Brent crude oil spikes the most in history after Saudi attacks, last up 14%
Yun Li, CNBC, September 16, 2019
Oil prices soared after a coordinated attack hit the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Saturday, forcing the kingdom to cut its oil output in half. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark, rose as much as 19.5% to $71.95 per barrel at the open, the biggest intraday jump on record. By early afternoon, the contract was at $68.89, up $8.67 or 14.38%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures climbed as much as 15.5% to $63.34. The contract was later at $62.79, up $7.95 or 14.49%. An oil processing facility at Abqaiq and the nearby Khurais oil field was attacked on Saturday, knocking out 5.7 million barrels of daily crude production or 50% of the kingdom’s oil output. Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, reportedly aims to restore about a third of its crude output, or 2 million barrels by Monday. However, Bloomberg News reported it could take weeks before Aramco restores the majority of its output at Abqaiq.
Attack on Saudi Arabia’s Oil facilities
Wood Mackenzie, September 16, 2019
Following reports on drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities yesterday, Wood Mackenzie VP for refining, chemicals and oil markets, Alan Gelder said:
“This attack has material implications for the oil market, as a loss of 5 million barrels per day of supplies from Saudi Arabia cannot be met for long by existing inventories and the limited spare capacity of the other OPEC+ group members. A geopolitical risk premium will return to the oil price.”
Tuesday, September 17, 2019:
President Obama “Natural gas isn’t just appearing magically. We’re encouraging it and working with the industry.” Great words from President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Hillary Clinton on the need for natural gas. Click to watch.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
DEMOCRATS SPARED TRICKY QUESTIONS ON FOSSIL FUELS AT NATION’S OIL AND GAS CAPITAL: The top 10 candidates at Thursday’s third Democratic debate escaped questions on divisive proposals, such as plans for banning fracking and ending the use of fossil fuels — a weird oversight by the moderators considering the debate’s location in Houston, the oil and gas capital of the U.S.
‘We’re On It’ – Industry Committed to Emissions Reductions
Sam Winstel, Energy Tomorrow Blog , September 10, 2019
With global demand for energy on the rise – expected to increase more than 25% by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) – the U.S. natural gas and oil industry is focused on delivering affordable and reliable energy to consumers, while simultaneously shrinking our environmental footprint. Cleaner-burning natural gas is at the leading edge of climate progress, as the fuel has been largely responsible for reducing U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to their lowest levels in a generation. Combustion of natural gas emits one-half the carbon compared to coal and, as a result, switching from coal to natural gas in electricity generation has saved about 500 million tons of carbon dioxide since 2010, per IEA. A big part of this is natural gas’ competitiveness in the marketplace. The abundant, low-cost fuel has driven emissions savings and helped domestic consumers meet their bottom lines, especially those with low- or fixed-incomes. Meanwhile, American liquified natural gas (LNG) exports are shifting the economics of power generation abroad. It’s with consumer interest in mind that the industry is investing in innovative technologies and developing state-of-the-art approaches to natural gas production and distribution, which has placed downward pressure on energy costs and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide worldwide.
Unlocking Arctic Energy Is Vital for Alaska—and America
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan, Representative Don Young, Wall Street Journal, 9/12/19
This week the House of Representatives is set to consider measures that would restrict America’s future energy supply, including one that would block responsible development in northeast Alaska. As the state’s congressional delegation, we are unified in strong opposition and believe passage would be a reckless strategic mistake. The bill in question comes from a California representative and targets the non-wilderness 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which Congress set aside in 1980 for future exploration. After years of debate, Congress agreed in 2017 to allow careful development of just 2,000 acres of the 1.5-million-acre area, itself located within the ANWR’s 19.3 million acres. This developable fraction of a fraction amounts to one ten-thousandth of the refuge. We believe, in fairness to Alaskans, that the leasing program should proceed responsibly, with Congress and the Trump administration ensuring that lands and wildlife are cared for. All of us are working to put the proper guidelines in place. Yet some in Congress still remain eager to repeal the provision, based on misperceptions about what is at stake and what most Alaskans want.
