From the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:
COULD SAUDI TENSIONS MEAN OUT-OF-CONTROL OIL PRICES FOR US? Oil prices could spike even higher than they already have this week as tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran increased Friday, prompting analysts to brace for havoc in the oil markets. A growing number of analysts, including some who support President Trump, are predicting higher oil prices in the coming year. The international benchmark for oil prices rose to its highest level in months this week after a Saudi-led purge of its own government officials and major businessmen drove speculation of supply problems from the country with the largest oil reserves in the world. Trouble in Lebanon, with its prime minister resigning suddenly and seeking refuge in the oil kingdom, increased uncertainty in the region because of Lebanon’s role as a safe haven for Iranian-backed Hezbollah. And the Saudis blamed Iran for a missile fired from Yemen to Saudi Arabia. That led to saber rattling between Saudi and Iran on Friday, and speculation began to increase about the possibility of war and what that could mean for oil prices if Saudi crude were suddenly cut off completely. “One out of nine barrels in the world is produced out of Saudi Arabia, so whatever happens in Saudi Arabia is really a revolution or turmoil for the world of oil,” Paolo Scaroni, former CEO of Italian oil giant Eni and vice-chairman of NM Rothschild and Sons, told Bloomberg Television Friday. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is engaged in a protracted plan to push up oil prices in response to the over-supplied market that forced prices to plummet and slashed the budgets of many OPEC countries. Saudi Arabia is leading OPEC and non-OPEC countries in a push to curtail production so that prices rise. “Stripping away the nonsense in Saudi, I think supply and demand are legitimately crossing and we’re headed for higher prices,” said oil executive and Trump supporter Dan Eberhart in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “I think the Saudi purge has thrown a bucket of gas on top of an already raging fire. I think the price is going to move upward.”
Locals at the table for Pebble Project. Next month, the Pebble Partnership plans to file for permits to build a gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay region. The company says it’s a much smaller one than originally planned, one they think should be more acceptable to the communities in the area. In May, the company formed an Advisory Committee to get feedback on a variety of issues. One of its founding members was one of its loudest critics. However, Kimberly Williams resigned after just a few weeks, after she says she lost her job at Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of village corporations and tribal councils, and under pressure from the Bristol Bay Native Association, where she is a board member. Her replacement is AlexAnna Salmon from Igiugig, a small community just 50 miles from the proposed mine. Igiugig sits at the mouth of Lake Iliamna and the Kvichak River, a very isolated place. AlexAnna considers it her job to protect that “unglu,” or nest in Yup’ik. That’s why she says it was important for her to join the Advisory Committee, especially after she found out there was only one other person on the board from the Bristol Bay area. “Immediately my first thought was we really need locals at the table for this project,” Salmon says. Salmon says she’s simply there to learn, and claims the company doesn’t care what she thinks. “Their science is shaped in a way that they will prove that development and salmon can co-exist,” Salmon says.
Majority vote for ANWR. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) unveiled legislation Wednesday that would, for the first time, open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil and natural gas drilling. The legislation would require only a 51-vote majority in the Senate, instead of the usual 60 votes, because it is written under the auspices of Congress’s 2018 budget resolution The proposal opens a significant new step in the decades-old debate around ANWR drilling, which has energized and mobilized generations of environmentalists while serving as a perennially tempting development opportunity for the oil industry and Alaskans. Murkowski estimates that the drilling on the federally owned land would bring the government at least $1 billion over the next 10 years, thus fulfilling the budget’s requirement for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which Murkowski chairs. “Our instruction is a tremendous opportunity both for our committee and our country,” said Murkowski, who has introduced some form of ANWR drilling legislation in each session of Congress since becoming a senator in 2002.
Never cry wolf. You have to forgive Alaskans if the deal announced yesterday between the state and three Chinese firms to advance efforts to get North Slope gas out of the ground feels like just another pipe dream. Countless projects past, touted as a sure thing at one press conference or another, have all fallen apart. So, is the new deal championed by Gov. Bill Walker and the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. actually going to end with the long-awaited economic boom? The short answer: maybe.
Maria Cantwell’s rendition of “Don’t cry for me Argentina.” In the U.S. Senate, opponents of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are having trouble getting the word out. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., on Thursday lamented that the refuge drilling proposal isn’t drawing public outrage like it did more than a decade ago. “Listen, I know it’s a busy news cycle we live in,” Cantwell said at a press conference she called at the Capitol. “But last time this issue captured the public’s attention, and it’s been out of the public’s attention for a long time.” Asked what her strategy is, Cantwell said she hoped the reporters present would write a lot, to let people know Arctic refuge drilling could be tucked into the tax cut plan, a proposal that is grabbing bigger headlines. “We really sincerely hope that we can illuminate for the American people that this choice is being made,” Cantwell said.
Juneau Assembly looking to add public to mining committee. Applications are coming in from members of the public looking to be on the Assembly Mining Committee, and the current members of the committee met Wednesday to better examine candidates. The Mining Committee currently consists of Assembly members Norton Gregory (the chair of the committee), Maria Gladziszewski and Beth Weldon. The committee will add two members of the Planning Commission and two members of the general public. The formation of the committee sprang from a proposal this April to reexamine the current mining ordinance. A group of businessmen suggested that Juneau’s ordinance is unnecessarily duplicative of state and national standards, which is discouraging companies from pursuing mining in the borough.
