Canada Capitalizes on U.S. Chaos. Manh Choh Mining Updates.

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Today’s Key Takeaways:  Appeals court hears arguments on Willow project…again. Canada sees opportunity for their natural gas sector while U.S. pauses LNG export approvals. Manh Choh exploration update. First hearing in Congress on LNG export pause.


Appeals court weighs whether to let stand Biden’s approval of Willow oil project in Alaska
KFQD, February 6, 2024

An appeals court panel is deciding whether to let stand the Biden administration’s approval of the massive Willow oil project in a federal petroleum reserve on Alaska’s North Slope.

Environmentalists and a grassroots group called Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic are seeking to have last March’s approval overturned. Arguments before a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel Monday in San Francisco focused largely on the groups’ claims that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management did not consider a “reasonable” range of alternatives in its review and limited its consideration of alternatives to those that allowed for full-field development of the project by ConocoPhillips Alaska.

The court did not immediately rule.

Amy Collier, a U.S. Justice Department attorney, told the court the federal agencies involved complied with their legal obligations. Jason Morgan, an attorney for ConocoPhillips Alaska, said Willow wasn’t presented on a “blank slate” — that prior lease decisions providing a right to develop subject to restrictions and a plan governing where development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska can take place also were part of the equation.

“Context is very important,” Morgan said.

In court documents, he and other attorneys for the company said the leases in ConocoPhillips’ Bear Tooth Unit are in areas open to leasing and surface development and that the Bureau of Land Management committed the unit to development in issuing leases there over a period of years. Willow is in the unit, in the northeast part of the petroleum reserve.



Canada Looks To Capitalize As U.S. Pauses LNG Export Licenses
Haley Zaremba, OilPrice.Com, February 6, 2024

  • President Biden’s LNG export review is aimed at assessing the impact on domestic energy security, consumer costs, and the environment, creating potential for Canada’s natural gas sector.
  • The pause may shift LNG buyers, particularly in Asia, to consider Canadian alternatives, which boast lower carbon intensity.
  • While some view the pause as an economic risk, others see a chance for the U.S. and global markets to pivot towards more sustainable energy practices, with Canada potentially benefiting from its climate-forward approach.

The Biden administration’s decision to pause approvals of new licenses to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) is making major waves both at home and internationally. While there is much hand-wringing about the economic implications of the deal for the United States and its energy trade partners, at least one man, Canadian Energy Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, sees an opportunity for his country’s natural gas sector.



2023 Winter Exploration Update from Manh Choh

In the fall, the exploration team completed its 2023 program consisting of drilling, trenching, surface sampling and expanding a 2022 geophysical survey. Before drilling, we trenched using an excavator and dozer to expose the bedrock at locations identified as prospective based on geophysical and surface data.

 Geologists and technicians systematically took rock samples at evenly spaced intervals. These results, along with observations and measurements collected, will help assess if the prospect should be drilled and from what direction. Based on the trenching information, 10 holes were drilled at six prospects this summer. The deepest hole was drilled to a depth of 1,000 feet.

 Manh Choh is a shallow deposit that goes from the surface to almost 750 feet deep. Specialized technology was sent down the hole during drilling to allow for geologic features, like veins, to be measured with an orientation that allows geologists to project where these features may continue.

We also expanded the coverage of the ground-based gravity geophysical survey near Manh Choh. To do this, geophysicists set up highly sensitive equipment that measures the density of underlying bedrock.

 This information is useful as a mapping tool to identify faults and changes in bedrock. Farther south of Manh Choh, the Exploration Team completed a soil sample grid, which followed up on the previous year’s stream sediment sample and ridge and spur-sampling program. Crews spent about three weeks walking up and down mountain topography in a grid pattern, using shovels to hand-dig soil samples and collect rocks. The area is only accessible by helicopter


LNG TAKES CENTER STAGE IN FIRST HEARING SINCE BIDEN’S EXPORT PAUSE: Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee held little back today in a hearing to examine President Joe Biden’s LNG export pause, the first major congressional action since the administration announced its plans to temporarily halt new project approvals late last month. 

GOP representatives issued scathing criticism of the pause, which they argued amounts to a politically motivated attempt to assuage liberal Democrats ahead of the presidential election, and one that will deepen rifts with allies in Asia and the EU that are dependent on U.S LNG.

“This is not a pause,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said at the outset of the hearing. “This is a ban.”

Others blasted the way the pause was announced: The Biden administration “did not issue an executive order, or request Congress enact legislation” on the matter, Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina said, but instead “issued this major policy shift through a fact sheet in a press release.”

Duncan also criticized the open-ended nature of the announcement, which he said contains “no end point or timeline,” indicating what he said was an “indefinite pause.”

Witnesses include the head of EQT, the largest U.S. natural gas producer, as well as officials from the Hudson Institute’s Initiative on American Energy Security and the Natural Resources Defense Council. DOE officials were invited but did not accept the invitation, Republicans noted.

The hearing underscored just how big a role LNG is slated to play this year ahead of the 2024 elections. In fact, Senate Democrats announced a hearing of their own to examine the LNG pause later this week.

DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk has agreed to testify at the Senate hearing—but he should be prepared to face a tough grilling from members, including committee chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin, who has vowed to “get the facts” on the abrupt LNG pause, and has argued that DOE must have a “public and clear” reason to justify this type of sweeping action.

Next steps: The hearings come as Rep. August Pfluger of Texas introduced H.R.7176, the “Unlocking our Domestic LNG Potential Act” formerly led by retired Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio. The legislation calls for removing DOE’s ability to restrict natural gas imports or exports based on the “public interest” test Republicans argue is being weaponized. Instead, the certification and approval process for these facilities would be fully in the hands of FERC. 

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy, February 6, 2024