Hoffman says no end in sight; Horrible headline from Herz and Harball

February 8, 2019 | Posted in : News

Sen. Hoffman Predicts A Long Legislative Session Since No House Speaker Elected
Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK, February 7, 2019

The Alaska State House has set a record for the most days into a legislative session with no House Speaker elected. Thursday marks the 24th day without a speaker. With the House unable to formally deliberate bills or form committees until a leader is elected, Democratic Sen. Lyman Hoffman of Bethel is predicting another long session ahead.

Our Take: The house minority (16 democrats and 1 independent) is having a tough time letting go of their power. This is an excellent case for why the legislative session should be held on the road system.   If more Alaskan residents were present to witness the blatant quests for power instead of getting down to business…

Alaska GOP Gov. Dunleavy seeks to oust Democratic chair of oil and gas watchdog agency
Nathaniel Herz and Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk, February 7, 2019

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is seeking to oust former Democratic state senator Hollis French from his position at the top of a state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry. A two-page letter from Dunleavy last month charges French with “neglect of duty and misconduct,” and levies five charges to justify the governor’s bid to remove French from chairmanship of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Dunleavy accuses French of typically working no more than four hours a day and pursuing “non-work-related interests” while in the office, among other charges. But the letter includes no supporting documentation or evidence.

Our Take: Long before this action was taken, word on the street was Mr. French had an attendance problem at work. If that is true, he shouldn’t be a Commissioner. Lots of qualified folks would be happy to earn $140,000 annually and work full time. Too bad the writers of this piece chose to make it Republican vs. Democrat before doing more research.

A road to somewhere: Why the Ambler Road makes sense
David Prum, Anchorage Daily News, February 8, 2019

As we move forward toward a carbon-free energy economy, there will be some tough environmental choices to be made. Expanding zero-carbon energy sources will require massive new sources of certain materials that can only be mined from the earth with a certain amount of local environmental disruption. Copper is one of those essential materials. All the new technologies powering any new revolution in green energy require copper as a conductive material. Solar panels, electric vehicles, wind turbines, new efficient batteries and the smart electrical grid to connect them all require copper. The investments in these necessary technologies will require massive new sources of copper.

From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:

HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE PASSES NOPEC BILL: The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed a bill allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC under antitrust laws for price fixing and production cuts.

The bill, No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (NOPEC), looks to protect U.S. shale producers from price swings created by OPEC.

It passed in a unanimous voice vote but is unlikely to move in the House with oil prices relatively low.

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May the odds be (N)ever in your favor: rough day for LNG, electric cars, permanent fund, and ANWR exploration

February 7, 2019 | Posted in : News

LNG Pipeline just a pipe dream?
Brian Mazurek, Peninsula Clarion, February 6, 2019

“There is no LNG project coming in the near future.”

At the latest Kenai/Soldotna Joint Chamber Luncheon, speaker Larry Persily — a former federal official for Alaska gas pipeline projects and chief of staff for former borough mayor Mike Navarre — expressed doubts that the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) would make a final investment decision regarding this project by the end of 2019. “I don’t speak for them, I’m just telling you: there’s no possible way it could happen,” said Persily during his presentation at the Joint Chamber Luncheon on Wednesday. Persily laid out the reasons why he is convinced the pipeline is more of a pipe dream than a reality. Persily’s three main arguments revolved around increased competition from other LNG projects, decreased demand from China and a lack of essential pieces to the puzzle. Without any partners, customers or money, the Alaska LNG project seems to be dead in the water, he said.

Our take: While an economically viable LNG project is appealing, not having the appropriate market conditions certainly sounds like a reason to not pursue this project.


Governor calls for ‘full project review’ of Alaska LNG

AAA confirms what Tesla, BMW, Nissan electric car owners suspected — cold weather saps EV range. Even turning on the car drains power
Paul A. Eisenstein, CNCB, Feb. 6, 2019

Hoping to increase the appeal of their battery-electric vehicles, automakers have begun rolling out an assortment of “long-range” models, such as the Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Jaguar I-Pace and Nissan Leaf Plus. Under ideal conditions, these products can deliver more than 200 miles per charge and, in some cases, even 300. But as many owners discovered last week as winter storms slammed much of the country, cold weather does not qualify as “ideal.” A new AAA study finds that when the thermometer dropped to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, range fell by an average of 41 percent on the five models it tested.

