NSB & ASRC Join Lawsuit. Binding Merger for Oil Search. AU at Chandalar.

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North Slope Borough & ASRC Join AIDEA Lawsuit Against Biden for Violation of ANWR 1002 Leases
(Anchorage) – Wednesday, December 8, 2021, the North Slope Borough and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) joined the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) in its lawsuit against President Joe Biden. The revised complaint is in direct response to the Biden Administration’s unlawful actions to obstruct and delay the development of AIDEA’s valid oil and gas leases in the Coastal Plain (Section 1002 Area) of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The North Slope Borough and ASRC are key stakeholders that represent significant portions of the people and lands across Alaska’s North Slope and are an important voice regarding the future use of the area. “AIDEA’s projects must ultimately meet two very important criteria—be a good financial investment and to have community support. Being joined by the North Slope Borough and ASRC in this lawsuit shows me that this project absolutely meets both of those criteria,” said AIDEA Board Chair Dana Pruhs.

“ASRC has fought for nearly 40 years to open the 1002 Area of the Coastal Plain of ANWR for responsible development,” said ASRC President and CEO Rex Rock Sr. Our perspective is based on the dual realities that our culture and communities depend on a healthy ecosystem and subsistence resources as well as natural resource development as the foundation of a sustained North Slope economy.”

Much of the economic development and jobs supported across the eight North Slope Alaska Native communities is the result of responsible development of oil and gas resources. Public funding from taxes on oil and gas infrastructure has significantly contributed to economic security within these communities and provided revenue to fund local services, schools, health clinics, housing, emergency response, water and wastewater, heat and electric utilities, and countless essential services.

“Our region has supported for decades, safe and responsible oil and gas development in the Arctic under stricter environmental standards than anywhere else in the world. Yet the federal government is focused on trying to stop our ability to produce oil and gas,” said North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower Jr. “Since the 1970s, Alaska has proven that energy development and environmental conservation can proactively co-exist. As Iñupiat, we maintain our traditional values, while our culture continues to evolve and adapt to the changing world around us. We support AIDEA and the Governor for continuing this fight.”

“The voices of the people who live in and around the Section 1002 Area of ANWR have been drowned out by Washington D.C.-based groups that have never set foot in Alaska,” said AIDEA Executive Director Alan Weitzner. “Responsible development of ANWR is supported by a majority of Alaskans, the VOICE of the Arctic Iñupiat, Governor Dunleavy, Alaska’s congressional delegation, and the Alaska State Legislature. We are proud to be joined by the North Slope Borough and ASRC as we defend our legal rights to promote economic opportunities for Alaskans.”


Merger between Santos and Oil Search is binding
Russell Searanke, Upstream, December 9, 2021

Papua New Guinea’s national court has ordered the merger agreement between Oil Search and Santos be binding, and that the merger should take effect from 10 December.

The court made the orders on 9 December, approving the scheme of arrangement under which Santos will acquire all of the shares in Oil Search in return for the issue of new Santos shares to Oil Search shareholders.

Court approval is the final step in the regulatory process following on from the PNG competition watchdog approving the merger on 8 December, and Oil Search shareholders accepting the takeover on 7 December.

Oil Search said it intends to apply for its shares to be suspended from trading on the PNG and Australian stock exchanges with effect from the close of trade on 10 December.

Santos said in a filing to the Australian bourse it proposes to issue 1.3 billion new Santos shares.

Oil Search shareholders will be issued 0.6275 new Santos shares for each fully paid ordinary Oil Search share; giving Oil Search shareholders a 38.5% ownership in the merged company and existing Santos shareholders 61.5%.

The combined company will have a pro forma market capitalization of more than A$20 billion,

Combined proven plus probable reserves and best estimate contingent resources will be nearly 4.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent, while 2020 production would be 118 million boe, with a power base of production and development projects in Australia and PNG.


Conoco Pivots to LNG in the Asia-Pacific Region
Kevin Crowley, Catherine Traywick, Bloomberg, December 8, 2021

ConocoPhillips intends to become the largest shareholder in Australia Pacific LNG as it raises its stake in the development as part of a reshuffle of its Asian assets. 

The Houston-based company will exercise preemption rights to buy an additional 10% stake in Australia Pacific LNG for as much as $1.6 billion, bringing its share to 47.5%, according to a statement Tuesday. Sydney-based Origin Energy had agreed to sell the stake to energy investor EIG Partners. China’s Sinopec is also a partner, owning 25%.

At the same time, ConocoPhillips agreed to sell its Indonesia oil assets for $1.36 billion, MedcoEnergi, along with a 35% stake in Transasia Pipeline Company. The assets produced about 50,000 barrels of oil-equivalent per day during the third quarter of 2021.

