Today’s Key Takeaways: Transportation Secretary harassed by climate change protesters. OPEC vs. IEA on oil demand growth. Fear in global gas market over supply threats. Copper mining deals are on the rise. Replacing Rep Patkotak in AK house brings confusion.
NEWS OF THE DAY:
Climate protesters crash Buttigieg interview, chanting ‘stop Petro Pete’ | The Hill
Laura Irwin, October 11, 2023
Many protestors concerned about climate change stormed the stage where U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was being interviewed Thursday in Baltimore.
Buttigieg was in town at a daylong conference to discuss new transportation updates for the state. The conference, iMPACT MARYLAND, was hosted by The Baltimore Banner and intended to focus on the future of the state.
In a series of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, Buttigieg said the updates include an expansion of the Baltimore airport, converting the University of Maryland’s bus fleet to electric vehicles, replacing diesel trains with battery-powered ones, and updating a transportation station to be accessible for wheelchair users and pedestrians.
Members of the Climate Defiance group came on stage, carrying signs and shouting in opposition to a Texas petrochemical project.
“Stop Petro Pete,” they said, among other chants.
“Your [Department of Transportation] just approved the Seaport Oil Terminal, a project that will have 80 coal plants worth of greenhouse gas emissions and will worsen air qualities in areas that already live in a cancer cluster,” one protestor said to Buttigieg on stage.
The Seaport Oil Terminal project was approved by the Biden administration last year and would be located off the shore of Freeport, Texas. Environmental activism groups have opposed the decision.
IEA LOWERS OIL DEMAND GROWTH FORECAST, WIDENING GAP WITH OPEC: The International Energy Agency said today it predicts global oil demand will grow by just 880,000 bpd in 2024, down from its earlier projection of 1 million bpd—a change it said was driven by higher prices and progress on energy efficiency and EV adoption.
IEA said it is already seeing signs of oil demand destruction, entering a period of what the Paris-based agency said is “likely to be a permanent decline.”
“There has been some evidence of large-scale demand destruction, especially in lower-income countries like Nigeria, Pakistan and Egypt, and signs of accelerating declines within some OECD markets including the United States,” the IEA said in its monthly oil report. (This excludes major oil consumers such as China, India, and Brazil, which they said will continue to see solid demand growth in the year ahead.)
One (significant) caveat: The IEA noted a “sharp escalation in geopolitical risk” to oil supplies due to the Israel-Hamas war. It said that while supplies in the Middle East have not yet been affected, markets will “remain on tenterhooks” as the crisis continues. “The Middle East conflict is fraught with uncertainty and events are fast developing,” the IEA said in its report.
Still, its forecast contrasts significantly with that of OPEC, which said today it is sticking to its oil demand forecast for 2024. That report estimates global demand to rise by 2.25 million bpd based on global economic growth and higher demand from China.
The cartel of oil-producing nations has consistently issued more bullish oil demand predictions than other groups, including IEA. “In 2024, solid global economic growth, amid continued improvements in China, is expected to further boost oil consumption,” OPEC said.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy
Fear Grips Global Gas Market Facing Winter Supply Threats – BNN Bloomberg
Stephen Stapczynski, Anna Shiryaevskaya, Ruth Liao, Bloomberg News, October 12, 2023
Mounting threats to gas supply are sending most global fuel prices higher as fear takes hold of the market just ahead of the first signs of winter.
Natural gas in Asia and Europe jumped this week, with the latter hitting the highest level in seven months, driven by the Israel-Hamas war, potential strikes at key export plants and infrastructure vulnerabilities, including a leak in a Baltic Sea pipeline where sabotage is suspected.
The US stands apart, and price swings there have been much more muted thanks to ample domestic production.
The multiple risks highlight the fragility of other markets, in particular Europe, which is starting its second winter without much of the pipeline gas flows from Russia that it once took for granted. The continent’s benchmark futures continued their rally Thursday, adding as much as 15%.
The good news is the gas market is in a much better place now than this time last year. Inventories are high, industrial demand is down, and several new import facilities have been added. In addition, some forecasts suggest Europe will have a relatively warm winter, which should reduce gas needs.
But the energy crisis is still far from over, and a cold snap is set to hit Europe in the coming days. Any hint of disruptions to global gas flows could send shockwaves through the market, particularly as households crank up the heat.
“Somehow the risk of something going wrong vastly outweighs the reality that everything has gone right,” said Ira Joseph, a global fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “The fear of being short of supply and the potential for another price spike is overpowering, even if stocks are high and demand is weak.”
Exclusive: Miners seek partners for copper assets as M&A heats up
Clara Denina, Divya Rajagopal, Julian Luk, Reuters, October 11, 2023
A flurry of copper mining deals are being lined up for the next six to 12 months, industry sources said, as producers seek to spread the soaring cost of new projects for the metal key to the energy transition.
The capital needed to develop new mines has shot up some 50% to between $3 billion-$4 billion on average in recent years, fueled by declining ore grades, stricter environmental requirements, and rising labor costs.
Vacated House seat stirs up questions with Alaska lawmakers
Steve Kirch, Alaska’s News Source, October 11, 2023
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is seeking applicants for the vacated House District 40 seat in the state Legislature.
The vacancy was created when Josiah Patkotak resigned on Tuesday after winning the North Slope Borough mayor’s race. He was sworn in on Tuesday.
Since Patkotak was not affiliated with any political party as a state representative, there is some confusion and uncertainty over filling the new mayor’s seat.
Under a state law changed by ballot measure 2 in 2020, since Patkotak was not a member of a political party, the governor may appoint any qualified person to the vacated seat without confirmation from the Legislature.
However, some legislators on Wednesday said there is some ambiguity in the statute. Patkotak was unaffiliated but a member of the mostly Republican House Majority Caucus.
“So we’re walking our way through those processes, and if you have, you know, two lawyers, you have three opinions. So, we’re going to look at those and try and figure out what the best way forward is. And we have a little bit of time,” Republican House Majority Leader Dan Saddler said.
House minority leader Republican House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage — who is an Independent — said he thinks it all depends on how party affiliation is defined.
“Whether or not he’s a member of that party. My understanding, however, is that it looks as though the governor can appoint someone of his choice without confirmation. But we’re still waiting for more concrete guidance,” Schrage said.