Nations in New York was on the phone to Riyadh, asking the Saudis to help save one of its oil tankers adrift in the Red Sea.
Saudi government news dispatches covered the incident in detail, including how the distress call was conveyed to Saudi Arabia’s border police from the U.N., which is not a common occurrence. Typically, an SOS from the ship’s captain would be enough.
From a press release regarding Senator Murkowski’s Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen America’s Mineral Security:
“Our nation’s mineral security is a significant, urgent, and often ignored challenge. Our reliance on China and other nations for critical minerals costs us jobs, weakens our economic competitiveness, and leaves us at a geopolitical disadvantage,” Murkowski said. “I greatly appreciate the administration’s actions to address this issue, but Congress needs to complement them with legislation. Our bill takes steps that are long overdue to reverse our damaging foreign dependence and position ourselves to compete in growth industries like electric vehicles and energy storage.”
Key provisions of the American Mineral Security Act would:
- Codify the methodology used in Executive Order 13817 to designate a list of critical minerals and require that list to be updated at least every three years;
- Require nationwide resource assessments for every critical mineral;
- Implement several practical, common sense permitting reforms for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Department of Agriculture Forest Service to reduce delays in the federal process;
- Reauthorize the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program for 10 years;
- Authorize research and development for recycling and replacements for critical minerals, as well as chemistry, material science, and applied research and development for processing of critical minerals;
- Require coordination and study of energy needs for remote mining deposits with microgrid research and small generation research programs across the Department of Energy’s applied offices; and
- Require the Secretary of Labor, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation to conduct a study of the nation’s minerals workforce.
House panel votes to stop oil drilling in Arctic refuge
Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill, May 1, 2019
A House panel approved a bill Wednesday that would block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), advancing a key Democratic priority. The bill approved by Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee repeals a controversial provision included in President Trump’s 2017 tax law. The provision opened up the sought-after Alaskan land to oil and gas drilling, prompting backlash from environmentalists who have long used protecting the area as a rallying cry. Republicans have hailed the passage of drilling in ANWR, saying it will significantly bolster economic prosperity and boost the nation’s energy independence.
Our take: The House can try, but as noted “the bill would face significant hurdles in the Republican-lead Senate”. There is currently no way to know if the House will even take it up for a vote.
FWS wants most conservative ANWR option
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce, May 1, 2019
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska officials asked the Bureau of Land Management to select Alternative D-2 from the draft environmental impact statement published in December for leasing areas of the roughly 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain.
Alternative D-2 would open just more than 1 million acres to oil and gas leasing; however, activity on 708,000 of those acres would be restricted by a “no surface activity” designation and another 328,000 acres would be subject to some limitations on type and timing of use to minimize development impacts on wildlife. The D-2 management option would meet the requirements of the tax reform bill while also best preserving the wilderness features prescribed in the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, according to the memo signed by FWS Alaska Director Greg Siekaniec.
For comparison, the least restrictive alternative would open all 1.5 million acres for leasing and just 359,000 acres — mostly along rivers in the refuge and near Kaktovik — would fall under the designation for no surface occupancy.
Natural gas prices down to zero at Waha Hub
Mella McEwen, Midland Reporter-Telegraph, April 29, 2019
“I keep hearing about all these plans to construct new pipelines … but they aren’t here yet,” Graham said. “The Texas Railroad Commission has the authority to … reduce production, thereby reducing flaring of gas. But their website just keeps boasting about record oil production every month.” Graham also offered a warning: “As production continues to increase, so will flaring of natural gas. If the Railroad Commission doesn’t step in with a solution, I’m afraid the EPA will, and none of us will be happy with that.”
China acquires 20 percent stake in Novatek’s Arctic LNG 2 Project
Malte Humpert, ArcticToday, April 30, 2019
Building on the success of that first project, Novatek is thus far sticking with the same project partners. As the company announced, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) each secured a 10 percent share, mirroring closely the 20 percent stake CNPC holds in Yamal LNG. French energy major Total, which holds a 20 percent stake in Yamal LNG, already bought a 10 percent share in Arctic LNG 2 last year. “The agreement is an important milestone in our Arctic LNG 2 project implementation as well as a continuation of our successful cooperation with CNPC,” noted Leonid Mikhelson, Novatek’s Chairman of the Management Board. “Arctic LNG 2 will be a game changer in the global gas market.”
