Sitka strikes gold. Gas sufficiency just a dream for China? 60 to-dos for climate.

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Brent cracks $70 for first time since pandemic began after Saudi facilities attacked
Oil & Gas 360, March 8, 2021

Brent crude futures jumped above $70 a barrel on Monday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, while U.S. crude touched its highest in more than two years, following reports of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities.

Brent crude futures for May reached $71.16 a barrel in early Asian trade and were at $70.76 a barrel by 0036 GMT, up $1.40, or 2%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for April rose $1.32, or 2%, to $67.41. The front-month WTI price touched $67.86 a barrel earlier, the highest since October 2018.

“Oil prices have spiked higher this morning after Iran-backed Houthi rebels unleashed a coordinated attack on Saudi Arabia oil facilities and military bases,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi said in a note.

Yemen’s Houthi forces fired drones and missiles at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Sunday, including a Saudi Aramco facility at Ras Tanura vital to petroleum exports, in what Riyadh called a failed assault on global energy security.

Brent and WTI prices are up for the fourth consecutive session after OPEC and their allies decided to keep production cuts largely unchanged in April.

Despite fast-rising crude prices, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister has voiced doubts on demand recovery.

Still, the energy minister in the world’s third-largest crude importer, India, said higher prices could threaten the consumption led-recovery in some countries.


Gas Imports Surge As China Sees Coldest Winter In Decades
Charles Kennedy, OilPrice.Com, March 8, 2021

Natural gas imports to China jumped by 17.4 percent on the year in the first two months of the year to 28.68 billion cubic meters thanks to the coldest winter in decades, according to Platts data.

The harsh winter in Asia drove a huge spike in demand for natural gas in the region, which led to a surge in spot market LNG prices. Now, this demand is retreating, and prices are down to more normal levels.

China is among the world’s top natural gas importers, along with Japan and South Korea, and therefore a prime target for gas exporters. PetroChina, for example, doubled the amount of Russian gas it receives via the Power of Siberia pipeline to 28.8 million cu m daily over the first two months of the year. Sinopec, for its part, ordered 30 cargos of liquefied natural gas for the period to make sure there was an adequate supply of the fuel.

China is dependent on imports for a solid portion of its gas consumption, so the country is making an effort to also boost domestic production to reduce this dependence. Last year, despite the pandemic, it made progress in that respect, with natural gas production jumping 15 percent on the year, according to Fitch Ratings. The agency noted domestic production was likely to continue growing thanks to robust demand and efforts to decarbonize the Chinese economy.

Yet self-sufficiency in gas is still a dream—and it may remain a dream. China has massive shale gas reserves but exploiting them is challenging because of the complex geology of the deposits and difficulties in attracting foreign investors who could help fund such an endeavor.

This means China will remain a huge natural gas importer for the observable future, driving intense competition in the energy industry.


Heliostar strikes gold below Sitka Mine
Shane Lasley, North of 60 Mining News, March 4, 2021

Heliostar Metals Ltd. March 1 announced that its 2020 drilling tapped gold mineralization between the historic Apollo-Sitka Mine on its Unga project in Southwest Alaska.

Alaska’s first hardrock gold mines, Apollo and Sitka produced roughly 150,000 oz of gold from high-grade epithermal veins from 1886 until around 1922, when the high-grade gold ore transitioned to more base metals-dominant mineralization. Despite historic exploration shafts demonstrating the vein continued beneath the mined areas and evidence of strong mineralization at depth, there is no record of drilling underneath the mines until Heliostar’s 2020 program.

“This initial drilling intersected multiple sub-parallel veins in the Apollo area, demonstrated strong gold grades and accurately located the veins at depth,” said Heliostar Metals CEO Charles Funk.


Alaska Gov. Dunleavy’s administration says it’s ensuring “ethical transition” of chief of staff to ConocoPhillips job
Nathaniel Herz, Alaska’s Energy Desk, March 7, 2021

The oil company that hired Alaska GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s chief of staff for an executive job is pledging to uphold state ethics laws that bar him from working on issues that were under consideration in the governor’s office — and Dunleavy’s administration also says it’s working to ensure an “ethical transition.”

Ben Stevens’ last day in the governor’s office was Friday, Feb. 26, and he started work as vice president of external affairs and transportation at ConocoPhillips the following Monday.

The company is Alaska’s largest oil producer and holds an array of state oil leases.

The Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act bars public officials from working on matters under consideration by their agency for two years after leaving their state job. It also bars high-ranking officials from lobbying for a year after leaving the government.


Biden’s All-of-Government Climate Pledge Begins to Take Shape
Courtney Rozen & Aaron Kessler, Bloomberg Law, March 1, 2021

  • Biden tasks agencies with more than 60 to-dos in first weeks
  • Administration set social cost of carbon at $51 a ton for 2021

The Biden Administration’s decision to throw out the Trump White House’s method for calculating the social cost of carbon was one of the first tangible actions on the president’s lengthy climate change to-do list as he works to convince the world that the White House is once again serious about a global response to warming temperatures.

The approach, announced Friday, pegs the social cost of carbon at $51 a ton for 2021 after adjusting for inflation at a 3% discount rate. The Biden plan, which replaces a Trump-era method that was as low as $1, will be used on an interim basis. A higher dollar figure makes it harder for agencies to issue new regulations that are more permissive to industry because it more starkly shows the benefits of tough rules outweigh the costs.

Several earlier executive orders signed by the president so far also address climate change, many incorporating dozens of separate directives. One of those orders, signed on Jan. 27, directs agencies across the government to complete at least 60 separate actions, according to an examination by Bloomberg Law. It sets April and May deadlines for a few of the tasks.