News of the Day: Regulators give conditional OK to key part of BP Alaska sale
Alaska predicts crude production drop, then recovery with new projects
Tim Bradner, S & P Global Platts, December 15, 2020
Alaska North Slope production is expected to average 477,294 b/d in the state’s Fiscal Year 2021, the current budget year that ends June 30, but could drop to 439,587 b/d in Fiscal 2022, the state Revenue Department has said.
Production is expected to recover to 446,963 b/d on FY 2023 and 263,335 in Fiscal 2024, the department said Dec. 14. The estimates are mid-case forecasts. The revenue department also developed high and low cases.
“Drilling and investment were sharply reduced this year, and are reflected in the lower near-term forecast, but we are hopeful that new developments will contribute to stabilizing production over the coming decade,” Revenue Commissioner Linda Mahoney said in a statement.
North Slope fields are expected to be back to an average of 481,843 b/d by FYl 2030 based on plans for new projects by producers, Mahoney said.
The Revenue Department also included estimates for Cook Inlet, in southern Alaska, which is forecast to produce 15,400 b/d on average in FY 2021, down from an average of 17,900 b/d the previous year.
US oil lobby launches program to reduce emissions from flaring of natural gas
Josh Siegel, The Washington Examiner, December 16, 2020
The largest United States oil lobbying group is launching a program encouraging companies to curb flaring, the practice of intentionally burning natural gas, which has become a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
The American Petroleum Institute will announce Wednesday morning that it is expanding its Environmental Partnership initiative to include a program in which participating companies report data on how much they flare and share best practices on how to limit it.
“This program will help the industry collectively improve operations and continue to drive down emissions,” Matthew Todd, program director of the Environmental Partnership, told the Washington Examiner.
The American Petroleum Institute created the partnership in 2017 to encourage oil and gas companies to reduce leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas more potent but shorter-lived in the atmosphere than carbon, in the course of their operations.
Strategic metals firepower for Pentagon
Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News, December 15, 2020
The $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 passed by Congress last week instructs the Pentagon to secure domestic and allied sources of strategic minerals and metals.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the striking vulnerabilities and gaps in our domestic supply chains, and the need to invest in critical mineral manufacturing and processing has taken on a new urgency,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who authored two amendments addressing the United States’ dependence on China and other foreign countries for critical minerals and metals.
The defense funding act directs the Pentagon to:
• Secure sources of strategic minerals and metals by 2030 that will fully meet U.S. defense demands; eliminate the dependence on unsecure sources; and ensure that the U.S. military is not reliant upon unsecure sources for the processing or manufacturing of any strategic mineral and metal.
• Provide incentives for robust processing and manufacturing capabilities to refine strategic minerals and metals needed by the Department of Defense within the U.S.
• Maintain secure sources of supply of strategic minerals and metals required to maintain current military requirements in the event that international supply chains are disrupted.
Groups seek to block lease plans for Alaska refuge
Becky Bohrer, Associated Press, December 16, 2020
Indigenous and conservation groups asked a federal judge Tuesday to block the Trump administration from issuing oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The groups in separate filings requested a decision by Jan. 6, the date of a scheduled lease sale.
They say the issuance of leases and proposed seismic exploration should be halted pending resolution of their claims challenging the adequacy of environmental reviews on which the sale and exploration plans are based.
Karlin Itchoak, Alaska state director for The Wilderness Society, in a statement said the Trump administration’s “relentless pursuit of a lease sale and destruction of the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge” forced groups to seek an injunction.
CLIMATE CHANGE CONVERSATIONS
Biden’s green team emerges
Ben Geman, Axios, December 16, 2020
The incoming Joe Bidenadministration just filled in some of the biggest blanks on its energy and climate team, and the decisions say plenty about its approach.
Catch up fast: Obama-era EPA boss Gina McCarthy is slated to be named Biden’s White House domestic climate policy adviser to lead a government-wide policy push.
- Ali Zaidi, a top New York State energy and climate official, is expected to be named her deputy. Neither role requires Senate confirmation.
- Biden is expected to nominate former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as secretary of Energy.
- Michael Regan, North Carolina’s top environmental regulator, has emerged as a leading candidate for the nominee to run EPA.
- Biden announced he’s nominating Pete Buttigieg as secretary of transportation.
1. Executive experience is at a premium. That makes sense because the odds of steering major climate legislation through Congress are very low.
- The New York Times reports that climate advocates see choosing McCarthy as a “signal that the administration was prepared to bypass Congress and enact measures using executive authority to begin bringing down greenhouse gases.”
2. A related point: Familiarity with the federal regulatory process is important for the Biden team.
- McCarthy has that. So does Zaidi, who was a senior official in President Obama’s White House Office of Management and Budget.
- And Regan was at EPA during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
3. It’s top-heavy. The Biden team is concentrating a lot of policy power in the White House.
- McCarthy, a prominent name in the climate world, will be the domestic counterpart to special climate envoy John Kerry, the highest-profile name on Biden’s climate and energy team.
- Kerry’s job, while under the State Department’s purview, includes a seat on the National Security Council.
4. Cars — Granholm is very familiar with the auto sector. That matters because Biden hopes to greatly speed up adoption of electric vehicles as part of his energy and climate agenda.
5. The new picks have avoided inflaming intra-Democratic tensions. Groups on the left flank of the green movement last night applauded the choices of McCarthy and Granholm.