The moves come after the U.S. oil major posted its highest quarterly profit in a decade and completed two major acquisitions that made ConocoPhillips the second-largest shale oil producer in the Permian Basin. The Australian liquefied natural gas assets, which sells cargoes to Asia, provides access to rapidly-growing markets and their low-field declines complements shale production, which suffered fast-dropping oil flows after the first year. 

“The Asia Pacific region plays an important role in our diversification advantage as an independent E&P and these two transactions enhance that advantage by lowering our aggregate decline rate and diversifying our product mix,” Chief Executive Ryan Lance said in the statement. 

The company’s 2020 production from Australia LNG project was approximately 115 million barrels of oil-equivalent, with full-year 2021 distributions expected to be approximately $750 million, according to the statement. The project supplies LNG to long-term buyers in both China and Japan and is the largest supplier of natural gas to Australia’s East coast market, the statement said. 

Flush with cash, the company announced this week that it would offer a $1 billion variable cash payout to its shareholders in addition to its regular dividend and share buyback program. 


Goldrich Mining Applies for Drill Permits on High Priority Lode Gold Target at Chandalar Property
Yahoo! Finance, December 8, 2021

/ ACCESSWIRE / December 8, 2021 /Goldrich Mining Company (OTCQB:GRMC) (“Goldrich” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce the Company has submitted a permit application to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) to carry out a multi-year, 25,000-foot diamond core drill program at the Company’s Chandalar Property. Upon approval and subject to financing, Goldrich plans to commence an initial 12,000-foot program in May 2022.

Drill Target Zone

The target zone of the drill program, located on the Little Squaw Creek (“LSC”) drainage, is immediately above and partially overlapping the LSC placer deposit and mine – historically among the largest placer deposits and producing placer mines in North America (see “Goldrich Mining Releases Initial Assessment Report; Results Indicate Robust Project Economics of US$64 Million After-tax NPV” news release dated June 11, 2021). The target zone sits at the heart of a zone surrounded by historic placer workings in every creek and four historic hard-rock gold mines. The angularity of the placer gold nuggets also indicates close proximity to a hard-rock source.

Intrusive-related Gold Source

Dr. Michael Rasmussen, a director of Goldrich, notes “Compounding geologic evidence points to gold mineralization emplaced by a magmatic-hydrothermal system which formed underlying bodies of felsic intrusive igneous rock (i.e., granitoid plutons) now considered by Goldrich’s geologists to be the primary source of Chandalar district’s placer gold. Such geologic data puts the district in a geologic category similar to Fort Knox (13.6 million oz.) and Donlin Creek (45 million oz.) – also known for their historic placer gold production.”

Recognition of the Chandalar magmatic-hydrothermal alteration system comes from considering a raft of geologic factors including structural, petrographic, geochemical, and geophysical evidence – including previous lode drilling in the upper reaches of Little Squaw Creek that discovered significant zones of gold-bearing pegmatitic dikelets (< 2 feet thick), often associated with heavily chloritized schist with gold and gold associated (arsenopyrite) minerals in them. The small dikes are composed of quartz, siderite and feldspars that are completely hydrothermally altered to clays. Importantly, the dikelets contain high-temperature accessory minerals indicative of intrusive association, notably xenotime and baddeleyite.

A similar conclusion of the intrusive-related source of the gold is expressed in Alaska Open-file Report 158 entitled “Source of Lode and Placer Gold Deposits of the Chandalar and Upper Koyukuk Districts, Alaska”, 1982, by John Dillon and published by the DNR. Mr. Dillon concludes “The most likely prospects for further gold deposits are in the roofs and cupolas of granitic plutons”.

It is noteworthy that the United States Geological Survey (“USGS”) Open-File Report 66-53 included considerations that the Kobuk Trench may be an offset or splay of the Tintina fault system, which province holds many giant gold deposits that are an important driver of Alaska’s economy. The Chandalar gold district is proximal to the Kobuk Trench, and as such may host similar gold deposits.

Proposed Drill Pad Sites and Drill Holes

The proposed diamond core drilling application involves six drill pads from which multiple holes may be completed. The drill sites are in mountainous terrain with elevations ranging from about 2,600 to 4,650 feet. The drill pads are shown in Figures #1, #3, and #4 and the geographic coordinates of the drill pads are listed in the table of proposed drill pad sites (Fig. #2).

Most of the proposed drill pads are currently situated at either mine sites, wide spots in existing roads, or former drill sites. Tentatively, the drilling campaign will start on proposed drill pad site #3 (Fig. 1). Thereafter, drill hole placements and sequencing will be contingent on the geological findings of prior drill holes. A combination of angle and vertical HQ size drill holes could be used on any site, probably with reductions to NQ size holes for the longer holes. Drill hole penetration could reach up to 3,000 feet vertically below surface. The sum total footage of some combination of vertical and angle drill holes is expected to reach approximately 25,000 feet. The drill program is a multi-year program. Each drilling campaign will be confined to summer seasons between approximately May 1st and September 30th of each year, subject to weather.

