Exxon’s emissions goal; Buoyant LNG Market; NoiseCat on Nuclear.

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Exxon Promises to Cut Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, End Flaring by 2030
Christopher M. Matthews, The Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2020

Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM -2.59% pledged to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions from its operations over the next five years and eliminate “routine flaring” of methane by 2030 as it responds to pressure from activists and investors to reduce its carbon footprint.

The Texas oil giant said Monday that it would cut the “intensity” of emissions from its oil-and-gas production by 15% to 20%, reduce its methane emissions intensity by 40% to 50% and cut its flaring intensity by 35% to 45%. It didn’t provide hard numbers on exactly how much of total emissions those reductions would represent.

The company also said it would end routine flaring, or venting, of methane from its oil-and-gas operations by the end of the next decade. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that, like carbon dioxide, is a contributor to climate change, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The targets are related to emissions that come directly from Exxon’s operations and not from its products, like gasoline and jet fuel. Exxon said it would begin disclosing emissions data related to its products next year.


Buoyant LNG market a sign of the coming recovery
Ed Crooks, Wood Mackenzie, December 11, 2020

On 8 December, 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person to be given a Covid-19 vaccine as part of a mass immunization programme. It was an emotional moment at the Coventry hospital in the UK where she was given the jab, a sign of a better year ahead in 2021. But there are some regions of the world, and some energy markets, where that better future has already arrived.

LNG prices in Asia have risen from lows around US$2 per million British thermal units to over US$9 this month, driven by disruptions to supply from some large projects, including Gorgon and Prelude, and by a robust recovery in demand. Bustling offices, schools and even cinemas in China, South Korea and Japan are reminders to Europeans and Americans, who are still facing lockdowns and high infection rates, of what successful control of Covid-19 looks like.

For US LNG exporters, the rebound in demand has transformed the immediate outlook. In the spring and summer US export volumes plunged, as prices in Europe and Asia fell to levels that meant offtakers could not cover their variable costs of production and shipping. It is estimated that more than 150 US LNG cargoes were cancelled between April and November, and in July and early August, supplies of gas to US export plants dropped to about a third of their liquefaction capacity.

Now that position has reversed completely, with the rise in LNG prices driving a surge in US exports.


Westwater Resources Has Speculative Tech That May Work but Not Right Away
Dana Blankenhorn, Investor Place, December 14, 2020

The electric vehicle landscape has evolved far beyond just Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), as car makers, truck and van manufacturers, and battery producers abound. Follow the whole EV food chain and you’ll end up at raw material plays, like Westwater Resources (NASDAQ:WWR).  Westwater says it has a process to purify graphite into anodes for batteries. It also controls a large deposit of natural graphite in east Alabama.

As the Trump Administration prepared an executive order demanding domestic supplies of critical materials, shares in WWR stock shot up, to a high of $11.80.

They’re set to open for trade on Dec. 14 at about $5.00. The question is, have investors missed the boat, or will patience be rewarded?

Related:  Graphite in Alaska -STAX graphite goes beyond just batteries


Dunleavy proposes nearly $5,000 in dividends for Alaskans, cuts other state spending
Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Public Media & KTOO, December 14, 2020

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday proposed a budget that would cut state spending on government services but would also pay out nearly $5,000 in Permanent Fund dividends.

It relies on drawing from the Alaska Permanent Fund’s earnings to both pay for most of state government and for two PFD payments. The total draw of $6.3 billion is more than twice the amount allowed under state law.

Dunleavy emphasizes the need to stabilize Alaska’s economy.

“We have thousands and thousands of Alaskans on unemployment,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re not going to add to the unemployment rolls, but we’re going to do the opposite.”

The governor also proposed borrowing up to $350 million to upgrade the state’s roads, bridges, airports, and other infrastructure.

The portion of the budget directly controlled by the Legislature — which is where Dunleavy’s budget will go next — would be $4.3 billion. It’s about $300 million less than this year’s budget.

His budget proposal would cut Medicaid by $35 million and public education by $21 million. It also would reduce spending on highways, aviation, and transportation facilities by $13 million and includes a previously planned cut to the University of Alaska of $20 million. 

Dunleavy said it’s important for the future of the state’s economy and the budget that Alaska develops its natural resources.

“There are folks that really don’t want that to happen,” he said. “They want Alaska to be one of the largest parks in the country.”


Climate change boosts support for divisive tech
Amy Harder, Axios, December 14, 2020

Julian Brave NoiseCat, an expert at a progressive think tank, doesn’t like nuclear power, but he’s willing to support it because of climate change.

Why he matters: NoiseCat personifies a shift in mindset among individuals, corporations and governments that’s set to accelerate under President-elect Joe Biden: The urgency of climate change is compelling support for controversial technologies.

What he’s saying: NoiseCat says his mindset has shifted in two areas: Nuclear power, which emits zero carbon, and technology that captures carbon dioxide from facilities’ emissions.

“There’s a common but often unacknowledged contradiction wherein activists like me insist that climate change is an existential crisis at the same time as we argue that specific political, legislative and technological pathways are off limits,” said NoiseCat, vice president of policy and strategy at Data for Progress.

“If we accept the former point, the latter point is untenable. You don’t tell the firefighters they can’t use ladders and fire retardant when your building is ablaze,” he said.

The big picture: The United Nations, the International Energy Agency, and most scientific and technical experts say nuclear power and carbon capture technology are essential to reach global goals to neutralize heat-trapping emissions by mid-century.

This is in addition to — not in replacement of — drastic increases in renewable energy. Citing those experts, Biden’s climate plan supports the tech too. Driving the news: These technologies have gained bipartisan support in Congress and states