Strange Bedfellows in WOTUS Lawsuit. Donlin gets high grades.

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Today’s Key Takeaways:   Alaska is considering carbon capture –use an interactive map to see where in the world carbon capture projects already exist.   China demand still driving oil prices. Natural gas prices jump 10%  Donlin gold wraps up strong 2022 drilling season.  Coalition of business groups sues Biden’s EPA over new WOTUS rule. 


Global CCS Map

This interactive map from  Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage  provides a virtual tour of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects around the world. Here you will find information on large-scale projects – operating and planned – which capture, transport and store at least 500,000 tonnes of CO₂ per year. Smaller scale but significant pilot projects, from capture and storage to full-chain CCS, also feature.


Oil prices hit 7-week high on stronger China outlook
Stephanie Kelly, Reuters, January 23, 2023

Oil prices rose by around 1% on Monday to a seven-week high, extending last week’s gains on the back of a stronger outlook thanks to an expected economic recovery in top oil importer China this year.

Brent crude was up $1.28, or 1.5%, at $88.91 a barrel at 11:06 a.m. EST (1606 GMT). The session high was $88.99 a barrel, highest since Dec. 1.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 76 cents, or 0.9%, to $82.40. The session high was $82.64 a barrel, highest since Dec. 5.


Natural Gas Prices Jump 10% In Early Trading
Irina Slav, OilPrice.Com, January 23, 2023

  • Natural gas prices jumped by 10 percent in early trading.
  • The jump comes after a substantial drop over the past month.
  • Inflation continues to be a problem for the gas industry, especially in the production growth aspect.

Natural gas prices have started the week with a gain of over 10 percent, but the recent trends in the price have concerned some in the U.S. gas industry.

Last week, prices shed 7.17 percent, extending a streak of weekly losses that began in the middle of last December. Some have suggested prices could slump to less than $2 per million British thermal units.

Over the past four weeks, natural gas prices lost some 50 percent—a substantial and sharp plunge that prompted Chesapeake’s chief executive to suggest supply growth might have to be moderated

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Nick Dell’Osso said that “Growth in gas supply is not needed in the short term. We do think the industry should acknowledge that and may reduce growth in the near term.”

In this, Dell’Osso echoed an earlier statement by the chief executive of EQT, who said earlier this month that forecasts of a production increase this year in the U.S., to the tune of 3 billion cu ft daily, may fail to pan out.

“That’s a little ambitious with the current pullback and prices,” Toby Rice told Bloomberg in an interview. “You are going to see an operator response and slowdown in the activity levels.”

Last year, demand for LNG from Europe stimulated gas production growth, but now that Europe’s storage caverns are full and winter is mild, demand is slacking off, as is domestic demand, again thanks to the mild weather.

Inflation, meanwhile, continues to be a problem for the gas industry, especially in the production growth aspect.

“Inflation has not reacted,” Rice told Bloomberg. “So, we’ve got a couple big forces that are working against producers.” In addition, the EQT executive said, there is a shortage of pipelines that further discourages substantial production growth.

“We still see pockets in the US where natural gas prices are higher than what they’re paying in Europe. It’s crazy,” Rice said.


Donlin Gold wraps 2022 with high grades
Shane Lasley, North of 60 Mining News, January 20, 2023

Barrick, Novagold now considering updated feasibility study for world-class gold project.

To round out a large and highly-successful 2022 program at Donlin Gold, project partners Novagold Resources Inc. and Barrick Gold Corp. reported additional high-grade gold intercepts in the final batch of assays from last year’s drilling at the world-class gold mine project in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region of Southwest Alaska.

Being advanced toward a production decision by Donlin Gold LLC – a joint venture owned equally by Novagold and Barrick – this enormous mine project hosts 504.81 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 2.09 grams per metric ton (33.9 million oz) gold.

A feasibility study completed in 2011 detailed plans for a mine at Donlin that would produce more than 1 million oz of gold annually over an initial 25 years of mining.

Toward the goal of updating this more than decade-old feasibility study, the Donlin Gold partners invested roughly $64 million into a 2022 program that included 42,334 meters of drilling, the largest program carried out at this extraordinary project in more than 15 years.

Many of the 141 holes drilled last year at Donlin cut zones of gold mineralization with grades far above the resource average. The final batch of assays from the 42,331-meter drill program was no exception.



Business groups challenge new rule protecting ‘temporary streams’
Saul Elbein, The Hill, January 19, 2023

A coalition of agricultural and other business groups are suing the Biden administration over a new environmental rule that aims to protect temporary streams from pollution.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) led the lawsuit, which also included groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council.

The suit challenges the legality of the rule change, which expands the Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction to regulate dangers to small and intermittent streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water.

These “ephemeral streams” only carry water during certain times of the year or after heavy rain. But they make up a large percentage of the total miles of streams in the United States and are essential for water quality — particularly in Western states like Arizona, where they make up the bulk of the state’s waterways.

Agricultural groups have long argued that these streams should not be subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. The Act protects water quality by regulating dredging, filling and the release of pollutants into waterways designated as “waters of the U.S.”

That category will now include temporary streams in some cases.

The new rule marks a rough middle ground between the positions of past administrations. The Obama administration protected these streams, but the Trump administration repealed those protections. The Biden administration rule splits the difference by sometimes giving these streams some protections.

One NCBA spokesperson characterized the new approach as lacking in “common sense.”