Coal Demand. Manchin on Natural Gas “It has to be…” Tectonic Flat gold project.

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Global Energy Crisis Draws New Lines in Coal’s Trade Map
Dan Murtaugh, Alfred Cang, Bloomberg, October 4, 2021

  •  Kazakh cargo loads in Black Sea on 30-day trip to East China
  •  Mounting coal prices encourage purchases from farther afield

The global energy crisis is reshaping trade routes for coal, illustrating the heightened demand for a fuel many considered on the downswing.

China’s eastern province of Zhejiang recently received its first seaborne cargo of Kazakhstan coal, as well as a rare, railed shipment from Xinjiang. Meanwhile, European power plants are interested in buying Indonesian coal for the first time in two years, according to Chinese industry publication Fengkuang Coal LThe unusual moves show just how desperate nations are to secure as much of the fuel as they can with energy crises looming on multiple continents ahead of the northern hemisphere winter. Coal prices are at record levels in Asia, by far the largest market.

Few cargoes have taken as much of a roundabout journey as one that traveled from Kazakhstan by land to Russia’s Zhelezny Rog Port, where it was loaded onto the bulk carrier Caro at the end of August, according to Bloomberg data. The ship spent 30 days at sea sailing 8,501 nautical miles (15,744 kilometers) before offloading the 136,000 tons of high-quality coal on Monday, according to a statement from the state-owned Zhejiang Energy Group

“It reflects demand from some areas in China amid an overall supply tightness, so they reach out to further coal producers,” said Zeng Hao, an analyst with consultancy Shanxi Jinzheng Energy. 


OPEC+ sticks to plan for gradual oil output hike, price roars higher
Alex Lawler, Ahmad, Ghaddar, Oleysa Astakhova, Reuters, October 4, 2021

  • Oil prices have climbed more than 50% in 2021
  • U.S. official says oil market ‘of concern’
  • OPEC+ wary of any new coronavirus surge, source says
  • Demand has bounced back, supply struggled to keep up
  • Russia’s Novak says demand usual eases in fourth quarter

LONDON, Oct 4 (Reuters) – OPEC+ said on Monday it would stick to an existing pact for a gradual increase in oil output, sending crude prices to three-year highs and adding to inflationary pressures that consuming nations fear will derail an economic recovery from the pandemic.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and allies, known as OPEC+, have faced calls for additional supplies from big consumers, such as the United States and India, after oil surged more than 50% this year.

OPEC+ “reconfirmed the production adjustment plan” that it previously agreed that would see 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) added in November, the group said in a statement issued after online ministerial talks.

Brent crude roared above $81 a barrel on news that the group would stay with its plan for gradual additional production.

“We will be monitoring the situation, as we know, demand usually falls in the fourth quarter, our plans on increasing (output) are even, we will be watching how the market will be balanced,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said.

An OPEC+ source had told Reuters before Monday’s ministerial talks that the group had faced pressure to ramp up production faster but added: “We are scared of the fourth wave of corona, no one wants to make any big moves.”

The group had agreed in July to boost output by 400,000 bpd a month until at least April 2022 to phase out 5.8 million bpd of existing production cuts, already much reduced from curbs that were in place during the worst of the pandemic.

Demand has bounced back swiftly, while supply has been disrupted by factors ranging from hurricanes that have hammered U.S. production to low levels of investment across the industry during the depths of the pandemic when demand cratered.

A senior aide to U.S. President Joe Biden met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia on a range of issues last week, saying oil was “of concern”. India, another big oil consumer, has pushed for more supply. read more

“For now, most producing members may be comfortable with an $80 per barrel Brent price, but there is a risk of receiving a backlash or pressure from buyers like the U.S. and China, who are openly calling for lower energy prices,” consultancy Rystad Energy wrote before the ministers met.

Analysts had said they expected uncertainty about the impact on demand from variants of the coronavirus, which threaten fresh economic disruption, to weigh on OPEC+ decision-making.


Manchin clashes with fellow Democrats over fossil fuel demands
Alexander Bolton, The Hill, October 3, 2021

Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is insisting that natural gas be allowed to have a central role in President Biden’s clean energy agenda, which puts him on a collision course with Democratic lawmakers who worry he will have the power to water down what they see as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address climate change.

Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is pushing to have sole jurisdiction in the Senate over the $150 billion Clean Electricity Performance Program, which would provide grants to utilities that increase their share of clean energy sources.

He is flexing his muscle by calling for natural gas to be part of Biden’s clean energy solution even though the House Energy and Commerce Committee specifically excluded natural gas from the clean energy program by defining clean energy as having a carbon intensity of less than 0.10 metric tons of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.

Asked by The Hill on Thursday whether he would insist on natural gas being part of Biden’s clean energy standard, Manchin said “it has to be.”

“I’m all for all of the above, I’m all for clean energy, but I’m also for producing the amount of energy that we need to make sure that we have reliability and I’m concerned about that,” he said.

Manchin also confirmed what he has communicated to colleagues in recent weeks that he does not think that utilities should be pressured to purchase electricity generated from natural gas produced with carbon capture technology.

“I’d love to have carbon capture — we don’t have the technology because we haven’t really gotten to that point and it’s so darn expensive that it makes it almost improbable,” he added.

That is setting off alarm bells among Democratic senators who want to enact energy reforms that bend the curve of projected global warming down to within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a goal set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Natural gas is a fossil fuel. Natural gas is a terrible global warming gas … and it has no place in such a program, otherwise it becomes a bill to subsidize fossil fuel when we want to subsidize renewable energy,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), a leading proponent of putting strong measures in the reconciliation bill to address climate change.

Merkley said natural gas is acceptable as a clean energy source if it’s paired with carbon capture technology.

Merkley, along with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), say the reconciliation bill must make landmark reforms to address global warming, and environmental policy experts allied with them warn that subsidizing natural gas without carbon capture technology would be counterproductive to that goal.

“The fate of the planet is at stake. Without a strong reconciliation bill there will be no serious effort to cut carbon emissions & transform our energy system away from fossil fuel,” Sanders tweeted Friday.

Whitehouse has warned that progressives will block the reconciliation bill if it doesn’t include strong climate provisions — a goal that would be undermined if the Clean Electricity Performance Program subsidizes natural gas without carbon capture technology.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to have a deal and it’s going to be good enough on climate or it won’t go,” he told reporters last month.

Asked if the climate provisions are a red line, Whitehouse responded: “It’s pretty red.” 

Earlier this year he warned “there is a significant group of senators in the Democratic caucus who are going to insist that climate measures be robust and real and point toward 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Manchin is also challenging Senate Democratic colleagues over their desire to implement a carbon tax, an idea that has gained momentum in the upper chamber recently.

“Any type of a tax is going to be passed on to the people,” he warned Monday.

“Now if a tax is going to be beneficial to help something and give us more research and development and innovation and technology, it’s something to look at,” he said.

But Manchin said he’s skeptical that a carbon tax will actually spur the innovation of new technologies.

Given progressives’ high hopes for using the reconciliation bill to fight climate change, they were disappointed to hear that Manchin wants to subsidize natural gas under the clean energy program that will be drafted in his committee.

“This summer we witnessed devastating fires and floods and a landmark IPCC report saying we’re near the point of irreversible warming and climate catastrophe and I think it couldn’t be clearer that we cannot spend one more day continuing to subsidize and continue the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, including gas,” said Lauren Maunus, advocacy director at the Sunrise Movement.

“We said very clearly that gas is not clean. We’re talking about a clean energy performance program, and gas is incredibly warming as a fossil fuel,” she said.

She said Biden ran for president on a bold climate platform and “made very clear his intent and desire to be a historic climate president.”

“Is he going to let Joe Manchin walk all over his agenda?” she asked.

The Sierra Club responded to Manchin by issuing a statement declaring it “opposes government investment in polluting gas plants, which would undermine the climate and public health benefits of the program while saddling consumers with higher energy costs.”

Holly Bender, the senior director of energy campaigns for the Sierra Club, said “it’s vital that any Clean Electricity Performance Program invest in truly clean sources of energy like wind and solar and not perpetuate our dependency on the very dirty fuels that are fueling the crisis we must urgently address.”