Alaska Permanent Fund value drops 3.2% in first half of fiscal year amid volatile financial markets
Elwood Brehemer, ADN, February 7, 2019

“Within a long-term investment horizon, it is anticipated that the global markets will go up and down; it is a part of the buying, selling, trading process of the portfolio’s holdings,” Rodell said. “And while we invest with the intent that they will go up more than they go down, there are going to be dips. Our team is poised to take advantage of those dips.” Despite the negative returns, the fund outperformed the corporation’s passive investment index benchmark, which comparably measured losses of 6.54 percent in the first half of fiscal 2019, according to a Feb. 4 APFC release.

The challenging first half to fiscal 2019 is in stark contrast to 2018 when the corporation achieved returns of 10.74 percent. Calculated as 5.25 percent of the fund’s five-year average value, the fiscal 2020 percent of market value, or POMV, appropriation is expected to be roughly $2.9 billion.

Interior: No 3-D Seismic exploration in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this winter
Elizabeth Harball, Alaska Public Media, February 6, 2019

Seismic exploration can only be done in winter, and the company needed approvals from Interior to do the work. Originally, the agency had hoped to get the project permitted last summer. But in November, top Interior official Joe Balash acknowledged the agency was pressed for time to complete the approvals. Balash said it was taking time for the company to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service on compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. And according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News, the government shutdown further delayed the work.

Our take: Disappointing that we won’t see exploration this winter. Jobs lost due to permitting delays. We will continue to work with our state and federal administration to find ways to make permitting effective and efficient.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

MANCHIN: THE KEY IN PONDERING ‘IDEOLOGY’ VS. ‘REALITY’ OF THE GREEN NEW DEAL: Sen. Joe Manchin, the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, spent most of Thursday morning trying to get his head around the “Green New Deal,” as a resolution on the progressive agenda was being introduced in both chambers.

Manchin labeled the progressive green agenda a set of “ideological beliefs” at a committee hearing on energy innovation, but also said he wanted to understand the “real world” consequences of it and if other countries are going to follow the U.S. in pursuing the agenda.

Manchin said he feared “people using their own facts” to justify the agenda.

Thursday’s was the second hearing for Manchin as ranking member. He is a centrist Democrat with close ties to conservatives, but also wants to see investment by the government in transforming the fossil fuel industry — primarily coal — into a low-carbon energy.

He focused on two pieces of innovation to flesh out the low-emission side of the green agenda.

First, he wants to beef up the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, or at least see that the remaining $30-$40 billion that the program is authorized for is used for moving the ball forward to commercialize new energy technologies.

Ernest Moniz, the previous administration’s energy chief, suggested at the hearing that the committee could pass legislation to expand the loan program to include energy infrastructure development, which would be a change that would help the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Second, Manchin wants to see the successful commercialization of converting coal mines into resources for generating “rare earth” minerals needed to build the batteries for electric cars and other technologies required for renewables and other technology.

A principal for a project being advanced with federal help in his home state of West Virginia said the process should be commercial in a year.

The technology is focused on transitioning the coal mining industry toward a new, cleaner way of mining for minerals that will be needed for advanced technologies for a clean energy transition, but also for defense applications and things like iPhones.

Right now, most of the rare earth minerals the U.S. needs are imported from China.

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Power-sharing propaganda; New world order for oil prices.

February 6, 2019 | Posted in : News

Power-sharing among options Alaska House is exploring
Associated Press, February 5, 2019

An Alaska House Democratic leader says members will need to wrestle with whether a power-sharing agreement is the best option for organizing the chamber. Rep. Bryce Edgmon says lawmakers have explored other options and none so far has materialized. A group of eight representatives has been looking at power-sharing arrangements in other states. Edgmon says other scenarios are also floating around.

Our Take: Regardless of the outcome of house organization, trusting anything that Rep Knopp says or does will be difficult.

