News of the Day: Manchin’s Mission as Senate Energy & Natural Resources Chair
Today’s Rasmussen Poll:
Voters Say U.S. Is More Divided, Doubt Biden Can Unite Americans
Most voters think the country has become more divided since Election Day, and fewer than 1-in-5 say they are very confident President Biden will be able to unite Americans.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 56% of Likely U.S. Voters say America has become more divided since the election. Just 16% say the country is more united since the election, while 25% say it is about the same.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
EXAMINING BIDEN’S LEASING BAN: The leasing pause is a big deal, no doubt, given it lasts indefinitely while the administration reviews whether, and under what conditions, oil and gas development could resume under the federal minerals leasing program.
But there’s carveouts, and the immediate impact, especially on emissions, seems pretty minimal, as Josh wrote this morning.
The order exempts Native American tribes, which control about 20% of known oil and gas reserves on federal lands.
Banking leases and permits: The Biden administration is also emphasizing how the oil and gas industry has already stockpiled millions of acres of leases, which can last up to 10 years, while stashing permits as well. The Interior Department said in a fact sheet this morning that of the more than 26 million acres under lease to the oil and gas industry on public lands onshore, nearly 13.9 million (or 53%) of that is unused and non-producing. Of the more than 12 million acres of public waters under lease, over 9.3 million of those are not being used.
The industry is also sitting on 7,700 unused, approved permits to drill.
Permits are safe, to a point: Despite concern Interior would also freeze permitting, the agency says the pause “won’t impact existing operations or permits for valid, existing leases, which are continuing to be reviewed and approved.” Permits to drill usually are good for two years. But the Biden team is likely to impose tougher permitting requirements, with new guidance that requires permitting officers to evaluate factors such as greenhouse gas lifecycles, the social costs of carbon, methane, and more.
“Producers who can will likely shift their focus to assets on state and private lands. But the existing stockpile of drilling permits won’t last forever,” Dan Eberhart, CEO of the oil services company Canary and a Republican donor, told Josh.
Endangered species signoff puts LNG facility in Alaska closer to handling imports
S & P Global Platts, January 26, 2021
The oldest LNG export facility in the US, dormant since 2015, is a step closer to being brought back online to handle imports to power a nearby refinery.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has concluded, in a Jan. 25 letter, that the proposal to modify the Kenai LNG facility in Alaska so it can receive four cargoes a year is not likely to adversely affect endangered whales.
While LNG exports have flourished since 2016 from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, there aren’t any active shipments from the US West Coast, despite the shorter shipping distance to East Asia, the world’s biggest import market. For several years, uncertainty has surrounded the fate of the proposed Alaska LNG export project, which would be built along the eastern shore of Cook Inlet, because of its massive price tag and differences among state and local officials. A proposed liquefaction terminal to be built in Oregon, Pembina’s Jordan Cove LNG, has been held up by state permitting and commercial challenges.
Former plant owner ConocoPhillips began shipping LNG from Kenai LNG to overseas buyers in 1969, exporting the bulk of more than 1,300 cargoes to Japanese utilities. For more than 40 years, the plant in Nikiski, Alaska, was the only LNG export terminal in the US. A year after the 1.6 million mt/year facility went idle, Cheniere Energy shipped its first cargo from its Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, launching a wave of new supplies produced from shale gas.
The Alaska facility’s current owner, Marathon Petroleum subsidiary Trans-Foreland Pipeline, wants to add equipment and perform modifications that will allow the terminal to cool down its existing LNG storage tanks by importing LNG. It would then deliver boil-off gas generated by the facility to the adjacent Kenai Refinery that is owned by an affiliate.
Northern Dynasty stock surges as it releases Pebble appeal details
Mining.Com, January 27, 2021
Northern Dynasty Minerals (TSX:NDM) (NYSE:NAK) is appealing the decision by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to issue a negative Record of Decision (ROD) for the proposed massive Pebble mine project in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska.
On Wednesday, the company published the request for appeal (RFA) document on its website. According to Northern Dynasty CEO Ron Thiessen, there are some “very compelling arguments” persuasively presented in the RFA.
“We believe our submission clearly demonstrates the USACE’s Record of Decision for the Pebble project is contrary to law, unprecedented in Alaska and fundamentally unsupported by the administrative record. These are matters not only of concern to Northern Dynasty and its investors, but to all Alaskans,” Thiessen said in a news release.
The Pebble project has received additional support from the State of Alaska, which has also submitted a request to appeal to the USACE addressing its concerns as the owner of land and sub-surface mineral resources at Pebble.
Republicans press Granholm on fossil fuels during confirmation hearing
Rachel Frazin, The Hill, January 27, 2021
Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee pressed Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm on fossil fuel issues during her sometimes-tense confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, will be tasked with helping implement the president’s goal of expanding clean energy as part of an effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Both Biden and Granholm have stressed that they want to create jobs as part of the transition, with Granholm saying during the hearing the goal is to create 10 million jobs.
Republicans, particularly those from fossil fuel-producing states, expressed skepticism during the hearing about replacing oil and gas jobs.
In opening remarks, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who will be the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he won’t “sit idly by…if the Biden administration enforces policies that threaten Wyoming’s economy or the lifeblood of so many people in my home state.”
He also asked Granholm if it is a “good thing” that the U.S. is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer.
“It is a good thing, and I look forward to working with you to make sure that it’s clean and reduces [greenhouse gas] emissions,” Granholm said.
CLIMATE CHANGE CONVERSATIONS:
Exxon Planning Board, Other Changes Amid Activist Pressure
Cara Lombardo, Emily Glazer and Dana Cimilluca, The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2021
Exxon could announce the changes as soon as next week, possibly with its fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday. An ExxonMobil chemical complex in Baytown, Texas, is seen in 2020.
Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM +0.88% is preparing to make changes to its board and adopt further measures to reduce its carbon footprint as the beleaguered energy giant faces pressure from a pair of activist investors.
The company is discussing adding one or more new directors to the board and stepping up sustainability investments, people familiar with the matter said. Irving, Texas-based Exxon, which has been reducing its overall capital spending, could also curtail it further.
Exxon is in talks with one of the activists, D.E. Shaw Group, which may end up supporting the moves, some of the people said. Meanwhile, the other, Engine No. 1 LLC, is moving forward with a planned proxy fight for four board seats, it said Wednesday.
Exact details couldn’t be learned and the talks with D.E. Shaw could still fall apart. Like other activists, D.E. Shaw sometimes employs nonbinding handshake agreements with the companies it targets to avert a proxy fight.
The company said in a statement in response to the Engine No. 1 move that it has engaged with the firm since mid-December and that its board-affairs committee will evaluate the nominees. “ExxonMobil will continue to update shareholders in the coming weeks on the company’s strategy to build long-term, sustainable value for shareholders,” the company said. “It will also provide updates on company performance and actions to address climate change, including initiatives to commercialize technologies which are key to reducing emissions and meeting societal goals consistent with the Paris Agreement.”