Biden in April announced a goal of reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 50 to 52 percent by 2030.

The reconciliation bill will attempt to meet his goal through several reforms: clean energy tax credits drafted by the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, the Clean Electricity Performance Program reported by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the establishment of a civilian climate corps, a fee on methane, protection for the Arctic refuge and transit investments.

Manchin has made an aggressive push to control the drafting of Senate language establishing the parameters of the clean electricity program.

In a memorandum of understanding Manchin signed with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the end of July, the West Virginia senator demanded that his committee — Energy and Natural Resources — have “sole jurisdiction” over any clean energy standard.

The Clean Electricity Performance Program evolved from a proposed clean energy standard to keep within the Senate’s Byrd Rule, which requires that legislation passed under budget reconciliation have a significant — and nonincidental — budgetary impact.


Tectonic leases Doyon’s Flat gold project
Shane Lasley, North of 60 Mining News, September 30, 2021

Building upon a strong relationship it has made with Doyon Ltd., Tectonic Metals Inc. has entered into an agreement to lease the Flat gold project owned by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act regional corporation.

Located about 25 miles north of the Donlin Gold project being advanced under a joint venture between Barrick Gold Corp. and Novagold Resources Inc., the 92,160-acre Flat property hosts intrusive-hosted, sheeted quartz vein gold mineralization similar to that found at Kinross Gold Corp.’s Fort Knox Mine in Alaska and Victoria Gold Corp.’s Eagle Mine in the Yukon.

Located in the Kuskokwim Mineral Belt, Flat covers the likely lode source of two creeks – Flat and Otter – that are estimated to have produced more than 830,000 oz of placer gold since 1908. When you add in other creeks streams draining Chicken Mountain on the property, this total is more than 1.3 million oz of alluvial gold.

Historical exploration carried out from the 1960s until 2003, including roughly 11,000 meters of drilling, has outlined a nearly 4,000-meter-long gold-in-soil anomaly formed by intrusion-hosted mineralization that begins at surface and remains open along strike and at depth.

“The acquisition of Flat provides Tectonic with access to one of the most exciting gold exploration opportunities in Alaska,” said Tectonic Metals President and CEO Tony Reda. “The property’s location, just 40 kilometers north of Donlin, is enhanced by gold mineralization consistent with that found at the Kinross Gold‘s Fort Knox mine and Victoria Gold‘s Eagle mine.”

The flat property covers two main target areas – Chicken Mountain and Black Creek-Golden Horn.

Gold at Chicken Mountain occurs as disseminated and fracture-controlled mineralization within a late-stage quartz monzonite intrusion, which appears to have been the major source of placer gold in the Flat district.

A 3,800- by 600-meter soil anomaly with greater than 100 parts per billion gold covers the core of the exposed intrusion.

Historical drilling at Chicken Mountain cut bulk-tonnage gold mineralization with narrower, high-grade sections. Highlights include:

• 26.6 meters averaging 1.36 grams per metric ton gold from a depth of 57.9 meters in hole F88-02, including 4.5 meters averaging 6.47 g/t gold.

• 7.6 meters averaging 5.62 g/t gold from a depth of 33.5 meters in hole F88-14, including 1.5 meters averaging 24.51 g/t gold.

• 24.7 meters averaging 12.56 g/t gold from a depth of 27.1 meters in hole DDH97-16CM, including 1.4 meters averaging 211.27 g/t gold.

• 1.6 meters averaging 27.2 g/t gold from a depth of 193.2 meters in hole CM03-25.

Tectonic says the gold at Chicken Mountain is hosted within quartz veins which contain free gold, arsenopyrite, pyrite, stibnite, cinnabar, and rare chalcopyrite.

Mineralization at the Black Creek-Golden Horn complex is contained within northeast-striking, steeply dipping, intrusion-hosted sheeted sub-parallel veins.

Narrow veins contain quartz and limonite, while wider veins up to 18 inches thick contain open space fills of massive stibnite with pyrite, arsenopyrite, cinnabar, scheelite, and native gold.

