88 Energy Gains Acreage on Alaska’s North Slope

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Today’s Key Takeaways: North Slope Project Leonis area promising.  Exxon frack efforts can double shale oil.  Mountain Valley Pipeline would have advanced “with or without” debt ceiling bill.  Decarbonization goals won’t happen without mining and permitting reform.  Senate ayes and nays on debt ceiling. 


88 Energy Awarded Project Leonis Acreage on Alaska’s North Slope
Journal of Petroleum Technology, June 1, 2023

The acreage comprises 10 leases covering approximately 25,430 contiguous acres.

88 Energy Limited subsidiary Captivate Energy Alaska was awarded notices from the Alaskan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Oil and Gas Division, covering the entire Project Leonis lease area. In late 2022, Captivate Energy Alaska was declared the highest bidder for select acreage offered as part of the North Slope Areawide 2022 Oil and Gas lease sale. The Project Leonis acreage comprises 10 leases covering approximately 25,430 contiguous acres.

Ashley Gilbert, 88 Energy managing director, said, “Project Leonis benefits from proximity to infrastructure and services at Prudhoe Bay and Deadhorse, as well as a historical well that indicated oil shows and calculated pay in the Upper Schrader Bluff (USB) zone of interest. Importantly, the lease area is covered by an existing 3D data suite, allowing us to undertake detailed, informed analysis to properly understand the exploration opportunity. Our team will now be busy utilizing a suite of modern analysis techniques to further advance the project.”

The Project Leonis lease area is fully covered by the Storms 3D seismic data suite and contains the historical exploration well, Hemi Springs Unit #3, drilled by ARCO in 1985. Historical drilling targeted the deep Kuparuk and Ivishak reservoirs, the main producing intervals in the giant northern fields at that time. Review of the Hemi Springs Unit #3 well indicated over 200 ft of low-resistivity bypassed log pay within the USB reservoir, with good porosity and oil shows evident over this interval. Nearby oil fields—Orion, Polaris, West Sak, and Milne Point—demonstrate successful development of the USB reservoir.

Further analysis will determine the future potential of the acreage and define a possible exploration program and timeline for the project.


Exxon Bets New Ways to Frack Can Double Oil Pumped From Shale Wells
David Wethe, Bloomberg, June 1, 2023

Exxon Mobil Corp. is betting that a better way to frack will double the amount of oil it can pump from shale fields.

“There’s just a lot of oil being left in the ground,” Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods said Thursday at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions conference. “Fracking’s been around for a really long time, but the science of fracking is not well understood.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of blasting water, sand and chemicals underground to break apart rock and keep it propped open for oil to flow out. Though the technology gave rise to the US shale boom, only about 10% of the oil in a reservoir is recovered using current techniques. Better drilling and fracking methods may prove critical as output growth from shale fields slows. 

Exxon is working on two specific areas to improve fracking, Woods said. It wants to be able to frack more precisely along the well so that more oil-soaked rock is getting drained. It also wants to keep the cracks open longer to boost the flow of oil. Sand is the primary method today to prevent fractures from closing up.

“That in my mind is where the first wave of technology will come into that field,” Woods said. “We think we’ve got some promising technologies to employ there that will significantly improve our recovery.”


White House: Pipeline would have advanced without debt deal
Carlos Anchondo, Energywire, May 31, 2023

Biden administration support for the Mountain Valley pipeline is spurring pushback from environmental groups.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that the Mountain Valley pipeline would have advanced “with or without” the debt ceiling bill, further irritating opponents of the natural gas project.

The pipeline “was going to move forward with or without this bill. … That is just fact,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing.

Jean-Pierre was responding to a question about opposition from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to provisions in the legislation that would green-light completion of the pipeline, which would run from West Virginia to southern Virginia. Congress needs to address the debt ceiling by June 5 in order to avoid a default, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

At the briefing, Jean-Pierre did not fully detail the pipeline’s current status, although Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm backed the project prior to the debt deal, and the administration recently approved two permits for the pipeline to run through 3.5 miles of a national forest.