Our Take: “For the record, the House bill should go nowhere – just like the ANWR wilderness bill introduced in the Senate yesterday. Both bills would break longstanding federal promises made to Alaskans and are opposed by solid majorities in the state. Both also treat Alaska as if it is a snow globe, rather than a state where good people live, work, and have a decades-long record of balancing economic development with environmental stewardship.”
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
EPA’S WOTUS REPEAL IS HERE: The Trump administration will formally repeal the Obama administration’s clean water rule — known as the Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS — Thursday afternoon.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James will announce the final rule during an event at the National Association of Manufacturers headquarters in Washington.
The manufacturers group has been a strong industry voice urging the rollback of the Obama-era WOTUS rule, which defined what bodies of water are covered under Clean Water Act protections. That 2015 rule became one of Republicans, industry, and farming group’s favorite examples in claiming regulatory overreach by the Obama EPA.
The EPA will, in a second regulatory step, replace the WOTUS rule with its own definition. The agency’s December proposal would limit the amount of protected water bodies, including by excluding ephemeral streams, most ditches, and many wetlands.
But environmentalists say the repeal and replacement of WOTUS will undercut water quality safeguards that keep Americans’ tap water clean and protect habitats.
Our Take: A huge victory for responsible resource development!! NGO’s who claim the repeal will do damage are just plain wrong.
Today, Ranking Republican of House Natural Resources Committee Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) released the following statements on the introduction of the American Energy First Act, which will overhaul federal lands energy policy. The legislation is a truly all-of-the-above approach to American energy development, encouraging the efficient onshore and offshore production of both conventional and renewable energy resources. Federal regulations have burdened energy development on federal lands and waters for far too long, and this legislation aims to put American Energy First and ensure economic growth and domestic energy security for decades to come.
“As we endeavor to secure American energy independence, we must responsibly avail ourselves of the resources required. The American Energy First Act creates a comprehensive structure with which we can lessen our energy dependence on our would-be adversaries. The sustained expansion of American energy resources will stimulate job growth, boost our economy, and most importantly, mitigate the vulnerabilities that come from our reliance on foreign energy sources.
Our Take: We appreciate the practical approach to developing our energy resources that focuses on providing American families with affordable energy.
The Era of the Gas Mega-Players
Nikos Tsafos, Center for Strategic and International Studies, September 20, 2019
Within 10 years, three exporters will tower over the global gas world: Russia, the United States, and Qatar. Other exporters—Norway, Australia, Canada—will remain big players, but their influence will be regional, not global. New entrants will emerge, and existing players will expand their presence, but no country will match the big three in scale, growth, and reach. China will meanwhile become the largest destination for gas, surpassing Japan in imports and closing in on Europe as a whole. These profound changes will rewire the gas system, making it more integrated and competitive. But the system may also allow these mega-players the opportunity to exercise market power, using levers at their disposal to influence prices and flows. Geopolitics might also weigh heavily as a possible driver of behavior or source of friction. The gas world will thus be pulled in three directions: more integration and competition, more efforts to exercise market power, and more geopolitics complementing and complicating market forces. The big question is which of these three competing forces will have a greater say in this new gas era.
Our Take: Great to see the United States on the list of mega-players!! “In short, the global gas market will be pulled in three different directions over the next decade: the emergence of three globally important players—Russia, Qatar, and the United States—will force more interconnectedness and intensify competition, while China will become a key battleground where pipeline gas and LNG meet”
OPEC cuts 2020 oil demand forecast, urges effort to avert new glut
Alex Lawler, Reuters, September 11, 2019
OPEC on Wednesday cut its forecast for growth in world oil demand in 2020 due to an economic slowdown, an outlook the producer group said highlighted the need for ongoing efforts to prevent a new glut of crude. In a monthly report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said oil demand worldwide would expand by 1.08 million barrels per day, 60,000 bpd less than previously estimated, and indicated the market would be in surplus. The weaker outlook amid a U.S.-China trade war and Brexit could press the case for OPEC and its allies to maintain or adjust their policy of cutting output. Iraq said ministers would on Thursday discuss whether deeper cuts were needed.