Another key building block in Novatek’s strategy to export Arctic LNG to markets in Europe and Asia will be two transshipment hubs outside ice-covered waters near Murmansk, Russia and on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Far East. Currently, the company employs ship-to-ship transfers of LNG in Norwegian waters near Honningsvåg to reload up to 150 shiploads of LNG. However, Novatek recently made it clear that it does not seek to repeat this type of operation in the future, in part due to challenging weather conditions.
Our Take: Hopefully yesterday’s news of Marathon investing in the LNG plant on the Kenai Peninsula is indicative that Alaska is looking to get into the LNG market.
ConocoPhillips boosts Alaska output by 20% in 1Q
Elwood Brehmer, Journal of Commerce, April 30, 2019
ConocoPhillips continued its run of strong returns to start 2019 with its third consecutive quarterly profit of $1.8 billion as its Alaska oil production increased nearly 20 percent. The Houston-based explorer and producer netted $384 million in the first quarter from its North Slope operations compared to $445 million in 2018, according to its earnings report released April 30. In turn, ConocoPhillips paid $249 million in taxes and royalties to the State of Alaska, according to spokeswoman Natalie Lowman.
Specifically to Alaska, ConocoPhillips produced an average of 210,000 barrels of oil per day in the state, up significantly from an average of 174,000 barrels per day to start 2018, according to the report.
Our take: Among other things, higher production rates mean more money in state coffers. Cheers to ConocoPhillips for showing that Alaska is, indeed, open for business.
Mine opponents ask SEC to investigate Pebble’s parent company
Liz Ruskin, KTOO, April 30, 2019
The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project sent the request on behalf of Earthworks, a mining watchdog. They told the commission that Northern Dynasty Minerals has described a massive deposit to potential investors, while Pebble’s permit application describes a mine barely one-tenth that size. Pebble spokesperson Mike Heatwole said in an email that Pebble has no plans to expand the mine beyond the 20-year development plan the Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating.
What Venezuela’s unrest means for gas prices in America
Thomas Heath, The Washington Post, April 30, 2019
Venezuela’s oil decline “potentially means a lot, especially if you combine it with what [the Trump] administration is up to with respect to Iran sanctions,” said Stephen Brown, an oil consultant with RBJ Strategies. “Regardless of whether you think [Trump’s] sanctions are good or bad,” Brown said, “the impact on global supplies will be significant and, thus, the impact on gasoline prices is going to be significant.” American drivers are feeling the surge at the pump. According to AAA, the national average price for regular gasoline Tuesday was $2.88 a gallon, about 25 cents more than a month ago.
Venezuela once pumped more than 3 million barrels a day and exported more than a third of that. It now produces less than 1 million barrels a day and almost all of that goes to domestic needs, including its 1 cent per gallon gasoline price that helps keep the Maduro regime in power.
Marathon Submitted Application To FERC To Modify LNG Plant
Jennifer Williams, KSRM 920 AM, April 29, 2019
Marathon Petroleum submitted a request, dated on April 12, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting authorization to construct and install modifications to the existing Kenai LNG Plant located in Nikiski. Referred to as ‘Trans-Foreland’ Pipeline Company, who operates under Marathon, is listed on the application. The request submitted to FERC asks to make facility modifications to bring parts of Kenai LNG Plant out of its current warm idle status and add a 1,000 horsepower electric-driven boil-off gas compressor unit.
Our Take: Exciting to see activity surrounding LNG in Kenai!
How Russia contaminated $2.7 billion of oil exports to Europe
Olga Yagova, Gleb Gorodyankin, Dmitry Zhdannikov, Reuters, April 30, 2019
The oil was contaminated with organic chlorides, compounds used in the industry to boost extraction from oilfields by cleaning oil wells and accelerating the flow of crude. Germany and Poland would need to reverse the flow and pump the crude back to Russia, or ports in Poland, as the refineries in those countries lack sufficient storage tanks to keep it until it can be diluted. “This will take months and Russian exports and even production may have to fall,” said Sen at Energy Aspects, adding that European countries might have to tap strategic oil stocks if the outage lasts longer.
What Oil at $100 a Barrel Would Mean for the World Economy
Enda Curran and Michelle Jamrisko, Bloomberg, April 28, 2019
What does it mean for the world’s biggest economy?