“The bill doesn’t really do much as it relates to that, to that project, to be quite honest. Instead, it preserves the largest investment in climate protection that we have seen in history, under this administration,” Jean-Pierre said.

If the bill is enacted, the Army Corps of Engineers would need to issue the permit within 21 days. The pipeline also would no longer need the new water certification from West Virginia to complete its federal approvals and restart construction, according to a congressional aide familiar with the legislation.

Natalie Cox, a spokesperson for the Mountain Valley project, said Tuesday that developers “look forward to completing this important infrastructure project by the end of 2023 and flowing domestic natural gas this winter for the benefits of reliability and affordability in the form of lower natural gas prices for consumers.”


Decarbonization ambitions ignite debate over mining, permitting
Robert Zullo, Alaska Beacon, May 31, 2023

 The decarbonized, electrified future envisioned by the Biden administration, state governments, automakers, utility companies and corporate sustainability goals depends to a huge degree on minerals and metals.

Lots more lithium will be needed for car and truck batteries, as well as the big banks of batteries that are increasingly popping onto the electric grid to balance the intermittency of wind and solar power. Those batteries, as well as wind turbines and solar panels, also need copper, cobalt, nickel, zinc and “rare earth” elements used in electric car motors and other clean technologies, among other materials.

The problem is that not enough of those materials are mined in the United States or other friendly countries to meet the projected demands of a decarbonizing nation. At present, China dominates the market for most battery raw materials, for example, which “presents geopolitical and environmental risks,” per a presentation on May 10 by S&P Global on challenges facing the global battery sector.

” This is part of what the legislative environment is gearing up to help us counter,” said Graham Evans, an S&P Global research director focused on auto supply chain and technology. “We don’t want to be too heavily reliant on any one country.”

But even as new federal legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure law created big incentives for renewable power, electric vehicles and production tax credits for critical minerals, mining operations under development in NevadaNorth CarolinaMinnesota and Arizona, among other locations, haven’t exactly been met with open arms.

And mining organizations and renewable trade groups say the long permitting timelines and litigation delays for mining projects are incompatible with the urgent demand for materials needed to decarbonize the economy.

‘You need the natural resources’ 

That dynamic has in part led to some clean energy groups joining with traditional industryfossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress in a push for permitting reform that’s emerged as part of the deal between President Joe Biden and Congressional Republicans to raise the debt limit that’s currently being debated in Washington. In the wake of a controversial federal court decision involving an Arizona copper mine project, there’s also separate bipartisan legislation in the Senate to clarify rules around where mining-support activities like waste or processing can take place on federal land.

“You need the supply chains, you need the natural resources. … We don’t do that unless we do more domestic production,” said Harrison Godfrey, managing director at Advanced Energy United, a clean energy trade group.



SENATE AYES AND NAYS EMERGE AHEAD OF DEBT CEILING VOTE: A number of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans in the Senate announced their opposition to the White House-McCarthy debt deal, mirroring the fault lines of yesterday’s 314-117 House vote.

Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Jeff Merkley of Oregon both announced yesterday they will vote against, saying their consciences wouldn’t allow it.

On the other side, freshman Sen. Eric Schmitt of Missouri announced this morning that he will vote against the legislation, as has Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

MVP the key for Dems: Merkley called the Mountain Valley Pipeline an “an assault against a sustainable planet” and complained of the language cutting the Fourth Circuit, which has delivered a number of court rulings against the pipeline, out of the picture by moving any litigation to the D.C. Circuit.

“For Congress to—by law—move a court case from one jurisdiction to another, to provide a special favor to a powerful corporation, is fundamentally corrupt. This is a line we should never cross,” he said.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia will be a “yes,” his office said yesterday, despite his opposition to the MVP language being in the deal.

Schumer against amendments: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer dismissed the notion of amending the debt deal at all yesterday so as to avoid having to send it back to the House, giving less hope to supporters of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine’s attempt to strip the MVP out of the bill.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy