AK Judge Puts ANWR Work on Ice.

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Today’s Key Takeaways: Federal judge doubles down on suspending ANWR survey work.  Australia, Woodside, Santos double down on oil and gas exploration.  Qatar doubles down on LNG.  Texas doubles down on battery capacity.  


Federal judge confirms decision that stopped oil work in Alaska’s Arctic refuge
James Brooks, Alaska Beacon, February 23, 2024

A federal judge in Anchorage has confirmed her decision to uphold the suspension of oil and gas survey work in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In a 19-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason declined to reconsider a 2023 ruling against the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which won oil leases in the refuge during a January 2021 sale and sued the Biden administration after it suspended those leases.

The Biden administration subsequently canceled the leases altogether, and AIDEA is challenging that decision in a separate lawsuit.

“Today’s court decision in Alaska is a small part, not the conclusion, in defending the rights of Alaskans and AIDEA to our ANWR leases. We will continue to fight against the wrongful cancelation of our leases,” said Randy Ruaro, executive director of AIDEA, by email.


Australia Looks To Bolster Oil and Gas Industry Despite Climate Pledges
Felicity Bradstock, OilPrice.Com, February 25, 2024

  • Woodside and Santos, Australia’s major energy players, are planning significant expansion of oil and gas exploration activities, aiming to address energy shortages and unlock new reserves.
  • Environmentalists criticise Woodside for investing in contentious carbon offsets while pursuing fossil fuel exploration, leading to accusations of greenwashing.
  • Legal battles, such as the dismissal of a lawsuit against Santos’s gas pipeline project, and potential mergers, like the discussed Woodside-Santos merger, add layers of complexity to Australia’s oil and gas landscape.

Australia has big plans for its oil and gas industry, despite calls from environmentalists to reduce its fossil fuel output. The country’s biggest company, Woodside, is planning to expand its exploration activities in response to the growing energy demand from the Asian market, despite having made ambitious climate pledges in recent years. 

Santos also plans to go ahead with a major gas pipeline, following the dismissal of a lawsuit from Tiwi Islanders in opposition to the project. And, following a year of several major U.S. megamergers, it seems Australia could be following suit as companies discuss the potential consolidation of its oil and gas assets. 

Woodside, Australia’s largest oil and gas producer, is continuing to pursue oil and gas exploration activities in a bid to develop the country’s fossil fuel industry while demand remains high. 

This news came following the company’s announcement of far-reaching emissions reduction targets that appear to be at odds with new exploration. Woodside announced that it had cut emissions from operations and generating the electricity it uses by 11 percent in 2022, compared to the average between 2016 and 2020. Like many other oil and gas majors, it aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the mid-century. 


Qatar Doubles Down on Global Gas Bet
Stephen Stapczynski, Bloomberg, February 26, 2024

The tiny Persian Gulf nation is adding yet more LNG capacity on the assumption demand will keep climbing.

Qatar is unwavering in its view that the world isn’t investing enough in natural gas. And the tiny Middle Eastern nation is trying to fix that.

State-owned QatarEnergy said Sunday it will develop a 16 million-ton-a-year LNG export project by the end of the decade. That’s on top of its previously announced record-breaking expansion plans.

Altogether, the Gulf state will boost shipments of liquefied natural gas by more than 80% by 2030.

The move illustrates the nation’s conviction that demand for gas, especially in Asia, will continue rising even as the world shifts to renewables. That’s at odds with organizations such as the International Energy Agency, which sees global consumption peaking this decade.

Qatar is willing to take the risk.


Texas will add more grid batteries than any other state in 2024
Julian Specter, Canary Media, February 26, 2024

With cheap land and a competitive market irresistible to energy storage developers, the Lone Star State will even overtake California in battery deployments this year.

California and Texas have a new clean-energy superlative to compete over: who’s got the most grid batteries.

Last year, Texas overtook California in large-scale solar power capacity.  When huge amounts of solar power rush onto the grid, batteries tend to follow.  Now, Texas is building more grid batteries than California, the longtime undisputed leader in clean energy storage.  

Developers are expected to complete 6.4 gigawatts of new grid battery capacity in Texas this year, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. That’s more than double the 5.6 gigawatts of battery capacity it ended 2023 with. It’s also as much battery capacity as the entire United States built last year, which was a record year for the energy storage industry. The projection outpaces the 5.2 gigawatts set to come online in California.