Wild price swings may be the new normal for crude oil markets as US, Russia and Saudis vie for influence
Patti Domm, CNBC, February 5, 2019

  • The three largest oil producers are locked in a new world order that could mean more volatile crude oil prices.
  • The U.S. has become the world’s largest producer, and U.S. production has become a major factor in world supply.
  • Russia, Saudi Arabia and OPEC may wait to act after U.S. sanctions on Venezuela. A rush to add supply ahead of Iran sanctions led to prices cratering.

OPEC Pursues Formal Pact with Russia
Benoit Faucon, Summer Said, The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2019

Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies are backing a formal partnership with a 10-nation group led by Russia to try to manage the global oil market, according to OPEC officials, in an alliance that would transform the cartel. The ability of such an alliance to put a floor on oil prices would run counter to President Trump’s goal of lowering gasoline prices for U.S. consumers ahead of presidential elections next year.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

EPA CHIEF TRAVELS TO GEORGIA TO PROMOTE TRUMP’S INFRASTRUCTURE AGENDA: Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator Andrew Wheeler will travel to Georgia on Wednesday to put details to President Trump’s State of the Union address when it comes to infrastructure.

EPA announced the visit in an advisory on Tuesday before the State of the Union. Wheeler will be visiting a plant nursery in the Peach State that uses robots and other innovations to grow plants more effectively.

He will be promoting Trump’s State of the Union address, discussing EPA’s new proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, nutrient policy and ongoing efforts to modernize the nation’s aging infrastructure, EPA said.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced Wheeler’s nomination to be the next EPA administrator on Tuesday, even though he has been serving as acting chief since July and has already been confirmed as EPA’s deputy before that.

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ANWR Anxiety; Green New Deal Won’t Shun Fossil Fuels

February 5, 2019 | Posted in : News

Protesters take over ANWR environmental scoping meeting
Erin McGroarty, Daily News-Miner, February 5, 2019

Activists pushing against oil development in the 1002 Coastal Plain area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge took over a public scoping meeting Monday evening that was initially supposed to go very differently. Unlike past public hearings, this meeting was organized in an open-house style, according to Joe Balash, the Department of the Interior’s assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management. Scientists stood near poster signage explaining the environmental impact statement draft process and two court stenographers sat behind a curtain to take testimony from members of the public. A presentation on the EIS drafting process began at 5 p.m. but was quickly interrupted by protesters asking why the meeting style had been changed, why the Fairbanks hearing only had five days of notice and why Alaska Natives had not been consulted in the EIS drafting process.

Our take: The Anchorage public scoping meeting will take place on Feb. 11 at the Dena’ina Center from 1 – 7pm, with presentations at 2 and 5pm. All interested parties will have the same opportunity to provide comments. We hope that the event runs smoothly and that people get the information they are looking for regarding the EIS.

Matanuska-Susitna Borough has gained the most jobs during Alaska’s recession
Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News, February 4, 2019

While most Alaska boroughs and census areas have lost jobs during the state’s economic downturn, some have gained. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough had the biggest job growth from 2015 to 2018, according to a new economic report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The borough’s job count grew 3.4 percent — or 769 jobs — during that time, comparing the first three quarters of each year, 2015 to 2018. After shedding thousands of jobs, Alaska’s oil and gas sector is expected to add a few hundred jobs this year.

Our take: Things are boding well for the oil & gas industries in Alaska, but likely remain at a stalemate until we see a budget and organization in Juneau.


Alaska House speaker vote fails amid ongoing talks

Trump to nominate ex-energy lobbyist Bernhardt to head Interior
Timothy Gardner, Arctic Today, February 5th, 2019

President Donald Trump said on Monday he would nominate David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, to be secretary of the Interior, the department that oversees U.S. public lands.

Bernhardt, currently the acting secretary at the Interior Department, is widely expected to continue pushing the Trump administration’s plan to boost domestic fossil fuels production by opening more U.S. public lands to drilling and mining. “David has done a fantastic job from the day he arrived, and we look forward to having his nomination officially confirmed,” Trump said on Twitter.

