Trump administration hits pause on offshore oil plans after Alaska court ruling
Dino Grandoni, The Washington Post, April 25, 2019
A recent federal court decision appears to have struck a blow to President Donald Trump’s plans to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling across the U.S. continental shelf, with the aim of turning the United States into an energy-exporting behemoth. In his first interview since being confirmed to Trump’s Cabinet, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told the Wall Street Journal that a recent ruling by a district court in Alaska has stalled plans that at one time called for opening up most U.S. continental-shelf waters to oil and gas companies. Last month, U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason ruled that Trump’s revocation of a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans is illegal. The judge ruled that Congress would need to step in to reverse a decision by President Barack Obama to ban offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
Oil prices plunge 3% after Trump says he told OPEC to tame fuel costs
Tom DiChristopher, CNBC, April 25, 2019
Oil prices tumbled as much as 4% on Friday, extending early losses after U.S. President Donald Trump said he told OPEC to take action to temper fuel costs. “The gasoline prices are coming down. I called up OPEC. I said, ‘You’ve got to bring them down. You’ve got to bring them down, and gasoline’s coming down,” Trump told reporters en route to a National Rifle Association event in Indianapolis. In fact, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.883 per gallon, up from $2.877 a day ago and $2.839 a week ago, according to AAA. Wholesale U.S. gasoline prices have ticked lower in recent days but are still up about 10% from a week ago and nearly 7% from a month ago.
Lindsey Graham: ‘Climate change is real, the science is sound, and solutions are available’
Dallas Business Journal, April 26, 2019
Former Texas governor and current U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry delivered a keynote address Wednesday evening in which he said executives and politicians should continue to embrace innovation, not regulation, to tackle global warming. At the same event, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) took it a step further, saying there will be drastic economic consequences if politicians can’t come together to combat climate change.
Speaking as part of an EarthX2019 discussion in Dallas on climate change and its economic impact, Perry said there isn’t a profitable path to giving up on fossil fuels entirely. He said that renewable sources of energy offer promise, but lack the consistent supply required to be practical as standalone solutions for driving the economy — for now.
Perry said that the U.S. should continue to invest in renewable energy, but that it must do so without surrendering “growth or opportunity.
Trilogy keeps refining Arctic project as it awaits road permit
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce, April 24, 2019
Trilogy Metals is in the midst of advancing two mineral prospects in Northwest Alaska but it’s still on the lookout for additional opportunities in the region. The Vancouver-based mining company is preparing its most advanced Arctic copper, zinc and precious metal deposit for permitting. CEO Rick Van Nieuwenhuyse wrote via email that Trilogy is specifically developing an environmental evaluation document to ostensibly organize and vet all of the information about the prospect and planned open-pit mining operations before it is submitted in formal state and federal permit applications. The environmental evaluation goes hand-in-hand with a feasibility-level study of the mine and its forecasted economics, according to Van Nieuwenhuyse. Trilogy has $7 million budgeted for the feasibility and environmental work this year with a goal of having the feasibility study done in early 2020.
Murkowski seeks comment extension on mine draft analysis
Associated Press, April 25, 2019
Alaska’s senior U.S. senator has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to extend from 90 to 120 days the comment period on a draft environmental review of a proposed copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region. In a letter to the corps’ Alaska commander, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski cites the draft’s “length and complexity” and the need to ensure Alaskans can provide “meaningful feedback” on it. She also asks the corps to “redouble” its efforts to meaningfully consult with Alaska Natives who live in the region. She says she expects the corps to seriously consider their input in finalizing the review. A corps spokesman says the corps is considering all requests surrounding the length of the comment period, currently set to run through May 30.