Lawmakers and Native corporation tell potential Pebble investor that Dunleavy misrepresented Alaska opposition
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News, September 9, 2019
Sixteen Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, signed the letter dated Monday. Two Republicans and two independents, including House Speaker Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham, an independent, also signed it.
It was sent Monday to Randy Smallwood, Wheaton president, said Austin Baird, a spokesman with the Alaska House Majority.
The lawmakers said the governor’s July 30 letter to Smallwood “misrepresents the ease with which the state might permit the proposed Pebble Mine, and the reception it is likely to receive from those living in the region.”
Alaskans will “vigorously” defend the Bristol Bay region’s fisheries, the legislators said. The lawmakers refuse to jeopardize that “sustainable” resource for an “economically dubious project,” they said.
Dunleavy, who has not stated a position on Pebble, told Smallwood in his letter that the state would stand by his company’s potential investment to help Pebble complete the permitting phase. The governor said he was standing up for a fair permitting process, without interference from project opponents.
Our take: “…standing up for a fair permitting process.” Minerals mining supports more than 1.1 million jobs in the U.S. Last year, minerals mining produced raw materials worth $82.2 billion. Mining creates jobs with an average salary of $94,000. In this particular instance we will advocate for markets AND mandates.
Fracking Is the Bridge to Renewable Energy
Noah Smith, Bloomberg, September 9, 2019
Senator Bernie Sanders is leading the charge for a national moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the process of extracting oil or gas by cracking open subterranean rock. Unfortunately, such a ban would make another of his goals – switching to green energy – harder to achieve.
Why? Because switching to renewable energy requires a lot of energy. Solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and electric cars must be manufactured in huge quantities. Buildings must be retrofitted with new electrical wiring and energy efficiency technologies. Millions of vehicles will have to transport workers and materials to houses and power plants to install the technologies. Smart power grids and storage facilities will be needed to overcome the intermittency of wind and solar.
All of this will take huge amounts of energy — electricity and vehicle fuel. Where will it come from? Currently, renewable sources account for only 11% of U.S. primary energy consumption. Electric vehicles may be gaining market share, but they still comprise less than 1% of the country’s fleet. You can’t use solar and wind to build the generation capacity for more solar and wind until you have a lot of it. The U.S. simply isn’t there yet — it doesn’t have enough green energy to power the transition.
Instead, if fracking is banned immediately, the U.S. will probably go back to using coal and imported oil (Sanders has also proposed banning the other option, nuclear power). This will mean much greater carbon emission and deadly air pollution from coal. It will also would push up global oil prices, generating big windfalls for leaders like Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Bin Salman.
Our take: “Banning fossil fuels outright, as some on the left might suggest, would only make things worse. Eliminating the source of 83% of the country’s electricity generation and more than 99% of its vehicle power would quickly reduce the U.S. to pre-industrial living standards.” That 83% means you can turn on the lights in your house, receive emergency medical care, watch “Orange is the New Black” and cook your family dinner. Pretending there’s a magical switch to turn off fracking and fossil fuel energy generation is more than just pie in the sky; it’s genuine folly.
Oil up 1.5% on expectations of extended OPEC output cuts
Laila Kearney, Rueters, September 9, 2019
Oil futures climbed to the highest in almost six weeks on Tuesday on expectations the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will agree to extend crude output cuts to support prices.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s new energy minister and a longtime member of the Saudi delegation to OPEC, said the kingdom’s policy would not change and a global deal to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day would be maintained.
He added that the so-called OPEC+ alliance, which includes non-OPEC producers such as Russia, would be in place for the long term.
“The oil markets have been rallying as the Saudis have appointed a new oil minister who has committed to maintain the existing policy to get the market in balance and ultimately see higher prices,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
From the Daily on Energy:
HOUSE PASSES BILLS TO BOOST ENERGY EFFICIENCY, ADVANCED NUCLEAR: The House passed four bipartisan energy bills Monday, including measures to improve energy efficiency and advanced nuclear power.
The Energy Efficient Government Technology Act, which passed 384-23, would encourage the adoption of energy-efficient information technologies across the federal government. The Advanced Nuclear Fuel Availability Act, approved by voice vote, creates an interim supply of advanced nuclear fuel for new reactors and requires the Department of Energy to establish a program to develop high-assay low-enriched uranium.