Our take: Bernhardt spoke to the Alliance last year after his appointment to Deputy Secretary of the same department and has a good understanding of Alaska.

Green New Deal won’t call for end to fossil fuels
Zack Colman, Politico, February 4th, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are expected to introduce a resolution outlining elements of the plan within days, which will include a goal for eliminating the U.S. carbon footprint by 2030, according to multiple sources. The text includes an aim to “achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for a fair and just transition for frontline communities and displaced workers,” among other high-level ambitions. It also opens the door to using still-unproven technology to eliminate carbon pollution from fossil fuel use — an avenue that many climate activists dismiss as an expensive dead end. But it does not explicitly call for eliminating fossil fuels themselves.

In Russia, Agreement Breaks You
Spencer Jakab, Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2019

While the victorious Bolsheviks soon adopted the calendar the rest of the world uses, perhaps a bit of lingering confusion is behind a disagreement that could pressure oil prices. Saudi Arabia, which long reigned supreme in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, rankled some members by bringing in nonmember Russia to make output cuts effective.


Russian oil output reaches record high in 2018

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Polar Star Struggles; Permitting reform – quality not quantity.

February 4, 2019 | Posted in : News

The only U.S. heavy icebreaker broke down on a mission to Antarctica again
Melody Schreiber, Arctic Today, February 1, 2091

The Polar Star, the only operational U.S. heavy icebreaker, reached Antarctica on its annual resupply mission to McMurdo Station on Jan. 17 — but not without encountering difficulties along the way. First, one of the electrical systems started smoking. The incident damaged wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of two evaporators used to make drinking water stopped working. Then the shaft driving the ship’s propeller began leaking. Divers, using a hyperbaric chamber on loan from the U.S. Navy, entered the waters beneath the vessel and repaired the seal. And then there were the ship-wide power outages as the vessel broke through an 18-mile stretch of solid ice, sometimes as thick as 21 feet, to McMurdo Sound. To fix those issues, the entire power system was shut down and rebooted, which took nine hours.

Permitting in Alaska should focus on quality, not page count.
Eric Fjelstad, Bill Jeffress, Anchorage Daily News, February 3, 2019

Last fall’s ballot initiative campaign made clear that there are many misperceptions about what it takes to permit a project in Alaska and, specifically, about the federal permitting process being undertaken to evaluate resource development projects. Alaska has an abundance of federally protected wetlands and federal lands, which results in federal agencies playing a key role in the permitting of resource development projects in the state. The current federal administration has made permitting reform a top priority. This is important for Alaskans because resource development is a fundamental cornerstone of our economy. However, there are interests openly advocating that Alaska’s resources should stay in the ground, and that we should not build roads or other infrastructure. These interests actively work to stop projects and are strongly resisting efforts to reform the federal permitting processes. Their latest claim, arising on multiple fronts, is that federal project evaluations are being undertaken too quickly.

UK government urged to back industry future
Anamaria Deduleasa, Upstream Online.Com, February 4, 2019

Scotland has called on the UK government to support its “ambitious” plans to ensure a long-term future for the local oil and gas industry. In a new report, the Scottish Affairs Committee recommended the UK government agree to several steps, which it calls necessary for the industry to prosper and adapt to the government’s climate change targets. According to research by the committee, which follows an in-depth inquiry with six evidence sessions with industry experts, stakeholders, environmental groups and ministers, the industry should focus on maximizing economic recovery to provide a domestic source of oil and gas.

WorleyParsons edges closer to Jacobs acquisition
Josh Lewis, Upstream Online, February 4, 2019

Australian engineering company WorleyParsons is edging closer to the completion of its $3.3 billion acquisition of Jacob Engineering’s energy, chemicals and resources segments. WorleyParsons confirmed Friday it had received regulatory approval for the deal from the European Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau, which adds to the US HSR antitrust clearance it received in December. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval in South Africa and certain pre-completion restructuring activities within Jacobs.

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TGIF: Taxes used to incentivize behavior; BP agrees to tell all.