Our Take: We agree wholeheartedly with the Pebble Project “We fundamentally disagree with Senator Murkowski that extending the public comment window is needed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established a comment window that is twice the norm for a resource project, and we commend them for that. Further, all of Alaska’s major trade and industry groups support the 90-day public comment review as more than adequate and have expressed serious reservations about the implications for future resource projects by extending comment periods beyond the norm. We join with these organizations in recognizing there needs to be accountability via the federal government in meeting permit timeline milestones – an issue we thought Senator Murkowski agreed with. Unfortunately, all that happens through a comment window extension is allowing national environmental organizations to flood the ballot box and continue to raise money through opposing resource projects in Alaska.”
Opinion: We are an Alaska Native Corporation that backs Pebble Mine. Here’s why.
Brad Angassan, Juneau Empire, April 25, 2019
Democrats Dangerously Moving Even More Left on Energy Policy
Daniel Turner, Real Clear Energy, April 24, 2019
The 2020 Democratic candidates are racing to the left, and if you’re an energy worker or an American who cares about strong economic growth and energy independence, their rhetoric and policies should send a shiver down your spine. This week, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders released proposals they say are needed to fight climate change. In reality, they’d decimate energy jobs, the economy at large, and could even hurt environmental conservation efforts. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren struck first, declaring in a Medium post on Monday that if elected President, she would implement a “total moratorium” on new fossil fuel leases on public lands, including offshore drilling, on her first day in office.
Trump Considering Waiving Jones Act Mandate for Natural Gas, Sources Say
Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Jenny Leonard, Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg, April 23, 2019
President Donald Trump is seriously considering waiving the requirement that only U.S.-flagged vessels can move natural gas from American ports to Puerto Rico or the Northeast, according to people familiar with the deliberations. The issue was debated during an Oval Office meeting on Monday, following requests from Puerto Rico and pressure from oil industry leaders to ease the nearly 100-year-old Jones Act requirements, according to three people. Although top administration officials are divided on the issue, Trump is now leaning in favor of some kind of waiver, said two of the people, who asked for anonymity to discuss the private deliberations. The move — which would be fought by U.S shipbuilding interests and their allies on Capitol Hill — has been promoted as essential to lower the cost of energy in Puerto Rico and ease the flow of American natural gas to the U.S. Northeast, where there aren’t enough pipelines to deliver the product from Pennsylvania.
Renewable energy mandates are costly climate policies
Amy Harder, Axios, April 22, 2019
One of the most popular climate-change policies in America — renewable energy mandates — is also expensive, a new study says. Driving the news: Standards in roughly 30 states that require a portion of electricity to come from renewable sources, mostly wind and solar, are driving up power prices and imposing a high cost to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new report out today by the University of Chicago. The big picture: Urgency about climate change is growing around the country, with numerous states ramping up their renewable-electricity requirements and lawmakers in Washington mulling similar policies as proposed in the Green New Deal. This report, one of the most comprehensive analyses of its kind, questions the conventional wisdom that says these policies are effectively addressing climate change.
Related – from the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
WASHINGTON STATE PASSES 100 PERCENT CLEAN ENERGY BILL: The Washington State legislature passed a bill Monday requiring utilities to generate 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.
The measure would also force utilities to stop using coal power by 2025.
Washington is the fourth state in the country, following California, New Mexico, and Hawaii, as well as Washington D.C., to pass 100 percent clean energy legislation.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democratic presidential candidate running a climate-centric platform, is expected to sign the bill.
“On this Earth Day, I couldn’t be more proud of the Legislature’s action to pass the country’s most forward-looking clean energy bill,” Inslee said in a statement
Oil prices hit nearly 6-month highs on fears Trump’s Iran crackdown will lower supply
Tom DiChristopher, CNBC, April 22, 2019
- Oil prices hit fresh 2019 highs, continuing to rally after Washington announced plans to slash Iranian crude exports.
- The Trump administration will no longer grant sanctions waivers that allow limited purchases of Iran’s oil.
- Saudi Arabia says oil producers will “ensure adequate supplies are available to consumers.”