There are dozens of advanced nuclear designs under development in the U.S., most of which can run only on high-assay low-enriched uranium despite there being a limit domestic supply of the fuel.
The other House-passed bills would reauthorize an incentive program decreasing emissions from diesel engines, and a measure providing funding to states to boost the physical and cyber security of fuel and electric infrastructure.
Alaska’s mining industry breathes new life into our communities
Chuck Kopp, Anchorage Daily News, September 7, 2019
Alaska’s mining industry employs Alaskans, whose concerns and burdens for the environment and a better life are the same as our own. Our mining industry routinely works with their neighbors to help alleviate suffering and improve the lives of their region.
I think it is fair to say most Alaskans want a well-regulated mining industry to flourish in our state, and desire to encourage more of this type of investment. But it will be necessary to stop the polarization and divisiveness that comes from caustic rhetoric, inaccurate information, and a false dichotomy that says its either mining jobs and infrastructure or protection of the environment. Our modern-day mines in Alaska have repeatedly shown that both needs can be well accommodated. The future of our state depends on the effort of multiple industries and entrepreneurs working together to move us forward into a more secure future.
Our take: While we appreciate the sentiments expressed, actions speak louder than words. And when “pro-resource development” Republicans voted Brice Edgemon in as speaker and Geran Tarr as cochair of Resources, they killed every opportunity we had to pass legislation that would enhance opportunities for mining. Here’s looking at you SB 51…
Why Alaska’s Arctic is so important to a Papua New Guinea oil company
Sonali Paul, Arctic Today, September 9, 2019
In Alaska, Oil Search has spent $850 million buying a 51 percent stake in the Pikka prospect on the assumption it holds 500 million barrels of recoverable oil.
With Spain’s Repsol, it aims to produce 30,000 barrels a day of oil by as early as 2022 to start generating cash, then ramp up to 120,000 bpd in 2024.
Beefing up its small staff in Alaska, the company has hired a Trump administration official — Joe Balash, who oversaw oil and gas drilling on U.S. federal lands — as its external affairs head.
It is hoping to prove up reserves closer to 750 million barrels over the next six months, find more oil around its Nanushuk field and sell part of its stake to help fund the project.
Our take: While we are hopeful for Oil Search to start producing, we know the hurdles that come with the job. ‘“Alaska as a region is quite prone to delays,” said Wood Mackenzie analyst Rowena Gunn. “It’s very, very high cost, it’s a remote, tough environment to work in, and there’s a lot of environmental regulations.”’ She said it first.
Canada LNG among big oil projects deemed economically unviable under Paris climate pact by study
Ron Bousso, Financial Post, September 5, 2019
Major oil companies have approved US$50 billion of projects since last year that will not be economically viable if governments implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, think-tank Carbon Tracker said in a report published on Friday.
The analysis found that investment plans by Royal Dutch Shell, BP and ExxonMobil among other companies will not be compatible with the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Previous reports on the implications of climate change for oil and gas companies by Carbon Tracker and other researchers have contributed to a wave of investor pressure on majors to show that their investments are aligned with the Paris goals.
While some companies including Shell, BP, Total and Equinor have increased spending on renewable energy and introduced carbon reduction targets, the sector says it needs to continue investing in new projects to meet future demand for oil and gas as Asian economies expand.
Editorial Note: Read our Lips: No New Taxes! In case there was any confusion with yesterday’s editorial about “getting our fair share,” The Alliance remains opposed to any new taxes on the oil & gas industry. We repeat: “This proposed ballot initiative is the epitome of instability and needs to be defeated.”
Dunleavy asks federal council to fast-track Southeast rare earths prospect
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce, September 4, 2019
Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy wants federal decision makers to approve a fast-tracked permitting plan for one of Alaska’s prime metal prospects. The governor sent a letter to federal Council on Environmental Quality Chair Mary Neumayr Aug. 9 urging the council to classify the Bokan Mountain rare earth metals prospect as a High Priority Infrastructure Project. The “High Priority” designation would provide the Bokan project proponents, Nova Scotia-based Ucore Rare Metals Inc., an expedited federal environmental impact statement process aimed at ultimately accelerating development of a mine. The Bokan Mountain rare earth underground mine prospect near tidewater on southern Prince of Wales Island holds more than 4.7 million metric tons of indicated rare earth ore, according to a 2015 resource assessment by. That translates to approximately 63.5 million pounds of collective rare earth metals, which are used in a plethora of high-tech applications, from smartphones to advanced batteries and fighter jets.
