International explorers steer clear of Alaska’s wildlife refuge
Ed Crooks, Wood Mackenzie, January 8, 2021
Reputational, legal, and political risks meant there was little interest in a first-ever lease sale in the area. But Alaska’s oil industry has other, more promising prospects.
When you have spent a long time waiting for something, it can sometimes be a disappointment when it arrives. Attempts to open up a section of the area covered by the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve in Alaska for oil development have been rumbling around since the 1970s. But by the time a first lease sale was finally held this week, there was very little interest from the industry. Most of the leases sold went to the state, in the shape of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, and the high bids totaled just $14.4 million.
The fact that the sale fell flat, however, does not mean that Alaska’s oil industry is locked into inevitable decline. In fact, the state is on the threshold of a mini boom. The glory days of the 1970s may be gone forever, but Alaska is set for strong growth in oil production over the coming decade.
EXXONMOBIL PLAYS TO ITS STRENGTHS
Charles Ellinas, NGW Magazine, January 11, 2021
In common with many of its peers, US major ExxonMobil had a rough year, bouncing up and down on the roller-coaster market. In October it appeared to go against most other majors when it announced that it will stay with and increase investments in oil and gas production. But it was then forced to take impairments and cut spending. Joe Biden’s election as the next US president appeared to put a check to its plans, but then it was reported that he would not impose undue restrictions on the US oil and gas sector. Then came the good news of the Covid-19 vaccines which, combined with the Opec alliance’s cautious and progressive relaxation of its oil production cuts, boosted the oil price, with Brent even above $50/b in December. Then the more infectious variant of the virus dented optimism and prices fell sharply in a few days. Nevertheless, ExxonMobil’s share price had risen about 30% by late 2020, putting the company back ahead of US major Chevron. Divestments and spending cuts ExxonMobil announced after-tax impairments of $17-20bn in November, mostly involving less strategic, dry gas assets in the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas in the US, and in western Canada and Argentina. In effect it is writing off gas fields that the previous CEO Rex Tillerson paid a high price for ten years ago with his $35bn…
Federal and state officials sign right-of-way permit for controversial Ambler Road
Wesley Early, KOTZ Radio, January 8, 2021
In the latest step in a longstanding dispute between mining advocates and environmentalists, federal and state entities signed a 50-year right-of-way permit for the controversial Ambler Road project on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
The permit was signed by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and Alaska’s state-owned development corporation — the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA). It allows the privately-owned road to pass through lands controlled by the federal government.
A company called Ambler Metals LLC, a subsidiary of British Columbia-based Trilogy Metals hopes to use the road to access copper, gold, zinc, and other mineral deposits in the area, in cooperation with the NANA Regional Native corporation.
Biden’s First Fracking Test
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2021
Will he allow a proposed port for LNG to go through as planned?
Joe Biden promised at the end of the election campaign that he wouldn’t ban fracking for oil and natural gas. He’d merely forbid new oil and gas permits on federal land and waters. Pennsylvania voters who have benefited from a fracking boom may soon find out whether he meant it.
Progressives are calling on the Biden Administration to kill plans long underway for a port on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River in Gibbstown. The project is designed to allow natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale to be liquified and then transported by train to the port where it will be exported, mostly to the Caribbean.
CLIMATE CHANGE CONVERSATIONS:
Trump Lawyers Get Argument Time in High Court Climate Case
Bloomberg Law, January 8, 2021
Trump administration lawyers will join the oil and gas industry to battle a climate case before the U.S. Supreme Court, one day before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The high court on Friday approved the federal government’s request to argue alongside lawyers for BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., and other oil companies facing liability claims related to their role in global warming. Arguments are scheduled for Jan. 19, the day before inauguration.