China’s Far From Done With Coal as Regulator Eases New Plant Ban
Bloomberg News, April 19, 2019
The decision underscores how dependent on coal the world’s second-largest economy still is, even as it invests hundreds of billions of dollars in cleaner energy sources such as natural gas, wind turbines and solar panels. While coal’s share of China’s total energy consumption fell to 59 percent last year, the growth in the country’s total energy consumption meant burning of the dirty fossil fuel actually increased by 1 percent.
Oil Hits Six-Month High as U.S. Ends Waivers on Iran Oil Imports
Dan Molinski, The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2019
- Oil prices surged Monday to their highest level since late October after the White House said it was ending waivers for countries to import Iranian oil, a move that could put a squeeze on global crude supplies.
- West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. oil benchmark, was 2.3% higher at $65.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, putting it on track for its highest close since Oct. 31.
- Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, was up 2.3% at $73.64 a barrel on London’s Intercontinental Exchange.
Exxon Mobil inks LNG sales deal with China
Jordan Blum, Chron, April 22, 2019
The contract comes as Exxon Mobil is beefing up its LNG project investments from the Texas Gulf Coast to the Eastern Mediterranean. Exxon already has existing LNG operations in Qatar and Papua New Guinea that can provide much of the China shipments.
Regulating U.S. Mining
A fact sheet by Minerals Make Life, April 16, 2019
Mining is one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the world. The Mining Law of 1872 – which governs prospecting and mining for minerals like gold, copper, silver and lithium – led the U.S. to become a global leader in minerals mining, and helped advance innovations in energy, healthcare, manufacturing and defense technology. It is complemented by exhaustive modern federal and state environmental, ecological and reclamation laws and regulations to ensure that operations fully protect public health and safety, the environment, and wildlife.
Oil Stocks Must Win Over Gen Z Investors
Sam Unsted, Bloomberg, April 17, 2019
Generation Z has precious little love for oil and gas stocks, but winning over these younger, climate-conscious investors will be essential for the sector’s future, Barclays Plc analysts say. Only 19 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds are likely to buy shares in oil and gas companies, the lowest level of any age group, according to a survey conducted by Barclays and polling firm YouGov Plc. However, this group is also the most likely to change its mind, creating an opportunity for oil firms if they can provide what this generation wants. Oil stocks have recovered somewhat since the lows hit in 2016 when crude prices plunged, forcing companies to fundamentally alter the way they operate by slashing costs. But current enterprise value-to-earnings multiples are still well below where they were in the past as the sector struggles for stock gains despite oil prices recovering and cash flows booming. “Engaging this group, essentially Generation Z, may be the key to halting and potentially reversing the de-rating of the energy sector that has occurred over the past decade,” Barclays analysts led by Lydia Rainforth said. Gen Z investors want two things, the survey found. More investment in renewable energy and a reduction of oil companies’ carbon footprints, for sure, but they also want attractive returns.
Record U.S. Oil And Natural Gas, Falling Methane Emissions
Jude Clemente, Forbes, March 7, 2019
Breakthroughs in finding and stopping methane leaks are a constant search for the U.S. oil and natural gas industry. In fact, this was a central topic at the triennial World Gas Conference (WGC) held last summer, for the first time in Washington DC. For our booming shale business, more methane capture and fewer emissions are core goals. This makes perfect sense of course. Natural gas, for instance, is itself composed of 95% methane (CH4). Thus, methane is a product to be sold, and the industry always seeks to “not let it leak out.” In short, there is a natural financial incentive to capture as much methane as possible. This maximizing of efficiency is obviously good for business. Just as importantly, the industry knows that natural gas is the clear winner in the global objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while still supplying reliable and affordable energy. Gas emits 50% less CO2 than coal and 30% less than oil, but it is also the essential backup for intermittent renewables: “Natural Gas Is The Flexibility Needed For More Wind And Solar.” Gas companies realize that getting a firm grip on methane leaks really puts them in the driver’s seat as we race toward our future energy world. Increasingly, natural gas is being confirmed as a “destination fuel,” no longer just a “bridge fuel.”