Our Take: “it’s a significant concern for many federal officials and policymakers because China is still the primary source for rare earths globally and the Chinese government — already engaged in a tense trade dispute with the U.S. — could restrict the flow of these critical metals.” Enough said.
U.S. shale firms cut budgets, staff as oil-price outlook dims
Jennifer Hiller, Liz Hampton, Reuters, September 6, 2019
Oil producers and their suppliers are cutting budgets, staffs and production goals amid a growing consensus of forecasts that oil and gas prices will stay low for several years. The U.S. has 904 working rigs, down 14% from a year ago, and even that is probably too many, estimated Harold Hamm, chief executive of shale producer Continental Resources (CLR.N), which has reduced the number of rigs at work. Bankruptcy filings by U.S. energy producers through mid-August this year have nearly matched the total for the whole of 2018. A stock index of oil and gas producers hit an all-time low in August, a sign investors are expecting more trouble ahead.
Dems to push for offshore drilling ban when Congress reconvenes
Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill, September 5, 2019
Democrats have listed putting an end to offshore drilling as a top priority once Congress returns next week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the chamber would consider blocking offshore drilling in almost all waters surrounding the U.S. when Congress reconvenes next week after the August recess. “The House will take up three bills that will block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. These bills will help protect our environment and the economies of coastal communities that rely on tourism, outdoor recreation, and fishing,” Hoyer wrote in a letter.
Our Take: DOA in the Senate. Ignores the reality that the majority of Alaskans support responsible development in ANWR. Waste of time.
Top Interior official who pushed to expand drilling in Alaska to join oil company there
Juliet Eilperin & Steve Mufson, The Washington Post, September 4, 2019
Last summer, Scott Pruitt left his job heading the Environmental Protection Agency and within a few months had started consulting for coal magnate Joseph W. Craft III. Three weeks after leaving the Interior Department, energy counselor Vincent DeVito joined Cox Oil Offshore, which operates in the Gulf of Mexico, as its executive vice president and general counsel. Now, Joe Balash — who oversaw oil and gas drilling on federal lands before resigning from Interior on Friday — is joining a foreign oil company that is expanding operations on Alaska’s North Slope. Balash, who had served as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management for nearly two years, confirmed in a phone interview Tuesday night that he will begin working for the Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search, which is developing one of Alaska’s largest oil prospects in years.
Our Take: Great news for Oil Search and for Alaska!
California raises the caution flag on ‘green jobs’
Debra Kahn, Politico, September 4, 2019
California’s mixed record of using public investments and environmental mandates to create “green jobs” raises serious questions about the promises of some Democratic presidential candidates to use economy-transforming investments in environmentally friendly technologies to put millions of people to work. Many of the initiatives touted by the candidates in their environmental plans are already in place in California, and some of them having been promoted as important engines of job creation. But California stopped counting green jobs in 2013, struggling to separate truly new jobs from existing employment growth.
Our Take: Markets, not mandates. Be wary of promises made…
US blacklists oil shipping network allegedly run by Iran Revolutionary Guards
Reuters, September 4, 2019
- The sprawling network of firms, ships and individuals allegedly directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps supplied Syria with oil worth tens of millions of dollars in a breach of U.S. sanctions.
- The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control action froze any assets in the United States of the designated entities.
- The department said that the Qods Force and Hezbollah profited financially by supplying Iranian oil and petroleum products that this spring alone were worth more than $750 million.
