The US must protect free markets in the oil price war
Ryan Sitton, Bloomberg, March 20, 2020
Uncertain times are upon us. Our jobs and way of life are being affected by the coronavirus pandemic and by the measures being taken to halt its spread. While these measures are necessary, they are also suppressing demand for goods and services, crippling key parts of our economy. Many families will soon feel a great deal of economic pain, if they aren’t already. One silver lining is that gasoline prices have plummeted to near-record lows. Low gas prices are usually great for jobs and the economy, but they carry dangers under the current circumstances. It feels great to fill up for less and less each day, but the companies that produce our energy cannot sustain these prices.
Canada prepares multi- billion dollar bailout for its oil industry
Irina Slav, OILPRICE.COM, March 20, 2020
The federal government of Canada is preparing a multi-billion dollar financial aid package for the oil and gas industry and could announce it as soon as next week, the Globe and Mail reports, citing unnamed sources. Among the measures discussed were access to more credit, especially for smaller businesses, and job creation for the workers who will likely be laid off amid the price crisis.
Russia introduces tax relief for new Arctic LNG projects
Reuters, March 18, 2020
Russia introduced fresh tax relief on Wednesday for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the Arctic, focused on those intended to come on stream from 2022, the text of a law signed by President Vladimir Putin showed. The zero-rate extraction tax on natural gas will primarily benefit independent gas producer Novatek, which plans to boost production in the region. The law also included taxation support for the Vankor group of oilfields being developed by Rosneft.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
COAL MINING WANTS FEDERAL HELP, TOO: With all the attention on the oil markets and U.S. shale producers, the coal industry wants Trump and Congress to know it’s also suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is imperative to keep these plants online,” National Mining Association president Rich Nolan wrote Trump, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the week. He suggested Trump could use authorities under the Defense Production Act to help keep coal plants operating and able to provide power during the outbreak.
The industry is also asking Congress to suspend or ease up on a number of payments coal companies must make, including the Black Lung excise tax, abandoned mine fees, and federal royalty payments. In addition, Nolan asks that policies to increase credit availability be expanded to include all businesses “without prejudice or discrimination,” citing financial institutions have divested from coal in recent years “under pressure from environment groups.”
Coal mining as “essential industry”: In a separate letter, West Virginia Congressman David McKinley, a Republican who chairs the Coal Caucus, reiterated many of the same requests and urged Trump to designate coal mining as an “essential industry.” That would mean the industry would be exempt from being shuttered if states order businesses to close during the outbreak.
McKinley has good reason to worry: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, ordered all “non-life-sustaining” businesses in the state to close by 8 p.m. Thursday. Coal mining didn’t qualify as life-sustaining. Oil and gas extraction did.
House passes immediate relief for laid off workers affected by COVID 19
Jennifer Williams, KSRM, March 19, 2020
The House of Representatives passed a bill, on Thursday, that will make sure individuals impacted by COVID-19 can receive Unemployment Insurance as quickly as possible. House Bill 308 passed the House in a vote of 38-0, just one day after being introduced. Representative Gary Knopp (R-Kenai): “In times of crisis, we have to cut the red tape so that Alaskan families who are worried about paying for groceries or housing know that they will have some help. I’m pleased at the speed HB 308 passed the floor and grateful for the members who voted to help Alaskans out in these trying times.”
Dunleavy recall slows to a crawl as coronavirus cancels events
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, March 20, 2020
The campaign seeking to remove Gov. Mike Dunleavy from office has stopped most signature-gathering in an attempt to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. In a series of social media messages, campaign chairwoman Meda DeWitt said events statewide have been canceled. That move follows action last week to suspend signature-gathering events in Anchorage.