May the odds be (N)ever in your favor: rough day for LNG, electric cars, permanent fund, and ANWR exploration

In Home, News by wp_sysadmin

LNG Pipeline just a pipe dream?
Brian Mazurek, Peninsula Clarion, February 6, 2019

“There is no LNG project coming in the near future.”

At the latest Kenai/Soldotna Joint Chamber Luncheon, speaker Larry Persily — a former federal official for Alaska gas pipeline projects and chief of staff for former borough mayor Mike Navarre — expressed doubts that the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) would make a final investment decision regarding this project by the end of 2019. “I don’t speak for them, I’m just telling you: there’s no possible way it could happen,” said Persily during his presentation at the Joint Chamber Luncheon on Wednesday. Persily laid out the reasons why he is convinced the pipeline is more of a pipe dream than a reality. Persily’s three main arguments revolved around increased competition from other LNG projects, decreased demand from China and a lack of essential pieces to the puzzle. Without any partners, customers or money, the Alaska LNG project seems to be dead in the water, he said.

Our take: While an economically viable LNG project is appealing, not having the appropriate market conditions certainly sounds like a reason to not pursue this project.


Governor calls for ‘full project review’ of Alaska LNG

AAA confirms what Tesla, BMW, Nissan electric car owners suspected — cold weather saps EV range. Even turning on the car drains power
Paul A. Eisenstein, CNCB, Feb. 6, 2019

Hoping to increase the appeal of their battery-electric vehicles, automakers have begun rolling out an assortment of “long-range” models, such as the Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Jaguar I-Pace and Nissan Leaf Plus. Under ideal conditions, these products can deliver more than 200 miles per charge and, in some cases, even 300. But as many owners discovered last week as winter storms slammed much of the country, cold weather does not qualify as “ideal.” A new AAA study finds that when the thermometer dropped to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, range fell by an average of 41 percent on the five models it tested.

Alaska Permanent Fund value drops 3.2% in first half of fiscal year amid volatile financial markets
Elwood Brehemer, ADN, February 7, 2019

“Within a long-term investment horizon, it is anticipated that the global markets will go up and down; it is a part of the buying, selling, trading process of the portfolio’s holdings,” Rodell said. “And while we invest with the intent that they will go up more than they go down, there are going to be dips. Our team is poised to take advantage of those dips.” Despite the negative returns, the fund outperformed the corporation’s passive investment index benchmark, which comparably measured losses of 6.54 percent in the first half of fiscal 2019, according to a Feb. 4 APFC release.

The challenging first half to fiscal 2019 is in stark contrast to 2018 when the corporation achieved returns of 10.74 percent. Calculated as 5.25 percent of the fund’s five-year average value, the fiscal 2020 percent of market value, or POMV, appropriation is expected to be roughly $2.9 billion.

Interior: No 3-D Seismic exploration in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this winter
Elizabeth Harball, Alaska Public Media, February 6, 2019

Seismic exploration can only be done in winter, and the company needed approvals from Interior to do the work. Originally, the agency had hoped to get the project permitted last summer. But in November, top Interior official Joe Balash acknowledged the agency was pressed for time to complete the approvals. Balash said it was taking time for the company to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service on compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. And according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News, the government shutdown further delayed the work.

Our take: Disappointing that we won’t see exploration this winter. Jobs lost due to permitting delays. We will continue to work with our state and federal administration to find ways to make permitting effective and efficient.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

MANCHIN: THE KEY IN PONDERING ‘IDEOLOGY’ VS. ‘REALITY’ OF THE GREEN NEW DEAL: Sen. Joe Manchin, the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, spent most of Thursday morning trying to get his head around the “Green New Deal,” as a resolution on the progressive agenda was being introduced in both chambers.

Manchin labeled the progressive green agenda a set of “ideological beliefs” at a committee hearing on energy innovation, but also said he wanted to understand the “real world” consequences of it and if other countries are going to follow the U.S. in pursuing the agenda.

Manchin said he feared “people using their own facts” to justify the agenda.

Thursday’s was the second hearing for Manchin as ranking member. He is a centrist Democrat with close ties to conservatives, but also wants to see investment by the government in transforming the fossil fuel industry — primarily coal — into a low-carbon energy.

He focused on two pieces of innovation to flesh out the low-emission side of the green agenda.

First, he wants to beef up the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, or at least see that the remaining $30-$40 billion that the program is authorized for is used for moving the ball forward to commercialize new energy technologies.

Ernest Moniz, the previous administration’s energy chief, suggested at the hearing that the committee could pass legislation to expand the loan program to include energy infrastructure development, which would be a change that would help the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Second, Manchin wants to see the successful commercialization of converting coal mines into resources for generating “rare earth” minerals needed to build the batteries for electric cars and other technologies required for renewables and other technology.

A principal for a project being advanced with federal help in his home state of West Virginia said the process should be commercial in a year.

The technology is focused on transitioning the coal mining industry toward a new, cleaner way of mining for minerals that will be needed for advanced technologies for a clean energy transition, but also for defense applications and things like iPhones.

Right now, most of the rare earth minerals the U.S. needs are imported from China.