New Pebble advisory board member joins to ‘protect the nest’
KTVA, Emily Carlson, November 9, 2017
Alaska senator proposes drilling in Arctic refuge
The Hill, Timothy Cama, November 8, 2017
Alaska’s Gas line deal with China explained
KTUU, Austin Baird, November 9, 2017
Arctic drilling foes find public passion has cooled
Alaska Public Media, Liz Ruskin, November 10, 2017
Mining Committee examines applications, possible roles of public members
Juneau Empire, Alex McCarthy, November 10, 2017
All China all the time. China’s giant state-owned oil company, Sinopec, and a pair of Chinese financial institutions have signed an agreement to advance Alaska’s liquefied natural gas export project, state officials announced Wednesday. The five-party agreement includes the state of Alaska, its gas pipeline agency — the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. — Sinopec, and the state-owned Bank of China. In an Alaska twist, the final participant is China Investment Corp., a state-owned $800 billion investment account that’s essentially a Chinese version of the Alaska Permanent Fund.
More China. China’s top oil company Sinopec announced earlier today it has agreed to help develop Alaska’s long-awaited $43 billion natural gas pipeline megaproject, according to the U.S. government. Alaska Gasline Development Corp., the state of Alaska, Sinopec, China Investment Corp. and the Bank of China have signed an agreement to advance the pipeline in Alaska. According to initial reports, the investment could be as much as $43 billion. The deal also has the potential to create as many as 12,000 U.S. jobs during construction, reduce the trade deficit between the United States and Asia by $10 billion each year and provide China with cleaner energy, according to the announcement.
Still more China. President Donald Trump can return to the United States claiming to have snagged over $250 billion in deals from his maiden trip to Beijing. Whether those deals live up to the lofty price tag is another question altogether. “This is truly a miracle,” China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said at a briefing in Beijing. The quarter of a trillion dollar haul underscores how Trump is keen to be seen to address a trade deficit with the world’s second-largest economy that he has long railed against and called “shockingly high” on Thursday.
One more China. The headline number is impressive: A quarter-trillion dollars worth of deals from China that President Donald Trump can use to show he’s creating opportunities for U.S. businesses and jobs for his base. The reality, however, is that the roughly 15 agreements unveiled on Thursday are mostly non-binding memorandums of understanding and could take years to materialize — if they do at all. A day earlier, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced $9 billion of deals, many also MOUs with few details, rather than contracts.
But wait, there’s more. The stars have finally aligned in the long-elusive effort to get Alaska’s massive gas reserves out of the ground, or at least it seems that way right now. Late Wednesday, state officials announced that Chinese firms and the state-run Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (“AGDC”) have inked a joint development agreement to advance the liquefied natural gas project. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping were in attendance as the State of Alaska, AGDC, Sinopec, China Investment Corp., and Bank of China signed the deal at the Great Hall of the People, a famed building at the edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing which is used for legislative and ceremonial activities of the Communist Party of China.
Last one…we promise. China’s top state oil major Sinopec, one of the country’s top banks and its sovereign wealth fund have agreed to help develop Alaska’s gas sector as part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit, company and government statements said on Thursday. Sinopec, China Investment Corp and the Bank of China will work with the Alaskan government on LNG marketing, financing and China’s role in developing the state’s major liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. Aiming to tap its North Slope gas reserves, the state created Alaska Gasline Development Corp (AGDC) in 2010 to build a gas treatment plant and pipeline network to produce up to 20 million tons of LNG per year for export. The U.S. government said in a statement the deal will involve investment of up to $43 billion, create up to 12,000 U.S. jobs during construction and reduce the trade deficit between the United States and Asia by $10 billion a year.
From Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:
TRUMP’S MIDNIGHT ENERGY DEAL WITH CHINA A VICTORY FOR ALASKA: President Trump late Wednesday night oversaw a major deal between Alaska and China for a natural gas export terminal. Chinese banks and energy companies would finance and build the terminal in Alaska to create an energy supply route to China. The agreement was signed in the presence of Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Trump’s visit to the communist country, according to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., one of the parties to the deal. An economic boom: “This is an agreement that will provide Alaska with an economic boom comparable to the development of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in the 1970s,” said Alaska Gov. Bill Walker. Who is involved: the development corporation and the Alaskan government signed the joint liquefied natural gas, or LNG, development agreement with the state-run China Petrochemical Corporation, or Sinopec, CIC Capital Corp., and the Bank of China. China wants ‘stable’ supply from U.S.: Sinopec said its goal is to help create a “stable” route for purchasing LNG from Alaska.
Alaska gas line agency signs agreement with Chinese oil company, financial institutions
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz & Alex DeMarban, November 8, 2017
China backs landmark LNG pipeline deal with Alaska
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Erin Granger, November 8, 2017
Trump’s $250 billion China ‘miracle’ adds gloss to ‘off-kilter’ trade
Reuters, Matthew Miller and Adam Jourdan, November 8, 2017
Trump’s $250 Billion China Haul Features Little of Substance
Bloomberg, Nick Wadhams, Peter Martin, and Keith Zhai, November 8, 2017
Alaska-China gas deal to be finalized over next year
KTUU, Austin Baird and Kortnie Horazdovsky, November 8, 2017
UPDATE 2-Chinese companies agree to develop LNG in Alaska as Trump visits
Reuters, Reuters Staff, November 9, 2017
Explore today for tomorrow’s energy security. The U.S., the world’s largest consumer of oil, will use more than 7 billion barrels of oil this year – right around 20 million barrels a day. Since we produce less than 15 million barrels each day domestically, we’re forced to import the rest from countries like Canada and Saudi Arabia. Oil imports cost us $144 billion last year, or $395 million every day, and are the fourth largest contributor to our national debt. Studies suggest that the U.S. will consume oil for the next few decades in ever increasing amounts, resulting in an even greater drain on our economy. Every barrel of oil produced at home replaces one that needs to be bought from abroad, decreasing our debt and the outflow of money from our treasury. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a refuge on the northeast tip of Alaska’s Arctic Slope. The 1002 area of ANWR, a 1.5-million acre coastal plain in the 19-million acre refuge, was set aside by Congress in 1980 specifically for its potential for oil and gas development. This area is not designated as wilderness, and today, it is the largest unexplored, potentially productive onshore basin on the continent.