Contact-related vein and disseminated bulk tonnage mineralization is hosted within sedimentary and volcanic rocks. Most notable is the Golden Hornfels, or Golden Horn, zone which occurs along the eastern contact of the Black Creek stock.

One hole drilled at Golden Horn in 1997, DDH97-10GH, cut three gold mineralized zones: seven meters averaging 1.49 g/t gold from a depth of 84.4 meters; 21.4 meters averaging 0.49 g/t gold from a depth of 123.4 meters; and six meters averaging 4.15 g/t gold from a depth of 149.4 meters.

“Flat also has the potential for free-milling gold, implying a simpler, less energy-intensive extraction process upon mining. This, in combination with historically mined placer gold deposits in creeks draining the property, points to an opportunity with a low-cost path forward,” said Reda.

Tectonic plans to conduct data compilation prior to a preliminary metallurgical test work program utilizing existing drill core.

Strong relationship

Since its formation in 2018, Tectonic has built a strong working relationship with Doyon, the ANCSA regional corporation for Interior Alaska.

Much of the 12.5 million acres of land owned by Doyon was selected for its mineral potential, including two district-scale mineral exploration properties a few miles west of the Yukon border – Seventymile and Northway – that Tectonic leased from Doyon in 2018.

Tectonic recently opted to terminate its lease on the Northway property but continues to explore the massive gold potential identified across a wide swath of the district-scale Seventymile property.

In 2020, Tectonic leased an additional 65,600 acres of Doyon lands adjacent to or near its Tibbs gold project in the Goodpaster Mining District, a gold-rich region of eastern Alaska that hosts Northern Star Resources Ltd.’s Pogo gold mine.

These Goodpaster District properties leased from Doyon include Carrie Creek, 15,800 acres of lands divided into two blocks now referred to as Tibbs North and Tibbs South, and Mount Harper, a 49,800-acre polymetallic exploration property about 10 miles southeast of Tibbs.

Flat now represents the fourth property Tectonic has leased from Doyon over the past three years.

“Tectonic is proud to once again be partnering with our largest shareholder, Doyon, to unlock the exploration potential at Flat,” said Reda.

Much like the agreements on the previous three properties leased from Doyon, the agreement for Flat covers all aspects of exploration, development, production, reclamation, and royalties.

Under the terms of the lease, Tectonic paid Doyon US$30,000 upon signing the agreement and is required to make US$40,000 payments to the ANCSA corporation in years two through five; US$50,000 annual payments in years six through nine; and US$100,000 annually for the balance of the initial 15-year lease.

If Tectonic decides to extend the lease beyond the first term, annual payments to Doyon will increase to US$200,000.

If Tectonic completes a feasibility study for developing a mine on any portion of the Flat property, the company is required to pay a one-time fee of US$150,000 to Doyon.

Doyon also retains a 2% net smelter royalty for precious minerals and a 1% NSR for base minerals until the fifth anniversary of commencement of commercial production. After that, Doyon’s royalty increases to 3% NSR for precious minerals and a 2% NSR for base minerals up to the tenth anniversary of commercial production. Following the tenth anniversary of commercial production, the production royalty for precious minerals is the greater of a 4% NSR or 15% of net proceeds, and the production royalty for base minerals is the greater of a 3% NSR or 15% of net proceeds.

An important aspect of all Tectonic’s lease agreements with Doyon is contributions toward educational programs for the Alaska Native corporation’s shareholders. As such, Tectonic has committed to contributing an annual US$10,000 scholarship payment to the Doyon Foundation or another accredited institution as directed by Doyon for the term of the lease. This scholarship amount increases to US$50,000 each year following the commencement of commercial production at Flat.

To keep the lease at Flat in good standing, Tectonic must complete $1 million of exploration by the end of 2023, including $500,000 next year; another $2 million over a three-year span beginning in 2024; and $2.5 million for every three-year period from 2027 to the end of the lease.

“We look forward to focusing our methodical, innovative and targeted approach to gold exploration on the over 90,000-acre district-scale opportunity at Flat for the benefit of all Tectonic’s shareholders and stakeholders,” said Reda.