February 1, 2019 | Posted in : News

South Korea to cut LNG taxes by 74% in April, raise thermal coal tax by 27%
S & P Global Platts, February 1, 2019

South Korea has decided to lower taxes on LNG by as much as 74%, while raising taxes on thermal coal by 27%, from April this year as part of efforts to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on coal in power generation, government officials said Friday. “The government approved the tax rate revision so as to reduce consumption of coal blamed worsening air pollution,” a senior official at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said. Under the measure, taxes on LNG that include consumption tax and import tax will be lowered to Won 23 ($0.02) per kilograms from Won 91.4/kg currently, he said. “Furthermore, import tax will be refunded for LNG used for combined heat and power,” he said.

Our Take: If you reduce taxes you get more LNG, if you increase taxes you get less coal – pretty basic economics.

Analysis: Qatar’s giant LNG fleet expansion to shape market in coming decade
S & P Global Platts, February 1, 2019

Qatar’s plan to double its LNG carrier fleet by 60 vessels will be one of the largest fleet expansions the industry will witness to date and will be critical to the evolution of LNG trade flows and market dynamics in the next decade. Qatar, the world’s largest LNG exporter, already operates the largest LNG fleet through its shipping subsidiary Nakilat, which has pushed economies of scale with its Q-Flex and Q-Max vessels, the largest LNG carriers in operation.


                  Exclusive: Qatar, Exxon to proceed with $10 billion Texas LNG project

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

BP AGREES TO DISCLOSE HOW ITS ACTIONS HELP MEET PARIS CLIMATE GOALS: Facing pressure from investors, British oil and gas giant BP agreed Friday to a shareholder resolution forcing it to disclose how its actions help meet the goals of the Paris climate change agreement.

The resolution, put forth by an investor network called Climate Action 100+, said: “Investors remain concerned that the company has not yet demonstrated that its strategy, which includes growth in oil and gas as well as pursuing low-carbon businesses, is consistent with the Paris goals.”

Helge Lund, BP’s chairman, said additional reporting requirements will “build on BP’s history of progressive action in this area.”

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Survey Says? “Uber for Icebreakers” & Predictable process hijacked by politics.

January 31, 2019 | Posted in : News

Alaska Senate Majority 2019 Survey Results

Our Take – We appreciate the Senate Majority giving Alaskans an opportunity to provide input on issues facing Alaska. We also note, as does the Senate Majority, the shortcomings of the polling process.

Collaborative effort for Arctic icebreaking gains traction
Associated Press, January 31, 2019

A proposal to use private and foreign ships to help fill the demand for commercial icebreaking is gaining traction among Arctic stakeholders. Polar Institute Director Mike Sfraga said the concept would be similar to ride-hailing services like Uber, but instead it would be a commercial ship calling for support vessels to help cross Arctic waters, Alaska Public Media reported Wednesday. The “Uber for icebreakers” model would call for a collaborative effort among the northern countries to create an Arctic pathway paid by commerce fees, Sfraga said at a roundtable discussion in the U.S. Senate last week.

Our Take:  An interesting concept worth investigating. If the US has to wait 10 years for one icebreaker – it pretty much defeats the notion of being prepared.

Interior delays public comment deadline for ANWR oil leasing
Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk, January 30, 2019

Following the government shutdown, the Interior department is giving the public an additional month to weigh in on its controversial plans to allow oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In a statement, top Interior official Joe Balash said the comment period is being extended from February 11 to March 13, in response to requests from Alaska communities and tribes, as well as nonprofits from across the U.S. Democrats in Congress who oppose drilling in the Refuge had also written letters urging Interior to extend the comment period, arguing the shutdown limited the agency’s ability to provide information to the public. During the government shutdown, Interior was continuing to plan meetings about oil leasing in the Refuge, leading to outcry from Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups. The agency later announced it was delaying the meetings, although the dates and locations had never been publicly announced.

Our Take:  The public has more time to comment. Here is the schedule for hearings. Don’t miss your opportunity.  

FERC delays on LNG decision frays nerves
James Osborne, The Houston Chronicle, January 31, 2019

The mysterious delay of a $4.5 billion liquefied natural gas facility on the Louisiana coast has turned a case before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission into the subject of a Washington guessing game raising fears that what had been a predictable approval process for the nation’s booming natural gas exports is becoming mired in partisan politics.