Hilcorp sale will cost state $30 million annually in lost revenue, former tax officials say
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, August 28, 2019
Two former directors of Alaska’s tax division and a former state legislator say a gap in Alaska’s corporate income tax system could cost the state millions in lost revenue once a new multibillion-dollar deal between Hilcorp and BP is finalized. The loss could be more than $30 million per year, said Ken Alper, director of the state’s tax division under former Gov. Bill Walker. Alper’s estimate of a $30 million annual loss is based upon information released Tuesday by BP, which said it currently produces 75,000 barrels of oil per day, or about 15% of North Slope production. The share of the state’s corporate income tax levied on oil producers is forecast by the Alaska Department of Revenue to generate $210 million in the fiscal year that started July 1. Fifteen percent of $210 million is $31.5 million. Dickinson said that estimate makes sense but cautioned that “there’s a lot of volatility there” when it comes to income tax revenue. In the state’s 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, tax revenue was negative; by 2018, it was above $65 million per year.
Our Take: The difference between “will” as stated in the headline and “could” as stated by those interviewed is HUGE. Also missing from this story? Any discussion about the potential for MORE production tax revenue for the state. Hilcorp’s specialty is getting more from aging fields.
Here’s a question you should ask about every climate change plan
Bill Gates, Gates Notes, August 27, 2019
I get to learn about lots of different plans for dealing with climate change. It’s part of my job—climate change is the focus of my work with the investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures—but it’s just as likely to come up over dinner with friends or at a backyard barbecue. (In Seattle, we get outside as often as we can during the summer, since we know how often it’ll be raining once fall comes.) Whenever I hear an idea for what we can do to keep global warming in check—whether it’s over a conference table or a cheeseburger—I always ask this question: “What’s your plan for steel?” I know it sounds like an odd thing to say, but it opens the door to an important subject that deserves a lot more attention in any conversation about climate change. Making steel and other materials—such as cement, plastic, glass, aluminum, and paper—is the third biggest contributor of greenhouse gases, behind agriculture and making electricity. It’s responsible for a fifth of all emissions. And these emissions will be some of the hardest to get rid of these materials are everywhere in our lives, and we don’t yet have any proven breakthroughs that will give us affordable zero-carbon versions of them. If we’re going to get to zero carbon emissions overall, we have a lot of inventing to do.
Don’t be so quick to write off natural gas
William F. Shugart, II, Washington Examiner, August 28th, 2019
Earlier this month, as temperatures topped 100 degrees and homeowners and businesses cranked up their air conditioning, Texas’ grid struggled to cope with the record demand for electricity. The heat wave was compounded by a loss of power from thousands of wind turbines that couldn’t function on days when not so much as a breeze was blowing. Predictably, energy costs skyrocketed in the Lone Star State. In Houston, as peak electricity demand climbed to record levels, wholesale power prices spiked virtually overnight by an astounding 49,000% (to $9,000 per megawatt-hour). The operator of the electric grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), warned that reserve margins were so dangerously low that it might have to institute rolling blackouts. ERCOT called for the construction of more gas-powered generating plants. Yet, a number of states, most notably California, want to push natural gas out of the picture, putting residents on a collision course with reality. No one should think that the days of burning natural gas for electricity production are numbered, or that gas has been overtaken by solar and wind. America’s vast gas reserves and the development of combined-cycle power plants, using gas and a steam turbine to generate 50% more electricity than traditional gas plants, together with advanced designs and better efficiency will keep natural gas in the energy picture for decades to come.
Our Take: California, slow your roll to ban natural gas…
The BP Sale To Hilcorp Looks Like A Win For Everyone
David Blackmon, Forbes, August 28, 2019
In a deal that will no doubt be characterized as surprising by some, but really should come as no surprise to anyone, BP announced on Tuesday that it has agreed to sell all of its remaining Alaskan operations to Houston-based independent producer Hilcorp. The deal, worth $5.6 billion, will result in BP’s exit from the state of Alaska after 60 continuous years of operations there. The deal will make Hilcorp the second-largest producer in Alaska behind ConocoPhillips and includes all of BP’s Prudhoe Bay assets as well as its midstream assets in the state. Attaining the status of a major player in a state is nothing new for Hilcorp, which already ranked as the nation’s largest privately held upstream company and the operator of more wells than any other company in the lower 48 states.
