EIA launches redesigned International Energy Portal
Today, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) launched a redesigned International Energy Portal to improve access to international energy data and trends in global energy markets.
"With most of the future growth in energy consumption expected to occur outside of the United States and with increasingly interconnected world energy markets, a clear perspective on the international energy landscape is critically important, and EIA's redesigned International Energy Portal makes it easier to gain insight into global energy developments," said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski.
From our Energy Information Agency mail TODAY:
Earlier we commented that the 'Usefull Idiots' motivated by idealism are used by manipulators desiring power would use any means to attain their end. Here is TODAY'S Seattle Times report of how the illegal protesters are violating laws and trespassing. We await word of who funds and organizes the Seattle community of organizers, most of whom slink under the "broad tent" of democrats though in similar organized protests like "occupy" they have more specifically identified themselves as anarchists, liberals, socialists, communists, community activists, etc.
Is a major manipulator and funder of the Ferguson riots, George Soros, also behind Seattle? We'll undoubtedly find out as the dust settles.
LNG Links Courtesy of Larry Persily:
First Nation rejection forces Petronas to find Plan B for LNG terminal
(Globe and Mail; Canada; May 13) - Pacific NorthWest LNG is scrambling to come up with a Plan B after the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation soundly rejected the Malaysian-led project’s $1 billion offer aimed at securing support for a liquefied natural gas terminal proposed near Prince Rupert, B.C. The company said project leader Petronas and its five Asian partners are willing to make changes. A key option is to relocate a planned suspension bridge and trestle the First Nation said was too close to the environmentally sensitive salmon habitat in Flora Bank, part of the Lax Kw’alaams’ traditional territory.
“It’s about doing the right thing,” Pacific NorthWest LNG president Michael Culbert said May 13. The overwhelming opposition by Lax Kw’alaams members in three rounds of voting illustrates the many hurdles — from aboriginal criticisms to environmental concerns — that even the most prominent project among 19 LNG proposals in British Columbia must clear before becoming reality. The lure of the money, which would have been spread over 40 years, was not enough to overcome the Native group’s concerns.
One possible change for Pacific NorthWest is to move the planned suspension bridge and trestle farther away from Flora Bank. The bridge would support pipelines moving LNG from the onshore plant to a deep-water berthing site for carriers to load up. While the Petronas-led group’s defeat does not sound the death knell for B.C.’s fledgling LNG industry, it is a warning that aboriginal people will vigorously defend their traditional territory against projects that they believe would place fish stocks at risk.
First Nation chief says environmental protection must be guaranteed
(Globe and Mail; Canada; May 17) – An aboriginal leader in British Columbia said First Nations will continue to oppose oil and gas developments even if it means rejecting billion-dollar pay-outs — until environmental protections are guaranteed. Setting a high — if not impossible — bar for corporations such as Pacific NorthWest LNG, which is trying to move ahead with a liquefied natural gas terminal, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said a community vote to reject the development was a clear sign that both business and government must reject their “gold rush mentality” for a more sustainable approach.
“Our elders remind us that money is like so much dust that is quickly blown away in the wind,” said Chief Phillip, “but the land is forever.” Last week, the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation members overwhelmingly rejected an offer of more than $1 billion in cash, plus more than $100 million in Crown land, in exchange for supporting the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal near Prince Rupert. The First Nation contends the project would endanger the habitat of juvenile salmon in Flora Bank, which falls in their traditional territory.
“The traditional way of life of the Lax Kw’alaams people and, most importantly, the delicate marine ecosystem that upholds and has upheld their culture for thousands of years, is not for sale,” the chief said. First Nations are also speaking, he said, for “British Columbians who are not willing to accept any unnecessary risks for the interests of transnational corporations and their profits.”
Delays will keep Australia LNG off the market, says Wood Mackenzie
(Wood Mackenzie; May 14) - The first cargo from the world's inaugural coal-seam gas-to-LNG train was delivered at Queensland Curtis LNG in January 2015 and much more capacity is under construction around Australia, but delays in several liquefied natural gas export projects in the country will mean that 11 million metric tons less LNG than expected (about 520 billion cubic feet of gas) will be produced between 2015 and 2019, according to global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.