Missile Defense for $200 million please. President Donald Trump has asked Congress for an additional $5.9 billion dollars for the Department of Defense, $4 billion of which would support missile defense operations to counter the threat from North Korea. The request, dated Monday, specifically asks lawmakers to authorize $200 million for construction of an additional ground-based interceptor field at Fort Greely in Interior Alaska. It would be the fourth missile field at Fort Greely. Sen. Dan Sullivan, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act, says the request is good for the country’s national defense, and for Alaska’s economy. “That kind of construction work is going to positively impact Alaska contractors, union workers, and that’s obviously very important to our state right now, particularly as we’re in a recession,” Sullivan told Channel 2 by phone on Tuesday. President Trump’s budget request also asks for $839 million for combined missile detection, disruption/defeat, and defense. Alaska also has two listening stations that are part of the Missile Defense Agency, at Shemya on the Aleutian chain, and Clear Air Station, also in Interior Alaska.
Will Parish, perish? Juneau’s deputy mayor has his sights on state office. On Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to run in the Aug. 21, 2018 Republican Primary Election for the Mendenhall Valley’s District 34 House of Representatives seat. If successful, he will face current Rep. Justin Parish, D-Juneau, in the Nov. 6, 2018 general election. Parish is currently in his first term. Nankervis, a retired Juneau Police Department captain, has served on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly since 2012 and has served as deputy mayor since October 2016. In a release, Nankervis listed his main priorities as keeping Juneau affordable, keeping the capital in Juneau and providing more opportunities for Juneau’s working families and young people.
From the Senate Majority Press: ICYMI: Last week, Alaskan leaders flew thousands of miles to Washington, DC to make a strong case for why responsible energy development should be allowed in a small portion of Alaska’s non-wilderness 1002 Area. One of those leaders was Aaron Schutt, the president and chief executive officer of Doyon and a tribal member of the Native Village of Tanana. Mr. Schutt testified about the remarkable evolution of technology on the North Slope and how it has strengthened environmental protections. Thanks to extended reach drilling, innovative completion techniques, and the use of ice roads and pads, the surface footprint of Arctic development has never been smaller—while our ability to access underground resources has never been greater. A few notable excerpts from Mr. Schutt’s written testimony: “Directional drilling in the 1970s permitted oil companies to produce oil from only about 16 square miles surrounding a single well pad. Today’s drilling rigs can easily drill wells from a single pad that can access over 100 square miles. That means that pads can be spaced up to ten miles apart and the habitat between pads can be protected with little or no surface disturbance. “Rig 26 [is designed] to drill up to 35,000 feet horizontally. That capability will allow the rig to drill wells covering 125 square miles from a single surface well pad. “Today’s well pads are now 70 to 88 percent smaller in acreage than three decades ago…the number of pads needed to access a field has fallen by up to 70 percent.” Did you miss Doyon’s President and CEO Aaron Schutt testifying in D.C. last week? Here’s the link to his testimony.
“Costly foray into renewable energy.” Two decades ago, BP set out to transcend oil, adopting a sunburst logo to convey its plans to pour $8 billion over a decade into renewable technologies, even promising to power its gas stations with the sun. That transformation – marketed as “Beyond Petroleum” – led to manufacturing solar panels in Australia, Spain and the United States and erecting wind farms in the United States and the Netherlands. Today, BP (BP.L) might be more aptly branded “Back to Petroleum” after exiting or scaling back its renewable energy investments. Lower-cost Chinese components upended its solar panel business, which the firm shed in 2011. A year later, BP tried to sell its U.S. wind power business but couldn’t get a buyer. “We made very big bets in the past,” BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley told Reuters in an interview. “A lot of those didn’t work. We’re not sure yet what will be commercially acceptable.” The costly lesson of the biggest foray yet by an oil major into renewable energy was not lost on rival firms.
Peak oil? Majors aren’t buying into the threat from renewables
Reuters, Ernest Scheyder and Ron Bousso, November 7, 2017
Woolston: America’s security and economy depend on ANWR
Durango Herald, Kristina Woolston, November 8, 2017
Trump requests $200M for new missile interceptor field in Alaska
KTUU, Kortnie Horazdovsky, November 7, 2017
Juneau deputy mayor announces campaign for House seat
Juneau Empire, Alex McCarthy, November 7, 2017
Special Edition Headlamp -For Inupiat, responsible development is key to their economic self-determination
From the Senate Energy Committee:
ICYMI: We wanted to make sure you saw the excellent testimony that Richard Glenn delivered last week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as he made the case for limited development in a small portion of the non-wilderness 1002 Area.
Mr. Glenn is originally from Barrow, Alaska, which is more than 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. He is the Executive Vice President for Lands and Natural Resources at the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which is owned by 13,000 Iñupiat shareholders from villages such as Point Hope, Point Lay, Wainwright, Atqasuk, Utqiaġvik, Nuiqsut, Kaktovik, and Anaktuvuk Pass. Kaktovik, we would note, is the only village located within the 1002 Area.
As Mr. Glenn explained to the committee, the Iñupiat have partnered with industry to create jobs and provide resources to meet their communities’ needs. Revenues from responsible development help put food on the table for families and facilitate basic infrastructure. Mr. Glenn also highlighted that while development has helped them enjoy a more modern lifestyle, it has not been at the expense of the Iñupiat culture and heritage, or local wildlife or the environment.
