Yergin: Oil Industry in Virus Alley. BP’s empty well. Murkowski’s final days as chair.

In News by wp_sysadmin

**This is the last AK Headlamp for 2020; See you in 2021!

News of the Day:  Anchorage House election decided by 11 votes heads to Alaska Supreme Court


The Oil Industry Is Stuck in Virus Alley
Daniel Yergin, The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2020

When will oil sustainably break out of the “Virus Alley”—that $40 to $50 band that has held oil prices in check for months? That’s Question No. 1 going into 2021 for an oil industry that has dramatically retrenched and investors who have abandoned the sector because of a lack of returns. It will also determine when U.S. shale recovers from its pandemic malaise and resumes growth.

Only a year ago prospects looked pretty good. Optimism about the world economy at the beginning of 2020 had a barrel of Brent crude at $70. Then came a pandemic that was in almost no company’s—or country’s—emergency plans. The general view of something called SARS-CoV-2 was initially conditioned by the experience of SARS-1 in the early 2000s, which had about 8,000 cases world-wide and fewer than 800 deaths.

But by March the highly transmissible coronavirus was precipitating a world-wide shutdown, the worst global recession in 74 years, and the constriction of movement by both car and plane. That led to a plummeting of global oil demand and a price collapse that saw prices go “negative,” or below zero, as producers paid people to take their oil away because storage tanks were filled to overflowing.

The rebound from negative prices and the stabilization of the market was made possible by unprecedented production cuts by the group that calls itself OPEC-plus—the 13 Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Saudi Arabia, and a group of 10 other producing nations led by Russia. That U.S.-brokered agreement got oil prices up into the $40 to $50 range of Virus Alley, blocked at one end by the virus and at the other by the uncertain prospect for vaccines. Now that vaccines are here, prices have moved to the $50 end of the alley. But will they rise into that higher band of $50 to $65 that will enable companies to start spending and attract investors?


BP well comes up empty at promising Ironbark gas prospect off Australia
Oil & Gas 360, December 29, 2020

The result marked a big disappointment for BP’s partners in the prospect, which had been seen as a potential gas supplier to the North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, where BP is a co-owner, within five to 10 years.

“BP Australia can confirm that no significant hydrocarbons have been found at the Ironbark exploration well in Western Australia,” the company said in an emailed statement.

It said the well, which was drilled to a total depth of 5,618 metres, will be plugged and abandoned, but had no further comment.

“Bugger. A very disappointing result for us all,” New Zealand Oil and Gas Chief Executive Andrew Jefferies said in a statement.

“Ironbark was a world scale prospect in a highly prospective address, and it needed drilling. We got an answer, but it was not the one we wanted,” he said.


Class Action Lawsuit:  Securities Fraud – Northern Dynasty/Pebble Mine
Yahoo Finance, December 29, 2020

The lawsuit alleges Northern Dynasty and senior executives misled investors about the viability of the company’s proposed Pebble Project, a large mining project in Alaska.


Year-End Omnibus Also Includes Western Water Package

 Washington, DC—U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) released the following statement after securing a number of western water provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which President Trump signed into law on Sunday evening. Murkowski worked with Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and the leadership of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the House Committee on Natural Resources to address a number of western water priorities, including provisions that:

Begin to tackle the massive aging infrastructure issues facing water users.

Ensure Bureau of Reclamation facilities can be utilized to improve groundwater storage and management.

Authorize crucial water projects; and Extend several programs important to modernizing water systems and saving water.  

 “It is critical that we invest in our water infrastructure and enact federal policies that provide water managers with the tools they need to deliver reliable water supply. The western water title in the omnibus accomplishes both of these goals,” Murkowski said. “This package will improve water security and drought resilience for farms and communities in many western states. After considerable process in this Congress, I’m glad these provisions are now signed into law.”    


2020: The Year of Green Hydrogen in 10 Stories
John Parnell, Green Tech Media, December 29, 2020

Among other things, which shall remain nameless, 2020 has been notable for the rush of activity in the green hydrogen space.

Using renewable-powered electrolyzers to create low-carbon hydrogen can squeeze emissions out of sectors where direct electrification isn’t going to cut it. Green hydrogen could replace methane to generate heat or power. It could replace high-carbon, or gray, hydrogen in a number of industrial and chemical processes. It could even be used as a fuel in heavy transport.  

As 2020 unfurled and then unraveled, climate change mitigation ambition ramped up. “Green recovery” emerged as a favored approach to stoking flagging economies — tackling the unparalleled challenge of climate change to invest our way out of an unrivaled economic test.