73% say: natural gas & oil around for decades. Reducing concrete’s footprint.

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News of the Day:

Poll: U.S. Voters Recognize Future Role Of Natural Gas And Oil
Mark Green, API Blog, April 21, 2021

Soon after the 2020 election we noted that results showed U.S. voters are mostly moderate and practical and want sensible solutions to key issues facing the nation, which Democratic pollster Mark Penn wrote is driven by common sense over ideology. Americans’ views on energy certainly fit that construct.

New polling by Morning Consult underscores the point and provides important context for Washington policymakers as they debate the twin issues of energy and climate. Top results from nearly 2,000 registered voters, surveyed on how they see the future of energy:

  • 59% believe the world will use more energy in 2050 than it does now. Majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans believe more energy will be needed to heat and cool buildings, run electrical appliances, travel, grow crops and more.
  • 73% agree that natural gas and oil will be part of the energy mix for decades to come and should be included in the country’s energy policies. Majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans agree.
  • 73% believe the natural gas and oil industry should be allowed to participate when governments are considering energy and environmental policies. Again, Democrats, Independents and Republicans agree.
  • 55% believe private-sector scientists and experts will do better than the government in solving the issue of climate change. Just 22% believe the government will do a better job than the private sector.

Again, these solid, bipartisan views should guide the national public policy debate. We believe the poll reflects the way Americans value our country’s modern standard of living, a growing economy, expanding opportunity and keeping the nation’s energy security strong.

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It’s reasonable for oil prices to be $60 to $75 in a year’s time, says oil expert Dan Yergin
Oil & Gas 360, April 20, 2021

Demand and supply pressures will offset each other in the oil market, and it’s reasonable to expect prices to remain in its current range in one year’s time as countries recover from the coronavirus crisis, said oil expert Dan Yergin.

“If we really do have the rest of the world recover, I think it’s reasonable to think that oil would be in that $60 to $75 range,” the vice chairman of IHS Markit said.

“That’s what the markets are telling us as the U.S. recovers, and China has already recovered,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.

Brent crude futures gained 1.33% on Tuesday afternoon in Asia to trade at $67.94, while U.S. crude futures rose 1.28% to $64.19.

While one trader sees prices potentially spiking to $100, Yergin’s perspective is that a lot of supply is still offline, and can meet a surge in demand as global economies recover.

“There’s still a big surplus of oil that has to be brought back into the market,” he said, noting that OPEC and its allies helped to lift prices by cutting production by nearly 10 million barrels per day.

“There’ll be offsetting pressures, and more supply would come in and we’d start to see the U.S. coming back into production again,” he said.

But Yergin acknowledged that it’s difficult to predict where prices will be and said Europe’s recovery hangs in the balance.

“The U.S. is headed into a hyper economic recovery right now, China has a very strong recovery and that will push up demand,” he said.

“The biggest uncertainty now is actually hanging over Europe and when Europe will be able to get out of its lockdown and start growing again,” he said.

Europe’s Covid vaccine rollout has been slow to progress, and many Covid restrictions remain in place. The emergence of a more contagious variant has pushed the continent’s Covid-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.


Rejecting LNG as a marine fuel ‘is not yet feasible’
Hwee Hwee Tan, Lloyd’s List, April 21, 2021

Representatives across shipping rebut World Bank’s take on liquefied natural gas bunkering. Technologies are available to bolster LNG’s carbon credentials and curb methane slip risks they counter-argue, while highlighting the risks of not acting sooner than later to switch to cleaner burning alternatives.

Shipping cannot afford to wait for a perfect solution to address climate change issues and meet emission targets, says BHP chief commercial officer.

A WORLD Bank call to dial back investments on the marine use of liquefied natural gas — a fuel battling increasing doubts regarding its green credentials — has been dismissed by some industry leaders.

Panellists at the opening of Singapore Maritime Week representing owners, charterers and shipbuilders support switching to LNG as one plausible, interim solution to a transition to a low-carbon transition, sooner rather than later.

The World Bank last week called on authorities worldwide to curtail existing and avoid new public policy support for LNG bunkering, questioning its real environmental benefit and added costs.

BHP chief executive Vandita Pant counter-argued that the maritime industry risk evolving into “a laggard” if it chose not to act first with LNG and other options on the table and wait for “a perfect solution to come”.

The mining giant has awarded time charters for the world’s first LNG-fueled newcastlemax bulkers to Eastern Pacific Shipping.

LNG is nonetheless, only one alternative fuel that BHP hopes to embrace in its shipping operation.

BHP has unveiled last week its first trial use of sustainably sourced biofuel on an ocean-going bulker.

As a leading charterer of dry bulk tonnage however, the mining firm chose to “try all different things” rather than sitting still, starting first with those that are “commercial and scalable” at present, said Ms Pant.

This is a stance that MISC, Malaysia’s leading shipping line, took when it first made a calculated bet through its AET Tankers subsidiary to commission the construction of LNG-fueled aframax tankers in 2017.

