U.S. energy chiefs weigh what Biden means for oil, renewables
Will Wade, Bloomberg/Houston Chronicle, November 6, 2020
With Joe Biden inching close to an Electoral College victory, energy executives are weighing the potential impact of a president who supports shifting away from fossil fuels. While utilities that already embrace clean energy don’t see much impact, oil and natural gas suppliers are girding for a bigger threat. If he wins, Biden may halt drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and shut down the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The Democrat also plans to eliminate greenhouse gases from the power sector by 2035 and has pledged to bar new fracking on areas overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Here’s what energy executives are saying:
“We are realistic that with a Biden win, doing business on BLM land will become more difficult,” Marathon Chief Executive Officer Lee Tillman said during a call with analysts Thursday.
Pioneer Natural Resources
The “biggest issue” is if Biden decides to halt drilling on Federal land by not issuing more leases,” Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield said on Bloomberg TV. That would have a “significant effect” on U.S. Oil production over the long term, particularly on the New Mexico side of the Permian Basin and in the Gulf of Mexico, he said.
For pipeline companies, the results may be mixed. While Biden would likely make it harder to get permits for new projects, those who already have extensive networks and access to major oil and gas basins stand to gain, according to Marshall McCrea, co-CEO of Energy Transfer.
The election will have less impact on utilities. While President Donald Trump has been rolling back environmental protections to aid fossil fuel companies, the changes aren’t having much impact on the market forces driving power providers toward clean energy.
The rise of renewables will continue regardless of who wins the presidential race, said Michael Webber, chief science and technology officer for Engie SA, the French unity giant that develops wind and solar projects in the U.S. Prices for wind and solar will continue to fall, while both consumers and commercial electricity users are choosing to get electricity from renewable sources.
“No matter who wins, Biden or Trump, we see the United States as a growth market for renewables,” Webber said in an interview. “The market has spoken and consumers want it.”
EU expects U.S. natural gas suppliers to contribute to carbon-neutrality goals
Ewa Krukowska, World Oil, November 5, 2020
The European Union is looking at ways to put pressure on global exporters of liquefied natural gas to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint, part of the continent’s effort to slash fossil-fuel pollution. Officials at the European Commission, the union’s executive arm, are assessing ways to reduce pollution from gaseous fuels as part of the Green Deal, an environmental clean-up of the entire economy. The goal is to step up reductions of carbon dioxide and methane emissions as the 27-nations bloc tightens it climate goals and looks to scale up innovative energy technologies such as hydrogen.
“LNG trade and gas will remain the main topic of our cooperation with the U.S. in the years to come,” Anne-Charlotte Bournoville, head of the international relations and enlargement unit at the EC’s energy directorate, said on a webinar on Thursday. “At the same time, you see the direction of EU energy and climate policy. We need to achieve our 2050 ambition of climate neutrality.”
While the EU’s effort would apply worldwide, it would add a source of tension with the U.S. government. President Donald Trump has sought to promote LNG exports to Europe as a way to diversify the continent’s sources of energy. The number of U.S. cargoes arriving in Europe has surged in the past two years, with eastern members of the bloc prodded to buy “freedom gas,” instead of fuel from Russia. At the same time natural gas and LNG, once touted as bridge fuels to smooth the transition away from coal, have come under increased scrutiny as governments chase more ambitious climate targets. Last month, Engie SA shelved plans to buy LNG from U.S. exporter NextDecade Corp., handing a victory to an environmental group that had urged the French utility to drop the deal on pollution concerns.
Heatherdale to resume Niblack drilling
Shane Lasley, November 5, 2020
Restructured and under new leadership, Heatherdale Resources Ltd. is gearing up for a drill program to expand some of the high-grade targets at its Niblack copper-gold-silver-zinc project on Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. Heatherdale, which had advanced Niblack to the brink of considering the feasibility of mining the high-grade volcanogenic massive sulfide mineralization found there, became hampered by debt during the economic hardships endured by the junior mining sector in 2008 and again in 2012. Rob McLeod, a geologist noted for his work in Alaska, British Columbia, and elsewhere, cut a deal earlier this year to breathe new life into this company that has laid dormant for the better part of a decade.
GOP hold on Senate would eliminate top Biden threat to Trump deregulatory efforts
Abby Smith, Washington Examiner, November 6, 2020
A GOP Senate would mean that a Biden administration would lose the opportunity to cancel President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks using the same procedural tool that Republicans used effectively to wipe out Obama regulations. The upshot for Republicans would be that it could take Democrats months or years and tortuous legal battles to roll back Trump administration actions that weakened climate and environmental mandates. It would be a setback for a Biden administration that would want to move at light speed on climate change.
If Mitch McConnell retains control of the Senate… Biden would have to work through the normal agency rule-making process, which is time-consuming and gives opponents opportunities to stall or stop