Today’s Key Takeaways: 15,000 AK Voters decline to rank candidates in AK’s congressional election. AOGA conference delivers positive outlook – Alaska key to achieving energy independence. LNG investments to reach 42B by 2024- AK Senators urge DOI to move AKLNG forward. Ford asks U.S. government to speed up permitting for mining projects. Electric bikes victim of New York policy – and high prices.
NEWS OF THE DAY:
Peltola wins U.S. House race, first woman and Alaska Native to represent Alaska in House
James Brooks, Alaska Beacon, August 31, 2022
Palin falls short, with fellow Republican Begich’s voters splitting their next preference in ranked choice voting
Democrat Mary Peltola will become the first woman to represent Alaska in the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Alaska Native ever to serve in Congress.
The former state legislator and current tribal fisheries leader is the first Democrat to win a U.S. House race here in 50 years and will serve the remaining four months of the term left unfinished by the death of Congressman Don Young in March.
Peltola defeated Republican candidates Sarah Palin and Nick Begich in ranked choice voting results announced Wednesday, Peltola’s 49th birthday. All three candidates, plus Libertarian Chris Bye, will be on the ballot again in November as they seek election to a full two-year term.
“I’m just extremely grateful for the Alaskans who had faith in me and elected me to fill out the remainder of Congressman Young’s term,” Peltola said as she prepared to leave a post-result event, “and I am very hopeful that I can continue his legacy of working for all Alaskans and thinking about how to best meet Alaskans’ needs here during the short seat, but of course, saying focused on November and the two-year seat.”
The results remain preliminary, but the number of outstanding votes is not expected to change the results.
Some see Alaska as key to America’s energy independence
Lauren Maxwell, KTUU, August 31, 2022
This summer Alaskans felt the impact of world events on the energy market firsthand when soaring oil prices pushed up the cost of gasoline.
Alaska Oil and Gas Association Association President Kara Moriarty called it a lesson in supply and demand.
“We’ve seen that a disruption in supply and demand can happen overnight,” said Moriarty. “It can happen because of a pandemic, it can happen because of a European conflict, it can happen for a whole host of reasons. And so now, all of a sudden, the world is focused on safe places like America that has a lot of resources, and Alaska can be a key component of that.”
Alaska is key to achieving energy independence is a theme of this year’s annual Oil and Gas Association Conference, taking place Wednesday and Thursday at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage.
It’s a message not only relayed by the nonprofit, but also echoed by the state.
“As we look at a very unstable global environment, Alaska once again can play that very important role in being part of the United State’s effort to peaceably work with free peoples on delivering energy security without the threat of coercion,” said the acting Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Akis Gialopsos.
The oil industry in Alaska is facing challenges according to Moriarity. Thousands of industry jobs shed during the pandemic have not returned, and companies have had a hard time borrowing money for big projects
“There have been investment firms and banks that don’t want to invest in the Arctic for certain reasons — insurance companies. It is very challenging to attract investment,” Moriarty said.
This is why a recent announcement may be getting so much buzz. Last week the Australian Company Santos announced it was going forward with a $2.6 billion investment in the North Slope Pikka field. The new field is expected to produce 80,000 barrels of oil a day in phase one, which is scheduled to come online in 2026.
“Put that into context of our current production of 500 thousand barrels a day that’s a lot,” Moriarity said. “And this is just phase one of what they hope for a very, decades-long oil field on the North slope.”
LNG investments to reach $42 bill in 2024
LNG Journal, September 1, 2022
These greenfield investments will amount to 200 times the level seen in 2020 when just $2 bill was invested in LNG projects, due to the pandemic.
Conversely, project approvals after 2024 are forecast to fall off a cliff, as governments move away from fossil fuels and accelerate investments in low-carbon energy infrastructure.
New LNG projects are driven mainly by a short-term increase in natural gas demand in Europe and Asia, due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Spending on greenfield LNG projects this year and next will stay relatively flat, with $28 bill approved in 2021 and $27 bill this year. Investments sanctioned in 2023 will show a modest increase, nearing $32 bill, before peaking at $42 bill in 2024, Rystad’s research showed.