The coal-seam gas projects in particular will soon be tested, Wood Mackenzie said, and of particular concern is how each operator will ramp up a significant volume of gas in a very short time. “The most productive wells will supply the first train of each project, but risk remains around the deliverability and consistency of the following supply tiers that will feed the second trains.”
BG has managed the first train at its Queensland project well so far but a key uncertainty is the speed and consistency of the ramp-up of the gas supply to the second liquefaction train, Wood Mackenzie said. “About 1,000 wells will need to be drilled each year to maintain momentum, but the ability of operators to manage this activity as well as operate an LNG plant has not yet been tried.”
Australia’s Woodside signs up to buy LNG from Corpus Christi plant
(The Australian Business Review; May 14) - Woodside Petroleum will proceed with a 20-year deal to purchase 850,000 metric tons a year of liquefied natural gas (about 40 billion cubic feet of gas) from Corpus Christi Liquefaction, a subsidiary of Cheniere Energy. The deal was first announced last year, but was dependent on a series of conditions including construction of two production units at the Corpus Christi project in Texas. Cheniere has given the go-ahead to start construction of the first unit.
The plant is planned to include up to three LNG trains and produce 13.5 million tons of LNG annually. Despite a sharp fall in oil prices since the deal was first flagged in mid-2014, Woodside said there are no changes to the terms outlined at that time. Woodside will pay Cheniere 115 percent of the monthly Henry Hub price for gas acquired to fulfill its contract (the 15 percent add-on is to cover gas used in the liquefaction process), plus $3.50 per million Btu for liquefaction, storage and loading. (That equates to $4.35 Australian at May 15 exchange rates). Woodside will handle shipping.
The terms are in line with contracts signed by other Corpus Christi customers. The 20-year agreement includes an extension option of up to an additional 10 years and a mechanism that gives Woodside the option to forgo deliveries with sufficient notice, though it would be required to pay Cheniere the $3.50 per million Btu charge even if it doesn’t use its reserved plant capacity. Cheniere expects Corpus Christi to start up its first train in 2018. Cargoes to Woodside from the second train are expected in 2019.
Texas LNG developer denies he was advised against sales to Chinese
(Reuters; May 15) - The head of Freeport LNG said May 15 that the U.S. Department of Energy had not advised against inviting Chinese investment in the company's export plant under development in Texas, a contradiction of claims that he made a day earlier. Michael Smith, CEO of privately owned Freeport LNG, which plans to open its Texas plant in 2018, said he misspoke May 14 in an interview with Reuters when he said the department had warned against Chinese investment for political reasons.
The department "in no way" advised Freeport LNG on what customers, or sources of foreign investment, it should choose, Smith said. "I regret having inaccurately described the DOE as having advised us as such," he said. Smith said May 14 the advice had lead him to turn down Chinese buyers of LNG. "We were advised by the DOE to be careful who our customers were, because this is very political," he said then, calling the prospect of Chinese interest in a major U.S. export project "a political hot potato.”
Smith was not available for further comment May 15. A department spokeswoman said May 15 it did not advise Freeport against sending LNG to Chinese customers or inviting Chinese investment. Customers from across the world have signed up to buy future shipments of U.S. LNG. However, despite growing gas demand in China, no Chinese companies have signed up for U.S. exports directly. Some cargoes of U.S. LNG could end up on China’s shores, but only through secondary deals.
Spot-market LNG price in Japan averaged $7.60 in April
(Reuters; May 14) – Average liquefied natural gas spot prices for buyers in Japan fell to a two-month low in April, trade ministry data showed May 14, in another sign of slack global demand. Spot LNG contracted in April for delivery to Japan averaged $7.60 per million Btu, down from $8 a month earlier, less than half the level of a year ago, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.
Tokyo started surveying spot LNG prices in March 2014 to add transparency to the market amid concerns over rising fuel costs in the wake of the shutdown of nuclear plants in 2011. The average spot price is calculated on about 10 percent of the nation's LNG purchases. The trade ministry survey looks at samples of fixed prices for LNG sold to power companies and utilities among others, and excludes spot deals linked to benchmark prices such as the U.S. natural gas Henry Hub index.