Because the Chandalar mining district is well-served by a system of developed and well-used access roads and pathways connecting all the historic mines and most prospect diggings, there is no need for a helicopter-supported drill program. The existing network of old roads and track trails can be used for accessing all of the proposed drill pad sites. At this time, no new accesses are anticipated to be constructed.


Gov: Fossil fuels will spur growth of renewable energy
Alex Appel, Kodiak Daily Mirror, December 8, 2021

The state of Alaska is making progress in renewable energy investments, according to Gov. Mike Dunleavy. But despite these strides the state will continue to depend on oil and gas for energy and revenue. It also will continue to support the addition of more oil rigs across the state, including Cook Inlet.


DOE fossil office outlines ‘historical shift’ on climate
Carlos Anchondo, ENERGYWIRE, December 9, 2021

The Department of Energy’s fossil office released a statement this week saying that it will center its work on climate and focus on achieving net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century.

The office, which officially added “carbon management” to its name in July 2021, said that the name adjustment is “not a rebranding,” but part of a “historical shift in focus” for the department.

The office “will play a significant role in advancing the technology needed to address our climate challenges, while ensuring we can reliably meet our energy needs,” said the statement from three authors, including Jennifer Wilcox, the principal deputy assistant secretary of energy for the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM). Shuchi Talati, the office’s chief of staff, and Emily Doran, a special assistant undersecretary for science and energy, also signed.

“Through recent organizational changes, we have refocused FECM to center our work on climate — concentrating on research, development, demonstration, and deployment priorities that will pave the way for achieving net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century,” they said.

A spokesperson for FECM added yesterday that the office’s name change “reflects the recognition that the decarbonization of the nation’s energy and industrial sectors, along with the management of the carbon associated with the use of fossil fuels, are critical factors to addressing the climate crisis.”

The office’s stated shift has coincided with the addition of senior officials with extensive roots in carbon capture and removal, like Wilcox and Talati, as well as the nomination of Brad Crabtree, a leading carbon capture advocate, to serve as DOE’s assistant secretary for fossil energy and carbon management (Greenwire, Sept. 3). Supporters of carbon capture say the technology is needed to remove emissions from fossil fuels that will remain online for decades, and could be essentially for decarbonizing sectors like cement and steel.

Crabtree’s nomination advanced out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month, but still needs full Senate approval (Greenwire, Nov. 2).

On a webinar last week, Wilcox said the office’s reorganization is meant to be reflective of the office’s new name and the Biden administration’s climate goals, including a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 to 52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

To align with those goals, the office should focus on mitigating the environmental impact of resource recovery and use, and managing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use, according to Wilcox’s slideshow presentation.

For example, FECM’s Office of Resource Sustainability, previously the oil and gas office, is “investing in approaches that minimize the environmental impacts of how we extract oil, gas and coal out of the Earth today,” said Wilcox.

She said that could range from preventing induced seismicity, like from the injection of oil and gas wastewater, or mitigating methane.

Wilcox said the Office of Carbon Management is focused on the pollution associated with “how we use fossil fuels for energy generation,” adding that those two offices are “absolutely coupled.”

The office also has made other structural changes. For example, there is no longer a “clean coal and carbon management” suboffice as there was during the Trump administration. An office of carbon management technologies now includes branches such as “hydrogen with carbon management,” according to an organizational chart cited by the statement.

The statement also emphasizes addressing “energy inequities” in regards to carbon and air capture. “As we adapt our focus, we will continue to promote job-preserving and job-creating investments in the communities that have worked so hard to supply the energy demands of the last century,” the statement said.

The issue has been a source of contention, with a group of environmental justice advisers convened by President Biden earlier this year saying that carbon capture technologies would not benefit disadvantaged communities (Energywire, May 17).

Wilcox also emphasized the importance of public engagement to FECM.

“We want to be able to make sure that we have communication with communities, to make sure that there’s an understanding of the technology that’s being deployed, and that also … that the benefits to the communities are realized,” Wilcox said.

“And so, this is a really big component to the work that we’re doing,” Wilcox added.

Nick Loris, vice president of public policy at the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions, said yesterday that FECM’s rebranding better encapsulates the office’s research coverage.

“The name change signals to me that the work of FECM goes well beyond” carbon capture and storage, Loris said, noting that in the past, there was perception that the Office of Fossil Energy’s work was limited strictly to CCS and not other areas like direct air capture.

Others have been critical of the office’s shift.

“Moving from promoting fossil energy to promoting fossil energy with taxpayer-funded carbon capture doesn’t sound like the transformative change our energy system needs,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, in a statement.

John Noël, a senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace USA, also took aim at CCS, saying a focus on the technology “delays the transition to clean energy” and “perpetuates the racist health impacts of the fossil fuel industry.”