For many Iñupiat – who actually live on the North Slope – responsible development is central to their right to economic self-determination. As Mr. Glenn said last week, “The only indigenous people that should be listened to the loudest are the folks from Kaktovik. And today’s hearing, to me, shows that there is a lack of attention paid to them. Listen to what they’re saying. They need an economy. They need development in their area. They want to have the freedom to do what the rest of the country seemingly takes for granted. We’re talking about reliable power, and water, and schools, and the ability to use sanitation that keeps their kids healthy.”
To hear all of Mr. Glenn’s testimony, please click below.
EIS for Ambler. The Bureau of Land Management is taking the lead on an environmental review of the state proposed Ambler Road. The controversial project would punch an industrial access road from the Dalton Highway west to the Ambler Mining district. The proposed 211-mile road already faces substantial opposition from many area residents. BLM Central Yukon Field Office manager Tim Lamar said his agency is charged with looking at a full range of issues in drafting an environmental impact statement. ”That can range from what you think of natural resource issues to economic and socioeconomic benefits or concerns,” Lamar said. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is shepherding the Ambler Road project for the state, has applied for a right away to cross a mix of lands, prompting the EIS review. Lamar said it covers a mix of lands, including Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.
Commissioner Mack wants to plant Alaska’s trees. We couldn’t agree more. In 1923, President Warren Harding set aside 23 million acres in the middle of the U.S. Arctic as a petroleum reserve. The National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, or NPR-A, is magnificent and its oil resource potential is world class. In 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated 10 billion barrels of undiscovered oil in the reserve. While that number was downgraded to 900 million barrels in 2010, exciting new discoveries at the Nashik and Willow prospects indicate the 2002 estimate was likely more accurate, and might even be too conservative. Alaskans know better than most that we are vying with other nations for control of the Arctic. To win the race for control our top priority should be developing infrastructure in the region. Doing so will protect and strengthen Arctic communities, increase commerce for Alaskans and our country, and provide a platform for our nation to face challenges and even threats from other countries attempting to infringe on our waters.
Hamilton comes on board at PLP. The Pebble Partnership announced today that long time Alaskan and retired Major General Mark Hamilton will join the project as Executive Vice President of External Affairs. Hamilton is also President Emeritus of the University of Alaska. “Mark Hamilton is among Alaska’s best known and most highly respected residents, in large part for his tremendous accomplishments and service to the state over 12 years as President of the University of Alaska,” said Pebble Partnership CEO Tom Collier. “We fully expect Mark’s vision, his leadership and his credibility to materially advance our efforts to re-position the Pebble Project, to ensure it provides meaningful and enduring benefits to the people of Bristol Bay and Alaska, and to help create the social and political conditions necessary to permit this project in the years ahead.” Collier said Hamilton will begin work immediately this fall, and expects to connect with political, business, community and Alaska Native leaders throughout the state to better understand their views and consider their advice as the Pebble Project advances into permitting.
A bust with no boom? Congratulations Houston, another oil bust has ended. Just don’t count on another boom. Oil markets have finally stabilized at prices where companies can make money. U.S. crude inventory dropped 2.4 million barrels last week to 454.9 million barrels, marking the fifth decline in six weeks. Gasoline stocks dropped 4 million barrels, while diesel and other distillates dropped 400,000 barrels. The Brent oil futures market, where oil companies and speculators bet on international oil prices, is signaling that oil supply is tightening. The West Texas Intermediate futures market, which prices U.S. oil, is on the verge of flipping too as stockpiles revert to five-year averages.
From the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:
SYRIA JOINS PARIS CLIMATE PACT, LEAVING U.S. AS LONE HOLDOUT: Syria announced Tuesday that it would join the Paris climate change agreement, leaving the United States as the only country opposed to the deal after President Trump’s June 1 decision to withdraw from the accord. “There has been no change in the United States position on the Paris agreement,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “As the president previously stated, the United States is withdrawing unless we can re-enter on terms that are more favorable for our country.” The U.S. and Syria were the only countries not parties to the agreement after Nicaragua joined the Paris deal last month. Syria made the announcement at the COP23 United Nations climate change talks in Bonn, Germany, which began Monday and end Nov. 17.
“…fighting like the third monkey on the gangway to Noah’s Ark.” Suppose you were a deer staring blankly into the blazing headlights of an oncoming, speeding truck. And suppose you were a member of the Alaska Legislature. But, with a tip of the hat to Mark Twain, I repeat myself. The state Department of Revenue guys analyzed Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed payroll tax — read income tax or pay cut, your pick — and concluded it would cost the state $10 million and require the hiring of 40 new bureaucrats when fully implemented in 2020. If adopted, and it ain’t likely with next year’s election looming, the 1.5 percent levy would take effect Jan. 1, 2019. It would have a maximum cap equal to two times the Permanent Fund dividend distributed in the previous calendar year. Good grief. It would affect every worker and those who are self-employed.
BLM is moving forward on proposed Ambler Road project
Alaska Public Media, Dan Broses, November 6, 2017
OPINION: NPR-A promises wealth of oil, strong Arctic presence
The Arctic Sounder, Andy Mack, November 3, 2017
Oil bust may have ended, but a boom isn’t in sight
The Houston Chronicle, Chris Tomlinson, November 6, 2017
OPINION: Earnings reserve of Permanent Fund can cover government and dividends
Alaska Dispatch News, Paul Jenkins, November 5, 2017
Hibernation begins with the rig count. While higher than last year, a survey of U.S. exploration and production activity in October suggests the sector may go into hibernation during the winter. The analytics division of commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts recorded 1,033 rigs in active service in the United States last month, down about 1 percent from the previous month. Rig counts serve as a metric for activity geared toward exploration and production and serve as a loose barometer to gauge sector confidence.
