Oil Search takes big step in AK project. Separating the COVID from the chaff.

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Oil Search presses ahead on $US3b Alaskan oil project
Angela Macdonald Smith, Financial Review, February 22, 2021

Oil Search has taken a major step towards construction of its first major project outside Papua New Guinea, committing to major engineering and design work on its $US3 billion ($3.8 billion) Pikka oil project in Alaska.

The project was one of several major growth investments across the petroleum sector that were put on hold last year after the oil price crashed in March but have since been revived.

After work last year to revamp it, the project is now expected to break even at less than $US40 per barrel for Brent crude including a 10 per cent return.

A final go-ahead for construction is targeted for later this year after Oil Search finds a third partner to join it in the venture alongside existing 49 per cent partner, Repsol of Spain.

The commitment on engineering involves the first phase of the revamped project, which will be able to produce 80,000 barrels a day of oil. The design of the venture was reworked last year to make it more economic, and to carry it out in phases, cutting capex by half. Production is due to start up in 2025.


Australian Gas Networks Looking to Include Hydrogen in Infrastructure
Pipeline & Gas Journal, February 22, 2021

Australia’s natural gas pipeline owners are working to future proof their A$75 billion ($59 billion) in assets amid a global push towards clean energy, running tests to blend hydrogen with gas and produce green methane to replace the fossil fuel.

Cashing in on rare bipartisan support for hydrogen across Australia’s national and state governments to help cut carbon emissions, pipeline and network owners have already committed A$180 million to a range of projects involving green hydrogen.

Australian states have pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with many developed countries, but Canberra has yet to commit to the 2050 timeframe.

“It’s a business risk we all need to manage,” said Ben Wilson, chief executive of Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG), owned by units of Hong Kong-based CK Group.

“What started out as defensive has become an opportunity, particularly given our renewable energy sources. We can become the world’s largest exporter of green hydrogen,” he told Reuters.

Pipeline owners seeking government funding for hydrogen projects aim to show how their infrastructure can be used to deliver hydrogen in blends with gas and store hydrogen as a form of renewable energy storage.


Could rare earth minerals be Alaska’s edge?
Peter Segall, The Juneau Empire, February 21, 2021

With the state and nation reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Lisa Murkowski said Alaska’s mineral wealth could offer the state a critical lifeline going forward.

President joe Biden may have started his administration by taking a hard line on environmental issues, including limiting oil production in Alaska, but his plan is going to require something Alaska has a lot of:  rare earth minerals. 


The Non-Covid Spending Blowout
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2021

Most of the $1.9 trillion House bill has little to do with the virus. Here is a breakdown.

The Biden White House is pointing to polls showing that its $1.9 trillion spending bill is popular, and the press corps is cheering. Yet we wonder how much public support there’d be if Americans understood that most of the blowout is a list of longtime Democratic spending priorities flying under the false flag of Covid-19 relief.

Let’s dig into the various House committee bills to separate the Covid from the chaff. The Covid cash includes some $75 billion for vaccinations, treatments, testing and medical supplies. There’s also $19 billion for “public health,” primarily for state health departments and community health centers.


Biden squeezed between promises to go green and bolster unions
Eric Wolff and Rebecca Rainey, Politico, February 21, 2021

President Joe Biden’s green energy agenda is in danger of being engulfed in a fight between organized labor and industry over unionization, wages, and other workplace issues.

As the renewable energy industry expands, unions and their allies in Congress are determined to unionize more of the jobs or, at the very least, require the payment of union-equivalent wages. But the industry says such moves would cripple some of their operations.

While both sides are eager to push clean energy projects forward and make them a bigger part of the nation’s electrical grid, their disagreements will test Biden’s vow to be both the greenest and the most pro-union president in history.

The clash is playing outin Congress, where Democrats are cranking out bills filled with carrots for developers of zero-emission infrastructure, but with pro-labor strings attached, including wage requirements, job certification and Buy American provisions. Labor groups skeptical of whether green jobs can adequately replace high-paying union jobs in the fossil industry see these provisions as the bare minimum, while solar and wind producers want to see those labor demands dialed down.