Back then, one debate that contributed to World Bank’s call last week, had already held back on building fleet to run on the fossil fuel.

Some researchers have cautioned against potential slips of unburned methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, from the LNG value chain.

Methane can cause 86 times more warming than CO2 over a 20-year period, and 36 times more warming in 100 years.

Methane emissions accounted for around just 0.5% of international shipping emissions in 2018, according to the fourth IMO GHG study. But they also grew by more than 150% from 2012 to 2018, as the use of LNG and dual-fuel engines increased too.

MISC chief executive Yee Yang Chien described the fleet building plan, which was subsequently expanded, as “a high-risk bet” considering too that LNG bunkering infrastructure was “sorely lacking”.

But MISC went on to land charters for these vessels and other shipowners soon followed suit.

Nearly 16% of new buildings on order — excluding LNG carriers — will be powered by LNG, Mr Yee noted, quoting one industry estimate.

What mattered more to the MISC chief, as he pointed out, is that the shipping line has not dragged on its feet to take the first step towards decarbonization.

For all its unresolved methane concerns, the marine use of LNG still holds promise in reducing carbon dioxide emitted from powering ships with conventional fossil fuels. 

A recent study by pro-LNG group SEA/LNG found that the fuel can reduce lifecycle emissions, which include all those from the fuel’s production to its final consumption by the ship, by up to 23%.

LNG can also nearly eradicate emissions of black carbon, a much shorter lived but also much more warming pollutant than CO2. Black carbon accounted for around 7% of international shipping emissions in 2018, according to the IMO’s fourth GHG study.

Nonetheless, the World Bank warned that overall the temporary use of LNG in shipping would offer “moderate GHG benefits to GHG disbenefits”.

Simon Kuik, who heads up research at Singapore’s leading yard group, Sembcorp Marine held that LNG boasts a “well-developed” supply chain, far more advanced compared to those for marine ammonia and hydrogen.

Ship-to-ship LNG bunkering for ocean-going tonnage is now possible at two key bunkering hubs, Singapore and Rotterdam, and also in the US Gulf of Mexico.

Mr Kuik highlighted the use of carbon capture, which has bolstered LNG green credential in the power generation sector.

Maritime players have already embarked on research for carbon storage systems on board vessels.

Ms Pant separately argued that policy makers should not “underestimate” how far and fast the industry would go to advance technology tackling methane concerns.

The carriers BHP has agreed to charter in from EPS will come equipped with engines capable of capping methane slippage to negligible levels, she said.

Charterers and tonnage providers have looked beyond LNG and invested on developing ammonia as one among next-generation marine fuels.

Mr Yee said that MISC is aiming for an incremental approach that it has taken with LNG for other future fuels.

The idea is to “break down the larger problem to smaller parts” so “we can afford to stomach the risks of failure”, he said.

MISC is a founding partner of a now six-party initiative aimed at developing an eco-system backing up the supply of ammonia as a marine fuel.

One initial goal set for this collaboration is to demonstrate it is feasibility to run an ammonia-fueled vessel within the next five years.

The intent is to subsequently promote wider application by looking at retrofitting existing vessels to run on ammonia, added Mr Yee.


Projects aimed at mitigating concrete’s carbon footprint receive $7.5mln award
Mining.Com, April 21, 2021

Two projects, one Canadian and one American, aimed at mitigating the carbon footprint of concrete were awarded $7.5 million each after being selected as the winners of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, a five-year competition organized by nonprofit organization Xprize. 

The American winner

One of the projects is called CarbonBuilt and it was developed by researchers at UCLA. The objective of this undertaking was to take carbon dioxide emissions directly from coal-fired power plants and other industrial facilities — emissions that would otherwise go into the atmosphere — and infuse them into a new type of concrete the team invented.

According to the group, as it hardens and gains strength, the specially formulated concrete permanently absorbs and traps the greenhouse gas.

Through extensive research at UCLA and testing at the Integrated Test Center, a facility in Wyoming, the researchers demonstrated that their process reduced the carbon footprint of concrete by more than 50% while producing concrete that was just as strong and durable as the traditional material.

Inspired by seashells, which are made of calcium carbonate – nature’s original cementation agent -, the team led by Gaurav Sant developed a new formula for cement, which is the binding agent in concrete. They used hydrated lime, or portlandite, which can absorb CO2 quickly, to replace traditional calcium silicate cement, known as ordinary portland cement. Then, they created a method in which carbon dioxide taken directly from flue gas is quickly absorbed by portlandite as the concrete hardens.

In addition to allowing for the absorption of three-quarters of a pound of carbon dioxide per block, CarbonBuilt’s Reversa process proved that it is possible to reduce the amount of ordinary portland cement needed to produce concrete by between 60% and 90%. The process also occurs at ordinary temperatures and pressures. 

As a result, the Reversa mechanism is said to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete by more than 50% while generating a product that is just as strong and durable as the traditional material.

The Canadian winner

The other half of the Xprize was awarded to Canada’s clean-tech company CarbonCure, whose project was focused on improving existing technologies and developing new solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete industry.

