Oil is stable, Poland wants US LNG, Hollis is out

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Oil Has Best Start to a Year Ever as OPEC Production Falls
Amrith Ramkumar, Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2019

Oil prices are off to their best-ever start to a year as fears of a supply glut cool, part of a 2019 recovery in risky investments from stocks to commodities. Oil prices and energy stocks rose Wednesday after data showed U.S. stockpiles fell unexpectedly last week. Fears linger that demand for oil will stall. But the International Energy Agency still expects consumption to increase each quarter this year from a year earlier, albeit at a slower-than-usual pace in the first quarter. Additionally, Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have curbed output, despite calls from President Trump for the cartel to keep prices low. Anxiety also remains about the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, fueling bets that prices can at least stay steady even if the rally stalls.

Related: Oil Holds Losses Below $56 After Trump Warns Against High Prices

Tim Gosling, Natural Gas World, February 26, 2019

State-controlled PGNiG is set to agree to buy a further 3bn m3/year, according to the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily. That would boost Poland’s planned purchases of US LNG following 2022 by 40%. Late last year Poland agreed several long-term deals that will see it import around 6.7bn m3/yr from the US.  PGNiG is at the forefront of the Polish government’s push to increase independence from Russian supplies, and establish itself as a hub for the region. Gazprom currently supplies around 10mn m3/y of Poland’s annual consumption of 16mn m3/yr. The pair’s long-term contract expires in 2022. Poland says it does not plan to extend the agreement.

The push to phase out heavy fuel oil in the Arctic continues
Jane George, ArcticToday, February 27, 2019

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said that reducing the risks linked to use of the fuel, commonly known as HFO, in the Arctic is “imperative” as the organization’s High Level Conference on Climate Change and Oceans Preservation in Brussels before the IMO meeting got underway in London on Tuesday, Feb. 19.  Canada, along with Russia, remains one of the few countries that haven’t taken a position on the ban.  This wasn’t always the case. In late 2016, Canada stated it supported a “phase down” on HFO in its Arctic waters. “Since then, Canada’s position on a HFO ban has changed — it no longer actively supports the ban — a stark contrast to many progressive countries — such as Nordic nations — who vocally support the ban,” said the Clean Arctic Alliance. Meanwhile, Canada has called for assessments into the impacts of an HFO ban on Arctic Indigenous communities.

Our take: Environmental conservation efforts should not come at the cost of communities. Canada’s approach of ensuring that there are no adverse impacts to Arctic communities should be applauded. Meanwhile, as Arctic traffic is increases, moving toward vessel fuel that produces lower emissions and presents a lower spill risk is prudent.

Governor fires chair of Alaska oil and gas commission
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News, February 26, 2019

Gov. Mike Dunleavy Tuesday removed the chair of the commission overseeing oil and gas activity, citing “neglect of duty,” following complaints from two commissioners that Hollis French spent limited time at work. The governor said his decision to remove French from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was “effective immediately,” according to a short letter addressed to French Tuesday and released by the governor’s office.