Reactions to the sale:
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
BP’S ALASKA EXIT NOT A GOOD SIGN FOR ANWR DRILLING: BP’s exit from producing oil and gas in Alaska should dampen expectations for the level of industry interest in drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
At least that’s the argument some Democrats were making in reaction to BP selling all of its Alaska assets to privately held Hilcorp Energy for $5.6 billion after the British oil giant had operated for 60 years in the state.
“If BP thought it could have squeezed a nickel out of drilling in the Arctic Refuge, it wouldn’t have hesitated to annihilate it,” Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts tweeted Tuesday. “Their exit is further evidence that there is absolutely no reason to turn the Refuge over to the oil and gas industry. All risk, no reward.”
ANWR lease sale is coming soon: Republicans are closer than ever to achieving their goal of drilling in the long-off limits Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, known as ANWR, after Congress as part of the GOP tax cut bill of 2017 voted to allow energy exploration in a 1.5 million-acre section of the refuge, known as the “1002 area,” where billions of barrels of oil are believed to lie beneath the coastal plain.
However, it has been an open question on how interested energy companies would be in the opportunity, with oil prices hovering at low levels in the mid- $50s per barrel and competition steep from in the nation’s lower 48 shale regions.
“ANWR could be a big find, and big finds imply fat margins, but this is not a time of oil scarcity,” Kevin Book, managing director for research at ClearView Energy, told me. “Companies may not want to tie up capital on 10-year megaprojects if there’s a faster cash turn waiting onshore. Plus, nobody wants to drill the next multi-billion-dollar duster at $55 per barrel.”
The Interior Department is expected any day to release an environmental impact statement assessing the risks of drilling in ANWR, a necessary step before the agency conducts a lease sale, which the Trump administration is planning for this year.
Any actual drilling wouldn’t happen for 10 to 15 years. But Democrats and environmental groups have accused the Trump administration of rushing the environmental review and leasing process before the 2020 election, when a Democrat could win the White House and block the planned sales.
Will industry come? The level of interest won’t be known until the lease sale happens, and it’s unclear if BP would have participated, industry allies are quick to point out.
“Shut up and let the sale happen,” said Robert Dillon, an energy consultant and former senior staffer for Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who led the push in Congress for opening ANWR to drilling. “If nobody shows up you’ve got your answer.”
BP was part of a group of big oil companies that helped drill an exploratory well in ANWR in the mid-1980s, the only well ever drilled in the refuge.
Alaska oil production trends: BP’s exit from Alaska more broadly shows the trend of declining production in the frontier oil producing state, and how major companies are moving on to chase opportunities in shale.
Oil production in Alaska has fallen from more than 2 million barrels per day in 1988 — more than any other state — to 464 barrels per day in 2018, according to the Department of Energy, an amount less than four shale producing states.
“This will not be the last deal in the region,” Wood Mackenzie analyst Rowena Gunn said in a note to reporters Tuesday. “ExxonMobil may be next to follow BP, Anadarko, Pioneer and Marathon in the list of companies having sold out of Alaska.”
David Hayes, a former deputy secretary of the Clinton administration’s Interior Department, told me BP’s exit is “consistent with two realities” of oil exploration and production in the Alaskan Arctic.
Oil and gas operating costs in the Alaskan Arctic are higher than in other fossil fuel producing areas in the U.S., and many of the current oil fields in Alaska are becoming mature.
Expanding opportunities into long-protected and remote areas like ANWR could be a risky bet given those realities, and the added scrutiny major companies are facing over their contribution to climate change.
“I suspect that both of these factors played into BP’s thinking,” said Hayes, who now the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at New York University School of Law.
Jumping the gun? Alaska-based industry groups, however, say it would be wrong to interpret BP’s move out of the state as a bad sign for ANWR.
Rebecca Logan, executive director of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, told me it’s not surprising to see smaller companies like Hilcorp take over the aging oil fields in the state, because they are more willing to invest in drilling for oil that is harder to get.
“It’s shocking to people to have a company that’s been here for 60 years leave,” Logan said. “But it’s a leap to say what this means for ANWR. The lease sale will show us the level of interest. Regardless of sales and acquisitions, companies will make that decision based on other factors.”