Haley Voters Pick Your Plot!

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Today’s Key Takeaways: Wyoming challenging China on rare earths? US oil production rises on more productive wells. Foreign oil majors are looking to invest in US LNG projects. Coal loading equipment in Seward to be demolished. Trump, Biden begin fight over Haley voters.


China’s Rare Earth Export Ban Is Backfiring
Metal Miner/OilPrice.Com, March 5, 2024

  • The rare earths market experiences significant fluctuations, with prices plunging due to weaker demand and shifts away from Chinese sources, compounded by export bans imposed by China.
  • Wyoming’s rare earth discovery raises hopes of reducing reliance on Chinese supply, potentially leading to a mining boom in the U.S. and altering global market dynamics.
  • Conflicting opinions among analysts regarding rare earth price trends in 2024 highlight uncertainties stemming from geopolitical unrest and economic volatility, emphasizing the need for caution in forecasting.

The Rare Earths MMI (Monthly Metals Index) experienced a pretty significant drop month-on-month, falling 24.73%. Save for cerium oxide, all components of the index either fell or moved sideways. Weaker than anticipated downstream demand ended up hitting certain metals related to rare earth magnets particularly hard, causing a plummet in the index.

Another significant factor impacting rare earths prices stems from nations continuing to source rare earths outside of China. Experts anticipate that such changes in rare earths production and logistics will continue affecting the index in both the short and long term.



More productive wells spur U.S. crude oil production higher
Energy Information Administration, March 5, 2024

U.S. crude oil production averaged 13.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in December 2023, following sustained productivity increases at new wells, according to our latest Petroleum Supply Monthly (PSM). U.S. crude oil production has increased to record highs since 2010 and has risen even more quickly in recent months. These record highs have come despite declining U.S. drilling activity because the new wells are more efficient.

Since first surpassing the previous record in August 2023, U.S. crude oil production has increased another 2%, exceeding the pre-pandemic November 2019 peak by 0.3 million b/d.

The number of new wells brought on line by drilling activity has historically been the key determinant of whether crude oil production increases or decreases. However, advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies have increased well productivity, enabling U.S. producers to extract more crude oil from new wells drilled while maintaining production from legacy wells.

Our Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) shows more production from a combination of increasing new well production and higher sustained legacy well production. We define new well production as crude oil extracted during the first 12 months of production, while legacy production is crude oil extracted after the initial 12 months. The share of legacy production since 2021 has remained stable, and production from new wells has continued to increase.


GULF STATE OIL MAJORS EYE U.S. LNG PROJECTS FOR INVESTMENT: Oil majors Saudi Aramco and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) are in talks to invest in U.S LNG projects, in a bid to compete with regional rival Qatar and help meet soaring global demand.

Reuters reports that Saudi Aramco is looking to invest in phase two of the Port Arthur-based Sempra Infrastructure Port, while UAE’s state-owned oil giant ADNOC is discussing investments with U.S. LNG firm NextDecade for a new offtake at its $18 billion Rio Grande export hub.

Industry groups have expressed fears over the Biden administration’s recent pause on new project approvals. And some investors have hesitated to back similar projects because of ESG pressures. “The message is: If ESG focused banks won’t finance U.S. projects, someone will,” Kaushal Ramesh, Rystad Energy’s vice president for LNG research, told the outlet.


Coal loading equipment in Seward is set to be demolished, likely a permanent end to Alaska coal exports
Kavitha George, Alaska Public Media, March 6, 2024

For thirty years Alaska had a small coal export industry, but with demolition slated for the state’s only coal loading facility, those days are likely gone forever.

At its peak in 2011, Alaska exported 1.1 million tons — or 18 ships’ worth — of coal annually. The coal traveled down the Alaska Railroad from the Usibelli Coal Mine in Healy to the Seward Coal Terminal. There, it was loaded on boats headed for South Korea, Japan, and Chile. 

But within five years, coal exports had dropped 95%. In 2016, the railroad and the mine shut it down.

“There simply wasn’t the global business to justify continuing with the operation at that time,” said Meghan Clemens, a spokesperson for the state-owned Alaska Railroad Corporation, which owns the Seward loading dock. 

Demand for coal never came back, a signal of the global energy transition toward lower carbon fuels. Meanwhile, the coal-loading equipment on the Seward dock has sat idle for eight years, deteriorating to the point that it is unusable. 

“It’s more of a liability than anything else right now,” Clemens said.

Now the railroad has decided to demolish the coal terminal in the hopes that it can find a new use for the dock. 

“With this equipment out of the way, how can we better use this dock in Seward to bring some additional business through town?” Clemens said.

Bidding on the project closed last week and Clemens said the railroad will soon select a contractor. She said the demolition budget is $1.5 million to start.



Trump and Biden already fighting over coveted Haley voters
Erin Doherty, Axios, March 6, 2024

Former President Trump and President Biden launched into a battle for Nikki Haley’s supporters on Wednesday, as she suspended her challenge of Trump for the GOP presidential nomination.

Why it matters: One of the biggest questions in the race for the White House is how Haley voters — a potentially difference-making chunk of the GOP electorate with moderates reluctant to back Trump — will choose in November.

  • Winning over this voting bloc, especially in suburban areas in battleground states, could be key to winning the general election.

Driving the news: Haley — who has called Trump unfit for office and questioned whether he’d follow the Constitution — didn’t endorse her fellow Republican, and instead said he will have to earn her voters’ support.

  • Trump has some making up to do with Haley’s backers. He repeatedly has called his former UN ambassador “Birdbrain,” and in January warned that anyone contributing to Haley’s campaign would be “permanently banned from the MAGA camp.”
  • On social media Wednesday, Trump made a caustic appeal to Haley supporters, writing: “Nikki Haley got TROUNCED last night” and belittling her wins in D.C. and Vermont — while in the same message inviting those supporters to “join the greatest movement in the history of our nation.”

Biden — whose campaign has been using Haley attack lines against Trump for weeks — took a more inclusive tone.

  • “Donald Trump made it clear he doesn’t want Nikki Haley’s supporters,” Biden said in a statement.
  • “I want to be clear: There is a place for them in my campaign.”

Haley campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas highlighted the differences between the Biden and Trump statements, posting on X: “A tale of two statements…”

Zoom in: Haley argued on the campaign trail that Trump cannot unite the GOP and win in November, pointing to polls that suggested she’d beat Biden.