Our Take:  A predictable process hijacked by politics does not create a stable investment environment.

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Fight over LNG site continues; Like a good neighbor – Exxon is there.

January 30, 2019 | Posted in : News

Mat-Su Borough keeps up fight over LNG site
Larry Persily, Alaska Journal of Commerce, January 29, 2019

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough on Jan. 25 added 145 pages to its ongoing argument that Port MacKenzie would be a better location than Nikiski for the Alaska LNG project’s natural gas liquefaction plant and marine terminal. The borough, which owns the property across Knik Arm from Anchorage, added additional comments, maps, charts and photos to the docket at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is scheduled to release its draft environmental review of the Alaska LNG proposal sometime in February. The borough has long been critical of the site selection, Port MacKenzie alternative analysis and answers provided by the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., the state-funded corporation that is leading the proposed $43 billion project.

Slug of proposed permits launches comment periods for Donlin Gold project
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News, January 29, 2019

The state of Alaska on Monday launched a roughly two-month comment period for several proposed decisions that would advance the Donlin Gold project, including one that would grant the right-of-way lease for a 315-mile-long natural gas pipeline. If approved by the state, they won’t be all the authorizations the Southwest Alaska project will need. But they would help significant parts of it move forward, including a road, the port, an airstrip and a fiber-optic cable, officials said Tuesday.

New Mexico takes aim at emissions
Caroline Evans, Upstream Online, January 29, 2019

The governor of the US state of New Mexico has announced plans to tighten rules on emissions from oil and gas activities as part of a wide-ranging agenda to dramatically cut greenhouse gas pollution. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order on Tuesday that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over 2005 levels by 2030. Lujan Grisham said her administration was seeking the cuts to lessen effects on the environment, limit adverse impacts from climate change, and reduce energy waste. The order calls on New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and Environment Department to jointly develop a statewide, enforceable regulatory framework “to secure reductions in oil and gas sector methane emissions and to prevent waste from new and existing sources and enact such rules as soon as practicable”.

Our Take: This is what happens when politicians make decisions before understanding an issue. Oil and gas producers are the ones investing in advanced technologies and tools that lead to declining emissions. Attacking the industry that is leading the charge (not to mention funding a significant portion of state government) is short-sighted.

An oil giant backs a high-tech rescue for collapsing Arctic ice cellars in Alaska
Gregory Scruggs, Thomas Reuters Foundation, January 29, 2019

When Inupiaq hunters wrestle a 100-ton bowhead whale back to land from the high seas, the next challenge is where to store all that meat. For centuries, the Inupiaq, an Alaska Native group that lives along the shores of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, have dug cellars into the permafrost as a form of natural refrigeration. Now those “ice cellars” are under threat. Warming temperatures are melting permafrost, while coastal erosion is exposing the underground chambers. Scientists and the Inupiaq are split on whether climate change or human factors, like shoddy construction, are to blame for the collapsing cellars, found in all eight villages scattered across Alaska’s North Slope, an area roughly the size of Britain and home to about 9,800 people.

Our Take: Headlamp wonders why it takes the author so long to get to the heart of the matter? “The $120,000 investment needed to install the cellar was donated as an act of corporate philanthropy by petroleum company ExxonMobil, which operates the Point Thomson oil field 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Kaktovik. Oil companies fund much of the infrastructure on the North Slope through royalties they pay to local government.”  

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Three cheers for Commissioner Brune!

January 29, 2019 | Posted in : News

Former public face of Pebble mine could lead the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, January 28, 2019

The former public face of the Pebble mine project is advancing closer to a confirmation vote as head of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, despite a surge of public testimony in opposition. On Friday, the Alaska Senate Resources Committee recommended that the nomination of Jason Brune by Gov. Mike Dunleavy be forwarded to a confirmation vote during a joint session of the Alaska House and Alaska Senate. The recommendation, largely a formality, came after one hour of questions from senators and one hour of public testimony primarily from opponents of his confirmation.

Our Take:   Commissioner Brune is an excellent choice to lead the Department of Environmental Conservation.   Opponents who claim his long resume of promoting responsible resource development will lead him to destroy the environment are just plain wrong.