4 things to know as Alaska’s redistricting board takes public testimony Monday in Anchorage
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, October 3, 2021

On Monday in Anchorage, Alaska’s five-person redistricting board will take public testimony during a town hall meeting on what the state’s political boundaries should look like for the next decade.

The board is considering six different proposals, and one of them — with or without modifications — must be approved by Nov. 10.

The meeting at the Dena’ina Center begins at 4:30 p.m. and is scheduled to run through 6:30 p.m. Other meetings have stayed open longer to accommodate more testimony.

Whether you’re interested in attending Monday’s meeting or simply want to follow the process, here are four things to know:

1. This only happens once every 10 years.

Alaska’s constitution requires new legislative boundaries every 10 years, after the U.S. census is complete, in order to account for changes in Alaska’s population.

The goal is to ensure each state legislator represents roughly the same number of voters. For members of the state House, the ideal district has 18,335 people — roughly equal to the state’s population in the latest census divided by the 40 House seats. For senators, it’s twice that.

In 1998, voters approved a constitutional amendment that put redistricting in the hands of a five-member board

The five members of this year’s board are Bethany Marcum of Anchorage and Budd Simpson of Juneau (both appointed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy); John Binkley of Fairbanks (appointed by former Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage); Nicole Borromeo of Anchorage (appointed by former Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham); and Melanie Bahnke of Nome (appointed by former Chief Justice Joel Bolger).

Binkley’s sons and daughter are the owners of the Anchorage Daily News, and Binkley himself does not have a role in the paper’s operations. The Binkleys are not involved in news coverage.

The board is considering two draft maps from its members, and outside groups have proposed another four.

Under the state constitution, the board must approve one map by majority vote no later than Nov. 10.

In each prior redistricting process, the final map has been challenged in court.

2. The result will have a big impact on Alaska politics.

The five redistricting board members have said repeatedly that they are not taking partisan political considerations into account and did not examine where incumbent legislators live.

Those statements were greeted with loud scoffs during a public testimony session in Juneau, and during prior board meetings, some Alaskans accused the board of gerrymandering — drawing lines that favor one political party over another.

In the 2020 presidential election, voters in 35 of Alaska’s current House districts voted for the same party in the presidential race and for the state House.

In 19 districts, voters picked Democrat Joe Biden. In 21, they picked Republican Donald Trump.

If the election had been run under the map proposed by Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting, a third-party group, 15 districts would have favored Biden and 25 would have favored Trump. That would have increased the likelihood of more Republicans in the state House.

In the other direction, a map proposed by the Alaska Senate’s minority Democrats would have resulted in 20 districts favoring Biden and 20 favoring Trump.

The board’s two draft options are called Version 3 and Version 4 because two preliminary versions have already been tossed out.

Version 3 would have created a 19-21 split in favor of Trump, and Version 4 would have created a 20-20 split.

There’s another factor to consider. The various maps put some incumbent legislators into the same districts, forcing them to run against each other while leaving other districts with no incumbent.

Incumbents normally have an electoral advantage.

In Version 3, Anchorage Democratic Reps. Zack Fields, Harriet Drummond and Matt Claman are all in one proposed district. In three other Anchorage districts, another six incumbents would have to run against each other

Version 4 puts six Anchorage incumbents into three districts, forcing them to run against each other.

Because most of those incumbents are members of the Alaska House’s bipartisan coalition, some Alaskans have accused the board of being biased against coalition members.

The board has consistently denied those claims and members repeatedly said they did not look at incumbents’ residency when drawing the maps.

3. Redistricting must follow certain rules — but those rules can be interpreted in many different ways.

Under the Alaska Constitution, House districts must be “formed of contiguous and compact territory containing as nearly as practicable a relatively integrated socio-economic area.”

They also must contain a population “as near as practicable” to the state’s population divided by 40. This year, that’s 18,335.

Each of the six proposed maps emphasizes different aspects of those rules. The board-drawn maps favor the “integrated socio-economic area” rule, board chairman Binkley said in Juneau last month.

“The (population) deviation isn’t the most important thing,” he said. “We look at that after the three other things.”

