AGDC seeks tax break. Emissions from indoor weed growing in Anchorage.

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The U.S. Lost 120,000 Oil & Gas Jobs In 2020
Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPrice.Com, March 10, 2021

Around 120,000 jobs were lost in the U.S. oil and gas industry last year due to the crash in oil demand and prices and subsequent massive downsizing of staffing levels, Rystad Energy said in a new analysis this week.

The United States, the third-biggest employer in the oil and gas sector globally, saw the number of jobs in the industry decline to around 960,000 last year, down from approximately 1,080,000 employees in 2019. Due to the still ongoing downturn and the rollover effect into 2021, the number of oil and gas workers in the United States could drop to 950,000, the energy research company said.

“The toll in the US was more devastating, estimated at 11.1%, thereby faring worse than its European peers and Russia,” Rystad Energy said.  

Companies in the industry cut thousands of jobs in the United States and globally last year. The biggest oil firms cut thousands of jobs each, with BP slashing 10,000 jobs or 15 percent of its workforce, Shell cutting up to 9,000 jobs, and Exxon cutting 14,000 jobs, including 1,900 in the United States. These are just a few examples.

The oilfield services providers also slashed staffing levels as drilling activity—especially in the U.S. shale patch—plunged.


Gas line developer presses for property tax break
Linda F. Hersey, Fairbanks Daily News Miner, March 10, 2021

Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) is looking for a break on property taxes.

Frank Richards, president of AGDC, told lawmakers on Tuesday that he is looking for “an opportunity to talk about alternatives on property tax issues,” as he advances the $38.7 billion gasline project. 

Property taxes that are higher than in other parts of the world have been identified in the past as “barriers” to a project that promises to bring natural gas to Fairbanks but has yet to break ground. 

Asked to comment on Richards’ statement Tuesday, Rep. Grier Hopkins said: “Our current oil and gas property tax system has worked well. I would need to see a lot of information and have a thorough understanding (of the issue) before reducing tax revenues for the gas line.”

After Richards’ presentation, Hopkins, a Fairbanks Democrat, said: “I could not be more excited to see a potential gas line coming to Fairbanks. We need to make sure Fairbanks is part of the discussions.”

The first phase of the AGDC project, estimated at $5.9 billion, would bring natural gas to Fairbanks from the Northern Point Thomson gas field. Richards has asserted in public meetings that federal funds would be needed to cover up to 75 percent of costs, with the remaining 25 percent coming from an unidentified private partner or partners. Richards suggested Tuesday that federal funds could come from stimulus dollars. 

He also noted that the company has been able to bring down the total cost of the project by $8 billion to $38.7 billion and would continue to look for savings. “There has been good progress in terms of economic viability,” he told lawmakers. 

While Richards emphasized the importance of “private strategic partners,” he has not identified any organizations with which AGDC is working. In February, the company disclosed it was discussing an agreement with an undisclosed potential partner, but no further information was provided.

Richards was silent Tuesday on whether AGDC secured any private partners, though he stressed the importance of such an alliance during his presentation to the House Commerce, Community and Economic Development Committee. 

Richards continued to emphasize the need to move the project into the private sector.


HighGold Mining reaches ‘turning point’ at Alaska project after Northeast Offset (NEO) target drilling
Giles Gwinnett, Proactive, March 10, 2021

HighGold Mining Inc (CVE:HIGH) (OTCQX:HGGOF) said drilling at its Northeast Offset (NEO) target at its flagship Johnson Tract project in Alaska, had shown the area to be a distinct mineralized zone separate for the JT deposit.  

Wednesday’s reported assays hail from two holes, which showed, significantly new VMS-style mineralization in one, with highlights including 7.8 meters (m) at 6.1% zinc, 1.6% lead, 0.2% copper, 0.7 g/t gold and 36 g/t silver. 

HighGold added that it now recognized that the mineralization is far more widespread between the JT deposit and the NEO target within the prospective Dacite Tuff stratigraphy than had been previously understood.

“These advancements in our understanding of the Johnson Tract geology represent a significant turning point for the project as they highlight the potential for mineralization anywhere within the key Dacite Tuff host stratigraphy northeast of the JT Deposit,” said the company’s CEO Darwin Green.


Republicans put procedural delay on Haaland’s nomination
Rachel Frazin, The Hill, March 9, 2021

Two GOP Senators have put holds on Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to be Interior Secretary, putting up a procedural hurdle that will delay the New Mexico Democrat’s final confirmation vote.

Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) said they will force debate on Haaland’s nomination, which would last for 30 hours.

Despite the delay, Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat, is still expected to be confirmed since she’ll need just a simple majority to eventually get to the floor.

Related:               Biden’s pick for Interior delayed over oil and gas opposition


Breaking down the climate toll of growing weed indoors
Ben Geman, Axios, March 10, 2021

Energy-intensive indoor pot growth has become a sizable source of greenhouse gas emissions, but there are ways to lessen the environmental burden, new research finds.

Driving the news: The paper in Nature Sustainability provides a full and granular “lifecycle” accounting of the many ways indoor growth produces carbon emissions.

Why it matters: This cultivation is rising thanks to states including California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and others legalizing recreational sales.

  • “This industry is developing and expanding very quickly without consideration for the environment,” Colorado State University researchers said in a summary at The Conversation.
  • The findings can inform policymaking in states with legal weed or ones considering it, they said.

How it works: The biggest source of emissions is energy needed for sophisticated indoor air management to grow specialized crops at the right temperature and humidity.

  • Other big ones include electricity needed for high intensity grow lights, use of CO2 to enhance plant growth, and transportation of various supplies.

The intrigue: The authors find lots of regional variation in modeled emissions as they explored the natural gas and electricity needed for cultivation.

  • That’s due to differing climates and regional differences in how much clean energy is used for power production.
  • “Areas such as the Mountain West and Midwestern United States are especially intensive for growing cannabis indoors,” they find.

Of note: The regional data in the paper’s modeling does not reflect the legal status of pot in the different areas.

Threat level: Comparing indoor cultivation to other industrial sectors in Colorado helps provide a sense of scale.

  • Colorado State associate professor Jason Quinn said it creates about 2.6 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually.
  • “This is similar to coal mining and waste management sectors that are 1.8 and 4.2 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually,” the paper’s co-author told Axios.
  • “We’ve estimated that indoor cannabis is responsible for about 1.7% of the state’s annual greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Quick take: None of this is a civilizational threat! But rising sources of emissions are important at a time when scientists warn that steep emissions cuts are needed.

What’s next: Changes to growing practices can reduce emissions, the paper notes, including…

  • Making decisions based on geography and better engineering of indoor farms.
  • Moving to greenhouses or outdoor growing, which can vastly curb emissions but can also bring their own environmental and security problems.

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