After this date, investments will decline and drop back to near 2020 levels going down to $2.3 bill in 2029. Despite an expected jump in 2030 when project announcements are forecast to total nearly $20 bill, investments are unlikely to return to 2024 levels, as countries scale up low-carbon technology projects.
Natural gas is a core component of many countries’ power generation systems and, although there is a move to reduce fossil fuel dependency and transition to a low-carbon power mix, demand for LNG is set to grow over the short term.
Global gas demand is expected to surge 12.5% between now and 2030, from about 4 trill cu m to around 4.5 trill. Gas demand in the Americas will remain relatively flat up to 2030.
However, in contrast, on the back of strong economic growth and governmental pro-gas policies, regional demand in Asia/ Pacific will soar, growing 30% from about 900 bill cu m to around 1.16 trill cu m by 2030.
The Americas – primarily the US – will account for 30% of the cumulative gas demand by 2030, while Asia/Pacific will make up 25%.
Supply to double
Helped by new infrastructure, total LNG supply is expected to almost double in the coming years, growing from around 380 mill tonnes per annum in 2021 to about 636 mill tonnes in 2030, with several major LNG projects already underway or in the pipeline. LNG production is predicted to peak at 705 mill tonnes per annum in 2034.
The US is set to solidify its place as a top LNG exporter, as increased domestic supply and higher prices in Europe and Asia encourage operators to sell gas overseas.
For example, the $10 bill Golden Pass LNG project in Texas, a joint venture between QatarEnergy (70%) and ExxonMobil (30%), is expected to start production by 2024, adding export capabilities to the Sabine Pass LNG terminal totaling around 18 mill tonnes per annum.
Venture Global’s Plaquemines LNG in Louisiana – a $13.2 bill development sanctioned earlier this year – is expected to produce about 24 mill tonnes and start up in 2025.
Playing catch up
Elsewhere, Qatar, Mozambique and Russia are playing catch up. Qatar, already a major producer, aims to boost LNG export capacity to 126 mill tonnes by 2027 from its current 77 mill tonnes. Energy heavyweights, ExxonMobil, Shell, TotalEnergies, Eni and ConocoPhillips are to join state-owned QatarEnergy in the North Field East (NFE) expansion project, which is set to raise capacity to 110 mill tonnes per annum.
Russian volumes are primarily dependent on the successful completion of the NOVATEK-operated Arctic LNG 2 project, which could be in jeopardy, as sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict have led to delays in the commissioning of Trains 2 and 3.
Project partners TotalEnergies and JOGMEC have stopped the financing related to the scheme, which was followed by the withdrawal of contractor Linde.
In Africa, Mozambique will see its first LNG production by the end of 2022 via the under-development, Eni-operated Area 4 (Coral South) LNG project. This project will provide around 150 mill cu ft per day of gas to the domestic market.
Projects that have been approved or are currently being developed will recover about 300 trill cu ft of LNG, led by the US with approximately 97 trill, then Qatar with about 52 trill and Russia at 50 trill cu ft.
These three countries alone hold around 70% of the total sanctioned, yet-to-be-produced global LNG resource, Rystad said.
Sens. Sullivan, Murkowski urge US Department of Energy on AKLNG project
KINY Radio, August 31, 2022
U.S. Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski have sent a letter to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm expressing their support for the Alaska LNG project.
The letter also urges the department to “complete, without delay, finalization of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement” for the project.
“Given the United States is on the brink of an economic recession, coupled with record energy prices, completion of the regulatory process for AKLNG should be a top priority,” Sens. Sullivan and Murkowski wrote. “AKLNG is the only federally permitted LNG export project on the West Coast, has 41.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas readily available, and provides a number of strategic geopolitical benefits. In fact, AKLNG would provide a supply of long-term, clean natural gas critical to our energy security and the growing global demand for energy, given Alaska has enough available gas to reduce our reliance on authoritarian foreign adversaries. Our global network of allies, military strength, world-class energy resources, dynamic economy, and most important, our democratic values and commitment to liberty, will put the United States at a distinct advantage, compared to the dictatorships of countries like China and Russia, if utilized correctly.”
Ford asks US gov’t to speed up mining permits
Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, August 31, 2022
US carmaker Ford Motor is asking the Biden administration to speed up the permitting process for mining projects, particularly those targeting critical metals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite.