Unprecedented exploration on the North Slope this winter. A federal geologist said Thursday there are dozens of potential oil pools in just one corner of the Alaska petroleum reserve where the Trump administration recently expanded access for the oil industry. A geological prospect around that northeast section of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska should see “unprecedented” exploration this winter, said David Houseknecht, the U.S. Geological Survey’s lead geologist for oil and gas resources in Alaska. Seven exploration wells are planned within that corner and just outside the reserve. ConocoPhillips plans five and Armstrong Oil and Gas plans two, he said.
Comprehensive AND controversial. Got Gas? A comprehensive plan to get more natural gas to the Interior is halfway home. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority board of directors unanimously approved a $331.2 million financing plan authority leaders hope will enable the Interior Gas Utility to bring the Interior Energy Project to fruition. Included in the deal is the sale of Fairbanks Natural Gas and its Titan LNG plant on Point MacKenzie in Southcentral for $59.5 million, as well as passing of the gas supply contract AIDEA secured in September with Cook Inlet producer Hilcorp Energy. The three-year gas contract, which starts Jan. 1, essentially underpins the whole project. AIDEA officials had been trying to reach a gas supply deal with Cook Inlet producers since early 2016 but the fact that the ultimate demand for gas is still unknown hampered progress.
Revenue sharing for Alaska in the house! A House Republican leader introduced a comprehensive bipartisan energy bill on Friday that would open up financial incentives for states that allow energy development off their shores. The SECURE American Energy Act was introduced Friday by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was joined by House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop of Utah. Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente González of Texas also signed onto introducing the legislation. Scalise explained that the bill provides “incentivizes” for offshore energy production by extending revenue-sharing agreements from Alaska to the Atlantic states while raising existing revenue-sharing caps to provide Gulf states like Louisiana with hundreds of millions in additional dollars to help restore their coasts.
Move the legislature, please! A ballot initiative is in the works to move legislative sessions out of Juneau. The group “Equal Access Alaska” filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission Saturday. According to the filing, it was created to “support efforts to provide more government access to Alaskans.” Dave Bronson, Chairman of the group, says the measure is intended to move legislative sessions, not the capital, from Juneau. If backers get enough signatures, the question would be on the ballot in 2020.
How much oil is in ANWR? All eyes were on a Senate hearing in Washington D.C. yesterday, as Democrats and Republicans once again sparred over whether to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. But one federal scientist whose work could sway the Arctic Refuge’s future wasn’t at the hearing — he was here in Alaska, giving a talk to an industry group. David Houseknecht works for the U.S. Geological Survey, and he’s trying to figure out two key questions: How much oil is in the Arctic Refuge, and where is it? The answers could decide ANWR’s fate, no matter how the politics play out. Houseknecht’s audience was packed with industry people and their political allies, eager for clues on where more oil might be hiding in the Arctic. But Houseknecht wanted to make one thing clear right off the bat: he’s doesn’t like taking sides.
From the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:
WILL THE ENERGY INDUSTRY EVEN WANT TO DRILL IN ANWR? Republicans are closer than ever to achieving their long-time goal of allowing oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but energy companies might not be interested in taking up the opportunity. ‘What we do’: Energy industry groups say they expect a rush of activity if Congress opens a 1.5 million-acre section of the Alaskan refuge, but the companies themselves are less bullish about their plans. Some doubt that drilling in the refuge can meet Republicans’ expectations that drilling can raise $1 billion for the government over 10 years, with oil prices hovering around $50 a barrel and competition steep from natural gas in the nation’s shale regions. “There is a lot of pressure from the shale play and Lower 48, and the price structure currently is not terribly supportive of activities in Alaska because we are a high-cost environment to produce oil,” said Tom Walsh, public affairs chairman and an oil and gas consultant with the Alaska Support Industry Alliance. “But we are an oil and gas resource state. That’s what we do.” Alaska’s energy needs: Alaskan politicians are especially eager to tap the refuge because oil production in the state has fallen from more than two million barrels per day in the late 1980s to under a half-million barrels per day — a big deal in a state whose government provides residents an annual check from oil revenue. “Everyone understands ANWR to be the biggest prospective onshore conventional oil field in North America,” said Robert Dillon, an energy consultant and former senior staffer for Murkowski. “There is substantial interest both from Alaskans and energy companies.” Energy companies non-committal: Yet energy companies that have experience operating in Alaska’s remote, capital-intensive terrain are less direct about their expectations. ConocoPhillips already has operations in the National Petroleum Reserve, a 23.5-million acre federal land in northwest Alaska set aside for energy development. “If the 1002 area was authorized for leasing, we would consider it against other opportunities in our portfolio, just as we do with exploration opportunities worldwide,” said Daren Beaudo, director of media relations for ConocoPhillips.
U.S. exploration and production slowing down
UPI, Daniel Graeber, November 3, 2017
With high expectations, Alaska’s petroleum reserve should see ‘unprecedented’ exploration this winter
Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, November 3, 2017
AIDEA approves sale of LNG plant to Fairbanks gas utility
Alaska Dispatch News/Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehmer, November 4, 2017
Steve Scalise introduces bill to expand offshore energy incentives to all states
The Washington Examiner, John Siciliano, November 3, 2017
Ballot initiative aims to relocate Alaska Legislature
KTVA, Liz Raines, November 5, 2017
Geology gets political as federal scientists pursue new ANWR oil assessment
Alaska Public Media, Elizabeth Harball, November 3, 2017
NPRA and state oversight. US House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) released a new draft of proposed legislation to overhaul federal lands energy policy late on Oct. 31. The committee’s Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, which discussed two earlier drafts at hearings in October, will examine this one on Nov. 7. “This comprehensive overhaul of upstream energy policy creates the regulatory certainty that is needed to spur economic investment on federal lands,” Bishop said. “With these reforms, we can harness the full potential of our domestic resources, increase revenues to federal and state governments, and build a foundation of energy strength at home and abroad.”