Under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the maximum difference between the biggest district and smallest district is 10% of the ideal. Both of the board’s maps have about a deviation of about 9%.

Maps proposed by Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting and the Senate Democrats emphasize the smallest possible deviation, each finishing between 3% and 4%.

Their authors said population counts should be the priority because the more people who are in a district, the less power an individual voter has.

If the difference between the smallest district and the biggest district is too large, voters in different parts of the state will have much more or much less power.

Complicating the process, map-drawing is less like actual drawing and more like building with Legos. Each district is built from distinct parcels previously drawn by the U.S. Census Bureau and known as census blocks.

The blocks can vary in size and shape, contributing to some odd boundaries. In one case, said redistricting board director Peter Torkelson, a block boundary ran directly through someone’s home, and that block happened to be the exact border between two proposed House districts.

That problem will be fixed before the final map is approved, he said.

4. While the Alaska Supreme Court is likely to determine the final maps, public testimony still counts.

In every redistricting process since statehood, the final map has been decided by the Alaska Supreme Court.

In the past, public testimony has factored into the legal process, with plaintiffs and judges referring to that testimony when considering various alternatives.

Testimony is also important for the board’s map-drawing process, and that process is relevant even if judges have the final word. In the last redistricting cycle, a board-drawn map was used during the 2012 elections because of the slow pace of legal proceedings.

It’s useful to tell the board which Anchorage neighborhoods are tied together, said representatives of the groups that have proposed third-party maps. Written testimony is the most effective way to communicate, said Joelle Hall of Alaskans for Fair Redistricting.

At Monday’s Anchorage meeting, the board is expected to have computers where attendees can offer their thoughts. They also will have microphones to record verbal testimony.

Written testimony can be emailed to


Obama official who guided Trump’s climate fight lands at AEI
Lesley Clark, ENERGYWIRE, October 4, 2021

Steven Koonin, an Obama-era Department of Energy undersecretary who later helped develop President Trump’s plan to challenge climate science, is joining the American Enterprise Institute.

Koonin, who was undersecretary for science in Obama’s first term, is joining the right-leaning think tank as a nonresident senior fellow focusing on climate science and energy policy studies.

“AEI’s tradition of unbiased, evidence-based analyses is well-aligned with my own approach,” Koonin said in a release, adding he looked forward “to working with the AEI community to better inform the important policy choices we face.”

Koonin is currently an information, operations, and management sciences professor at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, a civil engineering professor at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and physics professor at the College of Arts and Sciences.

“The breadth of his experience and the caliber of his work are remarkable, and we look forward to his future scholarship while at AEI,” AEI President Robert Doar said.

“Steve Koonin has a reputation for following the evidence where it leads, regardless of politics, which is why he fits in so well at AEI,” added Ryan Streeter, director of domestic policy studies at AEI.

Koonin is a controversial figure and one of the architects of a plan developed during the Trump administration to challenge the National Climate Assessment, a periodic anthology of the latest climate science compiled by federal agencies.

The so-called red-team, blue-team exercise would have treated climate science to an adversarial review process that researchers said was designed to test military operations, not academic research.

In May, climate scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California protested Koonin’s appearance at the government facility known for its pioneering climate research, saying it offered prominence to climate denialism (Energywire, May 26).

Koonin’s latest book, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t and Why It Matters,” asserts that climate change is exaggerated and emphasizes areas of doubt in scientific literature.

Koonin formerly served as undersecretary for science at DOE from 2009 to 2011 and as a professor of theoretical physics and provost of the California Institute of Technology.

At DOE, he coordinated and oversaw research across the department, on subjects including inertial fusion energy and greenhouse gas monitoring and verification, AEI said. He was also the principal author of the department’s first Quadrennial Technology Review for energy.

Koonin earlier spent five years as the chief scientist for the oil company BP PLC, developing its technology strategy for alternative and renewable energy sources. The company, which has downplayed the role of fossil fuels in climate change, announced last year that it would seek to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Koonin also helped Obama’s first Energy secretary, Steven Chu, form a major biosciences energy research partnership when Chu headed the Lawrence Berkeley lab. Chu at the time joking described his fellow theoretical physicist as “my twin brother.”