Why Gas Is the Ultimate Future Fuel: Saudi Aramco
Natural Gas News, April 18, 2019
Saudi Arabia was built by oil, but natural gas is shaping its future. In fact, that trend applies to most countries’ economic growth plans. One of the cleanest, most cost-effective fuels for power generation, industry, transportation, and numerous other sectors worldwide, gas is the ultimate future fuel.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals company, is making natural gas a strategic focus. Here’s why we see gas as the roadmap to a more prosperous, sustainable future – and how innovation is helping us tap its tremendous economic and environmental potential.
Final Pebble hearing draws mix of views
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media, April 16, 2019
People who oppose the Pebble Mine – and quite a few who support it – came out in force Tuesday for the final Corps of Engineers hearing on the proposed mine.
“I’m a fifth-generation commercial fisherman,” said 15-year-old Emily Taylor, a freshman at Dimond High who fishes in the Naknek-Kvichak district every summer. “And the permit I now hold once belonged to my great, great grandmother, Anna Chukan.”
Taylor said she hopes to pass her salmon permit and setnet fishing tradition on to her heirs, but she says a mine could end all that. Her hand shook as she read from her cell phone screen.
“I don’t want my children and grandchildren to have to ask me what it was like to go fishing. Do you think they’ll ask me about this day? What I did to stop it? I don’t want that to become my reality,” she said.
Jimmy Hurley Sr. of Ekwok said he had to leave his community and now works in Togiak, hauling fuel. He said salmon aren’t enough for the young people in Ekwok.
“Are they going to be proud of living off food stamps or welfare or all the other things?” Hurley said in an interview after his testimony. “Look at the state right now, with Medicaid being cut and … all these other things that are free stuff. There’s not going to be anything free anymore, so we better get people to work.”
Our Take: Kudos to Liz Ruskin for capturing two statements that so clearly state the argument over the mine from the people who live where the mine will be.
Somehow the media missed one of the most significant statements made in yesterday’s 8-hour hearing. The statement below lays out the claim that the Bristol Bay Native Corporation has no legal basis to state that “it will not permit trespass on it’s subsurface for the purposes of support to Pebble.” That’s a big deal folks.
STATEMENT OF SAMUEL J. FORTIER ON BEHALF OF ALASKA PENINSULA CORPORATION
I speak today concerning Alternative I, the preferred access route for ingress and egress to the proposed Pebble Mine. It is my distinct privilege to have represented Alaska Peninsula Corporation for 35 years, and I speak today as their lawyer. My comments are limited to APC’s protected rights to develop its lands without interference.
As the Corps is aware, APC is a village corporation within the meaning of § 3(j) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. It owns 400,000 acres of surface estate lands in fee. Almost half of those lands are in the Iliamna Lake area, near the Pebble prospect. APC supports Alternative I, which will involve approximately 24 miles of right-of-way on APC’s lands.
The Regional ANCSA Corporation, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, is the owner of the subsurface underlying APC’s lands. BBNC has stated publicly that it will not permit “trespass” on its subsurface for the purposes of support to Pebble.
BBNC has no legal basis to hinder APC’s right to economic development of APC’s lands. The Ninth Circuit has been clear on this matter. In Koniag, Inc. v. Koncor Forest Resource, 35 F.3d 991 (9th Cir. 1994), the Court expressly held that a Regional Corporation cannot block a village’s economic development. The Court held that: “Congress intended that those village corporations that did select land for economical potential would be able to use that land and to realize its potential.” APC selected its land for economic potential. BBNC cannot render APC’s lands worthless. Rather, APC has an implied easement to rock, sand and gravel that is necessary for APC’s realization of its economic potential.
BBNC’s threats are therefore frivolous. BBNC may not unreasonably deny access on APC’s planned right-of-way.
- APC supports Alternative I. Alternative I access is on APC lands. The Alternative permits APC to develop its economic potential for its 900 shareholders and their families.
- As a matter of law, BBNC cannot prohibit APC’s realization of APC’s economic potential.