From the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:
EPA BRINGS CLIMATE REPEAL ROAD SHOW TO COAL COUNTRY: The Trump Environmental Protection Agency will take its road show on rolling back the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to West Virginia late this month in a symbolic salute to coal country after the Obama EPA refused to visit the Mountaineer State when it suggested the climate plan. The visit is part of the public hearing process to vet the Trump administration’s proposed rule to rescind the climate change regulations on existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan had been projected to have closed dozens of coal plants if it were put into effect. The plan was halted by the Supreme Court in February 2016. The hearing will be held Nov. 28-29, when the EPA will hear from affected communities about the economic and employment impact of the Clean Power Plan, according the Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who oversees the EPA in her role on the Environment and Public Works Committee. “After years of being ignored by the Obama administration, West Virginians are finally going to be heard,” Capito said. “Our coal miners, their families and entire communities will soon have a chance to share how they have been affected by these far-reaching regulations. I appreciate the Trump administration’s commitment to creating and preserving energy jobs.”
China + Russia = LNG? Russian natural gas giant Novatek will cooperate with the China National Petroleum Corporation and the China Development Bank in the implementation of the Arctic LNG 2 project. This partnership follows an already-existing cooperation between the two countries on Novatek’s Yamal LNG project. The company signed a strategic cooperation agreement with CNPC with the aim to jointly develop the large-scale Arctic LNG 2 project and collaborate in various segments of natural gas and liquefied natural gas markets, including the trading of LNG and gas infrastructure. In addition, a memorandum of understanding was signed under which the China Development Bank will provide for up to $3 billion in financing for the project under a framework between Vnesheconombank and the Export-Import Bank of China.
Walker + China = LNG? Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said Thursday that he will join President Donald Trump’s trade mission to Asia next week, in hopes of striking a deal with Chinese companies on the state’s proposed $43 billion gas-export project. Walker, who was in Washington, D.C., for congressional hearings, told reporters in a hastily organized conference call Thursday that he’ll leave with Trump’s entourage Friday for meetings in Hawaii. Walker will then travel separately to Beijing over the weekend, where he expects to seek investments in the pipeline project and commitments to buy gas. Walker and Keith Meyer, the head of the state’s gas pipeline agency, will join dozens of American corporate leaders on the trade mission, including the chief executives of Goldman Sachs and Qualcomm. “This is probably the most significant opportunity we’ve had with the market,” Walker said.
Fossil-Fuel friendly tax plan spares oil, not solar or Tesla. The tax overhaul proposed in the U.S. House looks like a better bet for oil and natural gas companies than solar developers or electric car buyers, keeping with President Donald Trump’s decidedly fossil-fuel friendly views. The proposal, unveiled Thursday, slashes tax rates almost in half for most corporations, and expands the ability of businesses — from shale drillers to solar panel makers — to write off equipment. It keeps most of the oil industry’s most cherished tax breaks intact, as well as investment and production tax credits for renewable energy.
Anti-ANWR Senators have selective hearing. Eleven Alaskans testified before the U.S. Senate Energy Committee on Thursday — for and against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. While senators said they wanted to listen to the people of the Arctic, many seemed to hear selectively. Sam Alexander, from Fort Yukon and Fairbanks, cuts a striking figure in a congressional hearing, and not just because of his moose hide vest.
VIDEO: See how Rep. Young describes the 1002 area of ANWR. Rep. Don Young gets creative in describing 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in a Senate Energy Committee hearing on whether or not to drill for oil in the area. Click here for video.
Bishop releases new draft of federal lands energy policy overhaul
Oil & Gas Journal, Nick Snow, November 1, 2017
China is set to expand its role in Novatek’s Arctic gas development
Arctic Now/High North News, Malte Humpert, November 3, 2017
Gov. Walker, joining Trump trade mission to China, sees ‘most significant opportunity’ for Alaska gas
Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban & Nat Herz, November 2, 2017
Fossil-Fuel Friendly Tax Plan Spares Oil, Not Solar or Tesla
Bloomberg News, Alex Nussbaum, Brian Eckhouse, and Emma Ockerman, November 2, 2017
When US Senators listen to Arctic voices, only some resonate
Alaska Public Media, Liz Ruskin, November 2, 2017
Alaskans testify on opening 1002. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is bringing together a slew of Alaskans, mostly pro-drilling, to testify at a Senate hearing about what it would mean to open up the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Murkowski has regularly offered up legislation to open the so-called “10-02” coastal area of ANWR to drilling, but may have the best chance of passage in decades by attaching a provision to tax cut legislation congressional Republicans are planning for this year. As chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski is in charge of finding $1 billion in additional tax revenue, which she hopes to draw from federal leasing profits.
$1B in revenue from ANWR? For decades, environmental groups warned that Big Oil would plunder the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if Congress opened the area to drilling. On Thursday, the U.S. Senate will hold a hearing on whether to allow drilling in the refuge as part of the Republican tax plan, and now the environmental argument has shifted. A report commissioned by the Alaska Wilderness League claims drilling advocates are exaggerating industry’s interest in the refuge. The budget plan Congress passed last month calls on the Senate Energy Committee to come up with $1 billion in federal revenues over the next decade. Sen. Lisa Murkowski chairs that committee and says allowing oil lease sales in the refuge are the best way to fulfill the directive.
From Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:
MURKOWSKI SAYS DRILLING IN ARCTIC REFUGE CAN RAISE $1 BILLION: Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed confidence Thursday morning that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a longtime Republican goal, could raise $1 billion over 10 years to help pay for tax reform…“The first 10 years are just the start of a 40-year period where responsible production raises billions of dollars in revenues for our country every year,” Murkowski said at the opening of a three-panel hearing to discuss the topic. “We will see the benefits over decades, not just over the 10-year budget window.”…“We are not asking to develop all of the 1002 area,” Murkowski said. “We are asking for 2,000 acres, about one ten-thousandth of ANWR. We have waited nearly 40 years for the right technology to come along for a footprint small enough for environment to be respected. This is not a choice between energy and the environment. We are past that.”
‘Caribou for millionaires’: Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the committee’s top Democrat, said she doubted Republicans could raise $1 billion over 10 years. “We are here today because someone came up with the ludicrous idea to take a sliver out of the wildlife refuge to pay for tax reform,” Cantwell said. “I almost want to call this ‘caribou for millionaires.’ I find it hard to believe there will be an economic incentive to drill in the refuge. There is no new science that says we don’t have to worry about this wildlife, no new science to say oil will take up a smaller footprint. I am disturbed.”
IGU wants changes to Pentex deal. Interior Gas Utility manager Jomo Stewart said Tuesday revisions must be made to the proposed sale and finance agreement before he could recommend the utility buy Pentex from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. Pentex assets include Fairbanks Natural Gas, the Titan LNG gas liquefaction plant, and a truck hauling operation. AIDEA has proposed to sell Pentex to the borough-owned Interior Gas Utility for about $58 million. On Thursday, John Springsteen, its CEO, was authorized to sign off on the agreement before Nov. 30. Any further action on AIDEA’s end of the deal, including revisions, would require action from its board of directors. Stewart and his team have reviewed the deal since taking a first look Oct. 25. He said the document had “internal conflicts,” comparing it to a Swiss-made watch. “The major financial provisions are good,” Stewart said of the contract. “We did a thorough review. I did meet with my team yesterday. We have identified some small instances in which the gears of the Swiss watch don’t quite mesh.”
Bringing STEM to girls in Anchorage. The Anchorage School District is working to get more girls interested in math and science careers. The district partnered with the Girl Scouts of Alaska and Exxon Mobile to host Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Environmental engineer Sonia Laughlin taught students cosmetics and chemical engineering go hand-in-hand during her science lesson on lip gloss. “Most people when they think about engineering don’t think about makeup. They think about oil and gas or Procter & Gamble manufacturing. But makeup gets manufactured as well,” Laughlin explained. She showed the girls how to take four simple ingredients—coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter and olive oil—and transform the liquids into a solid gloss. The goal is to get girls considering STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—careers earlier in their education.
I’ll bet you a nickel that the Arctic holds more than oil. The Arctic is often imagined as a new energy frontier because of its ample oil reserves. But what if its nickel is actually the resource that becomes the region’s most sought-after commodity? That may happen in the not-so-distant future if trends in the automobile industry continue to shift towards electric vehicles. At present, the Arctic is estimated to hold some 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil. Many Arctic and non-Arctic countries alike hope that oil from the far north can help slake the world’s addiction to the fossil fuel. At the same time, particularly in the wake of the Paris Agreement, the world is trying to shift away from burning fossil fuels. Countries like Norway and China, both of which are active in Arctic oil exploration, are also attempting to reduce the amount of cars on their roads that rely on petroleum. By 2025 in Norway, all passenger vehicles are supposed to be zero-emission.
Alaskans to testify Thursday in U.S. Senate hearing on drilling in ANWR
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, November
Can Congress squeeze $1b from ANWR?
Alaska Public Media, Liz Ruskin, November 1, 2017
IGU demands changes to Pentex deal
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Kevin Baird, November 1, 2017
‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’ highlights STEM careers
KTVA, Heather Hintze, November 1, 2017
Arctic nickel — not Arctic oil — could soon power the world’s cars
Arctic Now, Mia Bennett, November 2, 2017
Looks like we made it! Governor Walker is in the top (bottom really) 10 of “least popular governors.” The latest installment of Morning Consult’s Governor Approval Rankings — a survey of more than 255,000 registered voters nationwide conducted online from July 1 to Sept. 30 — features a shuffling at the top and bottom, along with a debutant on the list and a new entrant in the highest ranks.
Don’t confuse activity with results. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) has signed an order establishing a climate change strategy for the state and appointing a board to investigate ways to limit its effects. Walker’s order calls on a team of experts to recommend “statuary and regulatory changes” in the state to help it deal with climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The group is directed to focus on adapting for, and responding to, the effects of climate change within Alaska, including rising sea levels and its impact on communities there. But the order aims to support the Paris climate agreement as well, seeking ways to reduce Alaska’s greenhouse gas emissions. The order calls for recommendations by Sept. 1, 2018. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott (D) will spearhead the effort. As one Headlamp reader noted: I’m glad to see that the governor has firmly set his sights on something that he has absolutely no control over nor could we have A SIGNIFICANT impact upon. Headlamp would also note that the order leaves the decision making for later – like, after an election?
Can you have your cake and eat it, too? Senator Lisa Murkowski was unequivocal when asked recently about rising global temperatures. “Climate change is real,” the Alaska Republican told an audience in Anchorage. Yet her stance on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is just as clear. Senator Murkowski, who heads the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has long argued that it must happen, for the economic prosperity of her state and the security of the country. Her views — contradictory to some, a pragmatic balance for others — will take center stage on Thursday when the committee holds a hearing on opening part of the refuge to drilling, an effort to raise revenue for the federal government as part of a planned tax overhaul. For supporters of drilling in the Arctic refuge, the tax plan represents the best chance in decades to realize the dream of drilling for oil beneath the tundra.