U.S. Refiners Brace for Venezuelan Supply Crunch
Irina Slav, OilPrice.Com, January 29, 2019

The Trump administration announced new sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, which will significantly reduce its crude oil exports to Gulf Coast refiners, Reuters reports, without adding any details as to the nature of the sanctions. But according to Rystad Energy, ‘’the effects of the sanctions will not be as harsh as the United States expects’’ as PDVSA will be looking to re-route crude exports. New sanctions against Venezuela have been discussed for a while as the situation in the South American country quickly deteriorated after the start of the second presidential term of Nicolas Maduro. There was some skepticism among analysts whether Washington will go the whole nine yards and slap a blanket oil import ban on Venezuelan crude, and the Reuters report seems to confirm it. A total ban on Venezuelan oil imports would push prices at the pump considerably until Gulf Coast refiners replace their deliveries with other sources of heavy crude.


                  Exxon OK’s project to nearly double size of Texas refinery:

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Brown is the new green; A one-year blip on US carbon emissions increase.

January 28, 2019 | Posted in : News

What does the future of Copper mean for Alaska & the world?
Kieran Baker, Alaskanomics, January 26, 2019

According to the latest report in a new copper supply & demand outlook, by Fitch Solutions, global refined copper will grow steadily over the coming years, driven by demand from the power industry and rising electric vehicle (EV) production. Fitch forecasts that global copper demand will increase from 23.6mnt in 2018 to 29 .8mnt by 2027, at 2.6% annual growth. It makes sense that mining companies are searching worldwide for copper projects amid the forecasts that demand for the red metal will significantly outstrip supply from 2020; there are 300kg of copper in an electric bus alone and nine tons per wind-farm megawatt. It seems like brown is becoming the new green.

New technology boosts Alaska oil resources: Fuel for Thought
Tim Bradner, S & P Global Platts, January 28, 2019

Rapid technology advances are allowing explorers and producers in Alaska to add hundreds of millions of barrels of new resources to portfolios at a cost competitive with finding oil in the Lower 48 states. Chief among the technologies being used are advanced 3-D seismic and new data processing techniques, to define and map oil deposits in geological formations that have long been known but were thought to be unproductive. Companies are also using advances in horizontal drilling techniques to reach deposits. In the last two years, over 1.5 billion barrels of recoverable oil has been found mainly in the west central North Slope and northeast National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, areas companies have explored for years.

India’s 2018 thermal coal imports grew at fastest pace in four years: sources
Sudarshan Varadhan, Reuters, January 25, 2019

Coal is among the top five commodities imported by India, one of the world’s largest consumers of coal, and the rise in imports of the fuel after two consecutive years of decline adds to its trade deficit. That trade gap has been hurting the valuation of the rupee, the worst performing major Asian currency in 2018. Thermal coal imports jumped 19 percent to 171.85 million tons in 2018, marking the fastest pace of growth since 2014, according to data from American Fuels & Natural Resources, a Dubai-based trader of U.S.-origin coal. Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie also said imports grew at their fastest pace since 2014, to 164 million tons in 2018.

From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:

EIA CONFIRMS US EMISSIONS HIKE LAST YEAR: The Energy Information Administration confirmed Monday that U.S. carbon emissions rose in 2018, although the agency expects that to be a one-year blip.

The EIA said emissions increased 2.8 percent in 2018 — the largest year-to-year rise since 2010. But the agency said emissions will decline again in 2019 and 2020.

The report comes after the Rhodium Group earlier this month projected that U.S. carbon emissions rose 3.4 percent in 2018 after three years of decline, even as a record number of coal plants retired.

The Rhodium Group found U.S. emissions’ increases in all major sectors: electricity, transportation, buildings, and industrial.

What’s driving the increase: It attributed higher emissions from last year to an unusually hot summer and cold winter, and increased manufacturing activity.

The EIA report, likewise, said weather conditions and “continued economic growth” were the primary drivers of higher energy consumption, and emissions.

Emissions from natural gas, a common home-heating fuel, increased 10 percent.

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