- Alternative I provides the least risk, and the greatest benefit to the Iliamna Lake community.
US candidate would ban new federal oil and gas leases
Katherine Schmidt, Upstream, April 15, 2019
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said that if elected she would immediately ban the issuance of new federal oil and gas leases both on land and in offshore waters. Warren is part of a crowded field of Democratic candidates who have pledged to be more aggressive on the environment and step up efforts to combat climate change but is one of few that has rolled out concrete policy proposals. “That’s why on my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands,” Warren said on Monday in a post on Medium. Warren’s piece did not discuss her outlook on existing oil and gas production and leases.
Our Take: A plan that kills 676,000 jobs and costs our economy $134 billion? Who wouldn’t support her for President…?
Pebble Mine opponents, supporters prepare for final public hearing on draft environmental impact statement
Derek Minemyer and Mike Ross, KTUU, April 15, 2019
Beginning Tuesday at 12 p.m., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold its final public hearing on the Pebble Mine Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and groups both opposed to and in support of the proposed project are gearing up to mobilize public testimony. Save Bristol Bay and Trout Unlimited Alaska are working with members of the public opposed to Pebble Mine to help refine their testimony. “We are encouraging our people to say no to Pebble Mine because of the risk it poses to the fishery,” Jenny Weiss with Trout Unlimited said.
The Pebble Partnership also spent Monday preparing for the public hearing, according to spokesperson Mike Heatwole. They will have a hospitality room on the third floor of the Dena’ina Center during the hearing, and a hotline to answer questions.
From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
MICROSOFT COMMITS TO CARBON TAX: Tech giant Microsoft announced late Monday it is nearly doubling its internal carbon tax that funds the company’s sustainability efforts and is joining a GOP-led group advocating for Congress to pass a federal carbon tax.
Microsoft’s self-imposed carbon tax, first established in 2012, will rise from $8 to $15 per metric ton, as the key component of its goal to cut its carbon emissions 75 percent by 2030. It aims to run its data centers with more than 70 percent renewables by 2023.
The company is also turning its attention to federal policy, joining the Climate Leadership Council, a group led by two former Republican secretaries of state, James Baker III and George Shultz, calling for Congress to pass a carbon tax and dividend, where the proceeds of the levy are returned to the public.
Microsoft is the first tech company to join the Climate Leadership, which counts oil and gas companies such as ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell among its members.
Here’s the nation’s only new coal plant. Is it the last?
Dylan Brown, E & E News, Energywire: April 15, 2019
Finding America’s only new coal-fired power plant means trekking nearly to the Arctic Circle. The University of Alaska, Fairbanks, hopes to complete work this May on a new 17-megawatt facility that will replace an existing 55-year-old coal plant as the source of power and heat for the nation’s northernmost campus. “We’re just working out some of the bugs right now so we can run continuously,” said senior project manager Mike Ruckhaus. Fairbanks is thousands of miles removed from the wave of coal power shutdowns that keep rolling across the Lower 48. And coal advocates and their critics vehemently disagree if the first new U.S. plant since 2015 has anything to do with the future of coal in this country. University officials started looking to replace the old plant, built in 1964, when the boilers failed in 1998. “In the middle of the winter in Fairbanks, Alaska, when you lose your heating plant for 10 hours, that sort of gets your attention,” Ruckhaus said. Outages continued, but the university did not settle on a $245 million plan until 2013. At a school famous for its climate change research, many students and staff balked at continued coal use.
Alaskan oil developers face technical challenges to exploit new plays: Fuel for Thought
Tim Bradner for S & P Platts Oil, April 15, 2019
As Alaska’s oil production declines, enormous attention is being paid to even the slightest hint of a find that could turn the state’s fortunes around. Much hope has been pinned on the development of the Nanushuk, a broadly-dispersed set of rocks along the Colville River that extends west into the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Some companies have had success finding oil, with claims ranging from a conservative 500 million barrels to over 3 billion barrels of recoverable resources. But a recent dry hole in the Nanushuk has brought to light some of the economic and technical challenges facing those who want to tap into those potential riches. The stakes are high for Alaska. The Nanushuk discoveries have created new interest in the North Slope within industry and excitement among state leaders who have long worried about the gradual decline of the existing fields.