Trump inspires coal miners. When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing. He settled instead on something familiar: a coal mining course. “I think there is a coal comeback,” said the 33-year-old son of a miner. Despite broad consensus about coal’s bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. Trump has promised to revive coal by rolling back environmental regulations and moved to repeal Obama-era curbs on carbon emissions from power plants. “I have a lot of faith in President Trump,” Sylvester said.
From today’s Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
SIERRA CLUB LOSES – COURT REJECTS GREENS’ SUIT AGAINST NATURAL GAS EXPORTS: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected an attempt by the Sierra Club and other groups to try to kill three liquefied natural gas export terminals approved by the Energy Department. The case against the three terminals in Maryland, Louisiana and Texas failed for the same reasons the environmental groups failed in an earlier lawsuit that the court rejected in August. “In a very recent case, Sierra Club v. U.S. Department of Energy (Freeport), this court denied a petition by Sierra Club challenging, under the same two statutes, the [Energy] Department’s approval of an LNG export application from a fourth facility. The court’s decision in Freeport largely governs the resolution of the instant cases,” the court’s panel of three judges wrote in their decision. Greens targeting energy dominance agenda: Wednesday’s ruling comes as environmental groups have filed a series of lawsuits against approvals of natural gas export terminals, which is a key part of President Trump’s energy dominance agenda.
New player on the North Slope mates! Oil Search has signed an agreement to acquire a number of oil assets in the Alaska North Slope from privately-owned companies Armstrong Energy LLC and GMT Exploration Company LLC. The assets include a 25.5% interest in the Pikka Unit and adjacent exploration acreage and a 37.5% interest in the Horseshoe Block. These leases contain approximately 500 million barrels (gross) in the Nanushuk and satellite oil fields, with Nanushuk being one of the largest conventional oil fields discovered in the US in more than 30 years. The acquisition will provide Oil Search with world class oil assets immediately adjacent to existing infrastructure. The Alaska North Slope is an established, prolific oil producing province, in the world’s largest developed economy, with an attractive fiscal regime. The assets complement the Company’s existing top quartile, high returning PNG gas portfolio and, with significant growth opportunities, have the potential to become, over time, a material business for Oil Search, of a scale equivalent to its PNG assets.
Walrus faring better than Polar Bears. Two of the Arctic’s most iconic animals face challenges with retreating sea ice. The Bush administration listed the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act in 2008. But recently, the Pacific walrus was denied the same protections under President Trump. Critics have called it a political decision. But the real story is likely a lot more complicated.
America’s Most and Least Popular Governors
Morning Consult, Cameron Easley, October 31, 2017
Alaska governor signs order on climate change strategy
The Hill, Devin Henry, October 31, 2017
An Alaska Senator Wants to Fight Climate Change and Drill for Oil, Too
The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, November 1, 2017
Awaiting Trump’s coal comeback, miners reject retraining
Reuters, Valerie Volcovici, November 1, 2017
One Arctic species is listed, one isn’t. Did politics play a role?
Alaska Public Media, Elizabeth Jenkins, October 31, 2017
Big Budget Presentation at 10am today. OMB Director Pat Pitney will present to Senate Finance today on the status of the state budget – with a 10 year budget scenario. “The Office of Management and Budget has developed a ten year budget scenario to complement the Department of Revenue’s preliminary revenue forecast. While the Governor’s budget will be released in December, this budget scenario is intended to aid the legislature as it considers the Governor’s proposed revenue measure. This budget scenario merely reflects the cost of the current level of services. It does not represent the Governor’s FY2019 budget but provides a forecast of the cost if the current legislatively approved state funded services are extended for the next ten years.” Click here for all pertinent documents for today’s presentation.
Mexico “hedges” bets on oil prices for a cool 24 billion. Mexico spent about 24 billion pesos ($1.25 billion) to lock in prices of oil exports for next year, or more than 21 percent what it paid to hedge crude a year ago, according to Finance Ministry data. The cost for buying put options on the market as of the end of the third quarter came to more than the $1.03 billion spent last year to protect against a drop in oil revenue, according to data released in the quarterly budget balance. In recent years, Mexico has spent an average $1 billion buying the hedges. Deputy Finance Minister Vanessa Rubio said in mid-October that Mexico completed its annual oil hedge for 2018. Mexico buys put options from a small group of investment banks each year in what’s considered Wall Street’s largest — and best-concealed — annual oil hedge. Mexico Finance Ministry proposed a 2018 public budget in September projecting oil exports revenue at $46 per barrel. Lawmakers increased that assumption earlier this month to $48.5.
Murkowski attempting to restore Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area. When President Trump in April signed a series of executive orders that overturned Obama-era environmental protections, one initiative that was eliminated was aimed at helping safeguard the northern Bering Sea from climate-change impacts. For standing approvingly in the White House by Trump as he axed the months-old Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area — a designation that was the product of years of work by the region’s leaders — Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was harshly criticized by the people who had invested time and effort into creating it. Now Murkowski is promising to use legislation to resurrect a core part of Obama’s Bering Sea executive order — the requirement that policies be vetted by the region’s tribes and that analysis consider traditional indigenous knowledge. In a speech to the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in Anchorage, Murkowski said she met with the Bering Sea Elders Group, the organization behind Obama’s order, and is working with the elders on a bill to that end. “We’ve all seen that executive orders, they can come and they can go,” she said in her Oct. 21 speech to the convention. A better approach, she said, is to ensure that the tribal and indigenous knowledge roles are “anchored in law.”
Mexico Spent About $1.25 Billion on the World’s Biggest Oil Hedge
Bloomberg, Nacha Cattan, October 31, 2017
Sen. Murkowski is working to restore parts of an Obama executive order on the Bering Sea that Trump overturned
Arctic Now, Yareth Rosen, October 31, 2017