While U.S. oil producers try to take advantage of any sales boost from customers moving away from Iran, the broader U.S. economy won’t necessarily see benefits with oil price tags as high as $100 a barrel. It would be a squeeze on American consumers that are the backbone of still-steady economic growth. Prices at the gas pump already have risen more than 7 percent this month to $2.89 a gallon, which could weigh on retail sales that jumped in March by the most since 2017. And if things go awry in global oil markets, there’s risk that political blame shifts back to the U.S. for the sanctions, which could mean backlash via investment or other channels that threatens economic stability.
From the Daily on Energy:
REPUBLICAN CLIMATE COMMITTEE HIRES FORMER TRUMP ENERGY ADVISER: Republicans of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis announced Wednesday they hired [George David] Banks as the panel’s chief strategist.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., the climate committee’s ranking member, also announced the hire of Marty Hall to serve as Republican staff director.
Banks and Hall both worked on climate and energy issues in the George W. Bush administration. Hall currently works for the ClearPath Foundation, a conservative group that advocates for clean energy technology.
But the selection of Banks really caught our eye: The hiring of Banks is telling for how Republicans could approach the committee, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created to bring more attention to climate change ahead of the 2020 election.
Banks was a moderate Republican voice in the Trump administration who unsuccessfully lobbied to remain in the Paris climate agreement, promoting a compromise in which the president would commit to less stringent emissions reductions targets than the Obama administration proposed.
Banks has also encouraged Republicans to cooperate with the Green New Deal. He told Josh recently: “There are components of the Green New Deal I would support in principle. The majority of their climate policy reflects a centrist position.”Banks, however, offered a more conservative statement upon being hired for the select climate committee, emphasizing “promoting policies that help preserve a role for all fossil fuels.”
Our take: Banks spoke at our 2019 Meet Alaska trade show and we are pleased to see him take a role that embraces the role that fossil fuels play in the greater climate change conversation.
O’Rourke might halt new oil and gas drilling on federal land
Scott Sonner, AP News, April 25, 2019
The Democratic presidential hopeful told reporters while campaigning in Nevada on Thursday that the nation needs to rethink how it protects its public lands and “keep them from being diminished in size as has happened under” the Trump administration. O’Rourke said that concern, combined with the need to reduce total greenhouse emissions, makes it especially important that U.S. taxpayers don’t allow oil and gas companies “to contribute more to the problem.”
From Daily on Energy, April 29, 2019
BETO O’ROURKE RELEASES $5T PLAN TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE: 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke released a plan Monday to combat climate change, vowing to mobilize $5 trillion in spending over 10 years to address what he called “the greatest threat we face.”
His plan calls for $1.5 trillion in “fully paid for” government spending to mobilize a total of $5 trillion in funding over a decade, to be spent on infrastructure, tax incentives, clean energy research and development, housing and transportation grants in low-income communities, and mitigation measures to help communities prepare for extreme weather events.
To help pay for it, O’Rourke says he would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy, while ending “tens of billions” of dollars in tax breaks for fossil fuel companies.
Oil Prices Retreat Further From Six-Month High
Dan Molinski, The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2019
Oil prices fell further Monday as investors continued to book profits after prices hit a six-month high last week and President Trump urged OPEC to boost production to lower oil and fuel prices.
President Trump said his call for OPEC to boost oil production was aimed at reducing U.S. retail gasoline prices, which now stand at $2.88 a gallon, 19 cents higher from a month ago and 8 cents higher from a year ago, according to price-tracking firm GasBuddy. “The national average has resumed its upward climb in the last week with average gas prices rising in nearly all states yet again,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “This spring certainly has brought furious price increases at faster paces than we’ve seen in past years.”
U.S. wildlife regulator slams Trump’s Arctic refuge drilling study
Valerie Volcovici, ArcticToday, April 29, 2019
The Fish and Wildlife Service said the ANWR Coastal Plain draft environmental impact study (EIS) failed to include oil spill response plans, analyze the effects of climate change on the Arctic, or ensure that surveys of polar bear denning habitats are required.
“BLM has an obligation to consider all of these comments — including those from its sister agency (Fish and Wildlife) — and anticipates they will inform the Final EIS in multiple ways,” spokeswoman Molly Block said in an email.
Department of Defense awards deal for new polar icebreaker
Associated Press, April 27, 2019
The U.S. Department of Defense announced Tuesday that it has awarded a Mississippi-based shipbuilder a roughly $745.9 million contract to construct a Polar Security Cutter to bolster the defense’s Arctic presence. The department announced that VT Halter Marine Inc. will construct one of three ships intended to revitalize the U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet of heavy icebreakers, KTVA-TV reported on Friday.