In a letter to the Department of the Interior on Tuesday, the auto maker said the current “lengthy, costly and inefficient permitting process” makes it difficult for American businesses to invest in the extraction and processing of critical minerals in the country.
Chris Smith, chief of government affairs, noted it takes up to 10 years to complete the current permitting requirements for critical mineral mining in the US. In Canada and Australia, similar processes take two to three years “while maintaining stringent environmental standards,” he wrote, according to Automotive News.
The federal government should limit permitting to a similar timeline in the US and expand implementation of the Defense Production Act to expedite battery mineral projects on federal lands, Smith said.
The company also asked the agency to fund research and mapping of critical mineral deposits in the US, increase transparency in the permitting process and include emissions assessments in permitting evaluations.
The comment was in response to the Interior Department’s request for input as it develops recommendations related to mining laws.
Ford has inked a flurry of supply deals in recent months to accelerate its shift to electric vehicles (EVs).
The agreements include sourcing battery capacity and raw materials from such companies as Chinese battery maker CATL and Rio Tinto.
The company is also working with LG Energy Solution and its long-time battery partner SK Innovation.
Last month, the company said it had secured enough battery supply to build more than half a million EVs annually by late next year, a quantum leap above the 27,140 battery-powered cars it sold in the US last year. The firm has also signed contracts with suppliers representing 60 gigawatt hours of annual battery capacity.
NYC may ban e-bikes in public housing following a spate of fires
Maria Galluci, Canary Media, September 1, 2022
On Gustavo Ajche’s busiest shifts, he can deliver takeout dinners and groceries to two dozen doorsteps across New York City. Riding a sturdy bicycle with fat tires, he zips beneath Manhattan’s soaring buildings, propelled by his two feet and the lithium-ion battery attached to the bike’s frame. The extra juice enables him to cover more ground in a job that is only growing more physically demanding as home deliveries surge.
“Sometimes for a delivery, you have to travel 30 blocks away, 50 blocks away,” Ajche says on a rainy afternoon in late August, during a pause between orders for the delivery apps DoorDash and Grubhub. “Using a regular bike before was really, really hard. These e-bikes make it a lot easier for us.”
Ajche is the founder of Los Deliveristas Unidos, a collective of app delivery workers who advocate for better working conditions. Some 65,000 people now ferry food, medications, bottles of wine, and clothing through the city’s crowded streets. Like Ajche, the vast majority of couriers rely on two-wheeled transportation — and, increasingly, battery power — to perform their gig work.
Most recently, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has proposed banning the loosely defined category of “e-bikes” from public-housing apartments, where many delivery workers live. The proposal, announced in July, is meant to address a serious problem: the rising number of building fires linked to lithium-ion batteries. In the latest incident, in early August, a 5-year-old girl and a 36-year-old woman died after the battery of an electric moped — also referred to as scooters — exploded inside an apartment in Harlem.
Shoddy manufacturing and tampering can lead to e-bike battery fires
Lithium-ion batteries are generally considered to be safe. The smartphones that we carry in our pockets have them; a rising number of us sit above them in our electric vehicles. Batteries used for bicycles and mopeds are no different, and many come certified by Underwriters Laboratories, whose battery safety standards are among the most stringent.
The problem is that sturdy certified batteries are typically much more expensive to make and buy than poorly assembled versions. Ajche said his bicycle with the electric “pedal assist” is of good quality and costs around $2,000. But other models used by delivery workers, including more powerful mopeds, can be found online for half the price, if not less.
A battery fire involves three components: heat, oxygen, and fuel. The cells in lithium-ion batteries contain oxygen atoms and liquid electrolytes — the fuel — as part of their chemistry. If a battery overheats, or if it’s punctured, the three components can start feeding off each other, causing extremely hot explosions and releasing toxic gas. Higher-quality cells are built to prevent internal shocks from happening and to better withstand external shocks.
“We’ve learned to be very careful, to make sure we’re controlling the way that energy is released,” said Venkat Srinivasan, a battery scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago. “But if you’re being shoddy and you aren’t taking the time to do all these things very carefully, it’s very easy to release that energy in an uncontrolled fashion.”