CarbonCure Technologies’ system consists of injecting a precise dosage of CO2 into a concrete plant’s reclaimer system, which contains the water used to wash out concrete trucks and mixers. The carbon dioxide is converted to a permanently embedded mineral with strength-enhancing properties which can then be incorporated into new concrete mixes. 

By reducing the amount of new freshwater, solid waste disposal and cement required, the team was able to reduce the material costs and increase profitability for concrete producers. 

The CO2 employed in this process is sourced from industrial emitters. According to CarbonCure, established gas suppliers collect, purify and distribute the gas, which is later on stored at concrete plants in pressurized tanks that are refilled regularly by suppliers.

“The use of CO2 in concrete is expected to become a $400 billion market opportunity so solutions like CarbonCure’s are both very timely to respond to climate targets and represent an attractive economic opportunity for heavy industry,” the Nova Scotia-based firm said in a media statement. “To date, producers have supplied nearly 10 million cubic yards of CarbonCure concrete to a wide range of project types. The company is on a mission to reduce embodied carbon in the built environment by 500 million tons annually by 2030.”


Sen. President Micciche Addresses Sen. Reinbold’s Removal As Committee Chair
Anthony Moore, KSRM, April 20, 2021

The Alaska State Senate voted Monday on the Senate Floor to remove Sen. Lora Reinbold as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The final vote was 17 to 1 with the lone no vote being from Sen. Reinbold. The vote comes after the Committee on Committees Report earlier recommended to remove the Eagle River Republican Senator as the committee chair.

Senate President Peter Micciche spoke to KSRM addressing what happened on the senate floor Monday, “So to be perfectly clear, this has nothing to do with masks or COVID policy. Throughout the session, the vast majority of caucus members have expressed concern about the way committees are run. About the lack of respect for others in the building, including members, staff, and testifiers. Until today, senate leadership has been resistant to making any changes. We believed that we could improve the situation through internal dialogue and discussion. The majority of the caucus finally, however, recently made it clear that the status quo could not continue and that something has to be done. In the end, every other senator in the senate agreed to the most modest compassionate adjustment possible to the committee assignments. The senator from District G is still a full valued member of the senate majority with her office and staff intact. We’re proud to have her on our team, but the decorum and the behavior has to change.

Micciche says that Reinbold is still a valued member of the Senate Majority, “For baseball fans, sometimes a star pitcher gets pulled from a game temporarily and the team looks forward to a time when the player is back on the mound. Essentially that’s where we’re at as a team. This is all up to Senator Reinbold. We hope this is a temporary situation that everyone back in the positions they held when we started this caucus working well together as a cohesive team.

As a result of Reinbold being removed as Senate Judiciary Committee chair, she will be replaced by Republican Sen. Roger Holland.


The finance sector links arms on climate
Ben Geman, Axios, April 21, 2021

A big, UN-backed umbrella group of banks, asset managers, investors and insurers launched Wednesday to boost private clean tech finance and press polluting industries that use their services to cut emissions.

Why it matters: The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) is the broadest financial industry effort yet on climate change.

  • The group’s 160-plus members are responsible for over $70 trillion in assets, organizers said.
  • “GFANZ will work to mobilize the trillions of dollars necessary to build a global zero emissions economy and deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement,” the announcement states.

The big picture: It coordinates various industry initiatives and seeks to add methodological rigor to pledges to decarbonize lending portfolios and other practices.

  • It’s led by Mark Carney, a UN climate ambassador and climate finance advisor to the U.K., which hosts a big UN climate summit late this year.
  • Biden administration officials support the effort that arrives just ahead of this week’s White House climate summit.
  • Participants include Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Munich Re, the Zurich Insurance group and many others.

How it works: The new group combines some existing financial sector initiatives and adds new efforts.

  • Today brought simultaneous rollout of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance of 43 banks from 23 countries.
  • GFANZ will provide “strategic coordination” across financial sectors to “accelerate the transition to a net zero economy” it states.
  • Signatories must set “set science-aligned” interim and long-term goals for net zero emissions by 2050.

The banks involved agree to ensure emissions from their lending and investment portfolios are on a “pathway” to net zero by 2050, with interim targets beginning no later than 2030.

The banks will especially focus on the most emissions-intensive industries in their portfolios, like oil-and-gas, aluminum, cement, power and others.

What they’re saying: Several environmentalists were critical of GFANZ and the banking portion in particular this morning, noting the voluntary efforts don’t do nearly enough to move finance away from fossil fuels.

  • “All that glitters is not gold. What seems at first glance to be quite ambitious, actually lacks the urgency and ambition that the climate crisis demands,” said Becky Jarvis of the advocacy group Bank On Our Future in a statement.
  • “Net-zero means fossil fuel phase out, a term which this alliance seems to be allergic to,” Jarvis said.
  • Jeanne Martin of the sustainableinvestment advocacy group ShareAction said net zero plans aren’t credible without setting dates to end financing for fossil fuels and deforestation. “It is time for regulators to step in to prevent financial and planetary instability,” Martin said.