Trade wars threaten gas market outlook
NGW Magazine, April 15, 2019
This year’s BP Energy Outlook considers what might happen if global trade disputes escalate. It’s a prospect that threatens to heighten energy security concerns and push countries to produce more and import less – China being a case in point, with its higher coal burn.
The key points drawn by BP are:
- International trade has an important influence on the global energy system: it underpins economic growth and also allows countries to diversify their sources of energy.
- If the recent trade disputes escalate, they could have a significant impact on the energy outlook.
- A slower GDP growth trend would reduce the level of world GDP in 2040 relative to BP’s Energy Transition (ET) scenario by 6%, and energy demand by over 4%. Those falls would be concentrated in countries and regions most exposed to foreign trade and in fuels, oil, gas and coal (Figure 1).
- This general pattern is also evident in individual countries: lower energy demand and a shift in the fuel mix towards domestically-produced sources of energy.
Chevron Leaps to `Ultramajor’ Oil Status With Anadarko Deal
Simon Casey, Javier Blas, and Kelly Gilblom, Bloomberg, April 12, 2019
Chevron Corp. agreed to buy Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in a $33 billion deal that adds U.S. shale oil and African liquefied natural gas and puts it in the top ranks of the world’s largest energy companies. The takeover puts Chevron neck-and-neck with the oil and gas production of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, both of which have dominated Big Oil over the past decade. The combined company’s cash flow last year, $36.5 billion, would have exceeded Exxon’s. “Chevron now joins the ranks of the ultra-majors,” Roy Martin, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said in a note.
From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
MURKOWSKI, MANCHIN INTRODUCE BILL TO CREATE NEW DOE CARBON CAPTURE PROGRAMS: Murkowski and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., introduced a bill Thursday authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars to create four new Energy Department carbon capture research and development programs.
One program would focus on improving lower costs and improving efficiency and effectiveness of carbon capture and storage on coal and natural gas plants. Another would boost efforts to commercialize the captured carbon for other uses. A third program would center on improving carbon capture for alternative uses, such as for industrial plants.
And the bill also creates a carbon removal program, to aide “direct air capture” technologies being developed to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere.
“Carbon capture offers great potential to reduce emissions and will complement other clean technologies like advanced nuclear and renewable energy,” Murkowski said.
BP Pulls Out Of China’s Shale Patch
Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPrice.com, April 12, 2019
BP is set to become the latest international major to quit drilling for shale gas in China because of poor exploration drilling results so far, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing three sources with knowledge of the plans. Back in 2016, BP and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a production sharing contract (PSC) for shale gas exploration, development, and production in the Neijiang-Dazu block in the Sichuan Basin in southwestern China. Later in 2016, BP signed a second PSC deal with CNPC for shale gas exploration at Rong Chang Bei in the Sichuan Basin. However, poor results from shale gas drilling are now making BP withdraw from the projects, according to Reuters sources. BP joins other international oil and gas majors such as Shell, Eni, Exxon, and ConocoPhillips that have stopped drilling for shale gas in China, leaving the country’s shale gas sector predominantly in the hands of the large Chinese state-held energy companies.
China, gas and Russia
Natural Gas News, April 12, 2019
Relations between Russia and China warm up as relations between either of them and the US cool down, making life difficult for long-term projects such as gas infrastructure.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has said that the 38bn m³/yr Power of Siberia, the Russian gas line destined to send gas to China, would be built ahead of time. This desire to speed up construction quite likely is due to two reasons:
- China and the US could finally reach a deal which would send a considerable amount of American LNG to China, and this could lead to a decline in price.
- China could be self-sufficient in the near future and need neither Russian nor US gas.