AK Budget Basics. Normalcy returning to oil & gas. Pebble: Policy, Procedure, Precedent.

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News of the Day:

A Closer Look at Alaska’s FY22 Budget Proposal
Ed King, King Economics, December 16, 2020

Locating the $294.6 million cuts

Let’s start from the beginning. Where are those cuts in the budget? From the fiscal summary, we can pin that down to four sources.

  • $200.6 million in agency operations
  • $6.4 million in statewide items
  • $54.2 million in capital projects
  • $43.3 million in legislative proposals

It’s easiest to take these in reverse order. Let’s dig a little deeper.


Normalcy Returning to Natural Gas and Oil Markets
Dean Foreman, API Energy Blog, December 17, 2020

Celebrating normalcy long has marked Americans’ emergence from a variety of national crises. It’s the same with COVID-19. As we emerge from the pandemic, we dearly want to celebrate a return to normal. Thankfully, as the economy recovers, natural gas and oil are doing their part.  

API’s new Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) and quarterly Industry Outlook show our oil industry’s fortitude and resiliency through an unprecedented period.

In November, API’s primary data on U.S. petroleum markets showed that total U.S. petroleum demand returned to 19.1 million barrels per day (mb/d) and back to the five-year range – a measure of normalcy – propelled by higher demand for diesel, jet fuel and other oils (that is, naphtha and gasoil going into refining and petrochemicals).

Through the U.S. energy revolution, large productivity gains have become a “new normal” for the industry, and as a result U.S. supplies of crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) combined to rise by 0.3 mb/d in November despite historically low numbers of new wells being drilled. Meanwhile, the U.S. sustained its status as a petroleum net exporter, as inventories grew, and prices remained historically low. 

Here are the highlights from this month’s MSR, again, based on November data:

  • Total U.S. petroleum demand returned to 19.1 mb/d and the five-year range.
  • Growing U.S. production of crude oil (11.1 mb/d) and NGLs (4.9 mb/d).
  • Refinery throughput (14.4 mb/d, 77.2% capacity utilization) rose following three consecutive monthly declines.
  • With the lowest imports in 29 years, the U.S. was a petroleum net exporter for a fifth consecutive month.
  • Inventories of crude oil and total petroleum were at their highest levels for the month of November.


Northern Dynasty to challenge Pebble permit rejection next month
Mining.Com, December 17, 2020

Northern Dynasty (TSX: NDM; NYSE: NAK) will in January submit its request for an appeal of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE’s) negative record of decision (RoD) for its Alaska’s Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum-silver project.

The company said it would argue that the USACE’s mitigation requirements for Pebble were contrary to policy and precedent in Alaska and that the agency’s rejection of the mining firm’s compensation mitigation plan (CMP) was procedurally and substantively invalid.


Meet the N.C. ‘star’ Biden could tap to lead EPA
Kevin Bogardus, E & E News, December 16, 2020

The top environmental regulator in North Carolina has been thrust into the national spotlight.

Michael Regan, who has been secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality since 2017, is under consideration for EPA administrator by President-elect Joe Biden’s team.

Just 44 years old, the North Carolina native has years of experience in environmental policy and has impressed several in government and green circles from his home state.

Bill Ross, who led the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources from 2001 to 2009, told E&E News that Regan “would do a terrific job as EPA administrator” and is “a star” in Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) Cabinet.

“I think he has done a good job of leading a department that was low on morale and had its budget cut and turned it around,” said Ross, now counsel at law firm Brooks Pierce. “I admire his work ethic and on how he reaches out to different communities and audiences who are affected by the work of DEQ in North Carolina.”

Regan has not always sided with environmental groups.  He signed off on a water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast pipeline, which was opposed by Appalachian Voices and other green organizations.


Lloyd’s of London Plans to Exit Fossil-Fuel Insurance by 2030
Alastair Marsh, Bloomberg Green, December 17, 2020

Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance market, said it’s joining efforts to support the pivot to a lower carbon economy and set out a timetable to phase out coverage for some of the most polluting industries.

Lloyd’s said Wednesday it will end investment in thermal coal-fired power plants, thermal coal mines, oil sands and new Arctic energy exploration activities. It also will ask the more than 50 so-called managing agents that oversee insurance syndicates at the more than 300-year-old marketplace to stop insuring or investing in the same areas by January 2030.