Texas LNG hopeful contracts for FEED work
(Houston Chronicle; May 16) - Even though the first federal permitting request was just submitted in late March, NextDecade is already moving forward with early contracts to build its $8 billion Rio Grande LNG export project in Brownsville, Texas, near the Mexico border. NextDecade has contracted with CB&I (formerly Chicago Bridge & Iron) for the front-end engineering and design and to determine the project’s engineering, procurement and construction terms. The terms of the deal are not being released.
NextDecade’s Rio Grande liquefied natural gas project includes building as many as six liquefaction trains and two marine jetties. NextDecade also would build a 130-mile pipeline from Brownsville to a pipeline hub near Corpus Christi. Shaun Davison, NextDecade project director for North America, said the front-end engineering and design is conducted in part to provide the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with “extremely detailed” project plans.
The FEED work goes in conjunction with NextDecade entering the pre-filing process with FERC in March, he said. The goal is to submit the draft plan to FERC in October and then submit the final report and plans in January 2016, he said. The venture is being primarily sponsored thus far by Jamie Dinan-founded York Capital Management. Other financing is in the works, but NextDecade executives are remaining mum for now.
U.S. will likely need to review gas exported through Canada, Mexico
(Platts; May 13) – U.S. gas exports to North American Free-Trade Act countries Canada and Mexico intended for commercial re-export as liquefied natural gas to countries that lack a free-trade agreement with the United States will likely require approval from the U.S. Department of Energy, a department official said. Deputy Assistant Secretary Paula Gant of the Office of Oil and Natural Gas spoke at an LNG conference May 12 in Austin, Texas.
Responding to questions from a panel moderator, Gant declined to elaborate, citing the agency's policy on public comments regarding commercial applications for U.S. gas exports that are under review. Gant's comments bear directly on several LNG export projects currently under consideration for Eastern Canada and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The export terminals would likely rely on U.S. natural gas delivered by pipeline across the border to feed the LNG plants.
Japanese shipyard will build LNG carriers to serve Louisiana project
(TradeArabia News Service; May 14) - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has won an order for two next-generation liquefied natural gas carriers to be built in a Japanese shipyard for delivery to Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line). The vessels are scheduled for completion and delivery in 2018. They will be put into service for transporting LNG from Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG project under construction in Hackberry, La. Mitsubishi Corp. is a partner in the Cameron project, as is NYK.
The carriers on order feature a new design of a dual-fuel (diesel or natural gas) engine that will power a steam turbine to drive an electric propulsion motor, also capturing and utilizing waste heat in the power system. The vessels will measure almost 965 feet long, 160 wide, with a draft of 36 feet. Each will be capable of carrying almost 3.5 billion cubic feet of gas as LNG. The new ships will be capable of passing through the expanded Panama Canal that is expected to open for traffic early in 2016.
Anadarko selects engineering contractors for Mozambique LNG
(Bloomberg; May 17) - Anadarko Petroleum has selected a group of engineering contractors including Chicago Bridge & Iron for a potential $15 billion liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique. CBI’s joint venture with Japan’s Chiyoda and Italy’s Saipem will work on the onshore project that includes two liquefaction trains with 6 million metric tons of annual capacity each, Anadarko said May 17. The decision is a significant step toward reaching a final investment decision, Anadarko CEO Al Walker said.
Anadarko said it will make a final investment decision by the end of 2015. Construction plans also include LNG storage tanks, condensate storage, a multi-berth marine jetty and associated utilities and infrastructure. The company has secured non-binding long-term off-take agreements for more than 8 million tons a year of LNG from potential customers and is making progress in turning these into binding sales-and-purchase deals, Walker said. It’s also getting letters of intent from lenders for project financing.
Anadarko will work on a development plan to submit to the government in the coming months, Walker said. As much as 75 trillion cubic feet of gas may lie in the Area 1 prospect off Mozambique’s shores, according to Anadarko and its partners developing the discovery. Anadarko and Eni are operators in Areas 1 and 4 of Mozambique’s Rovuma Basin, home of the world’s largest gas find of the past decade.
India offers power generators subsidy to use more LNG
(The Financial Express; India; May 13) - The lowest subsidy requested by India’s power generators to use more imported liquefied natural gas in their power plants was about 3 cents per kilowatt hour. A government auction ended May 13 to determine the subsidy required to entice generators to use more LNG and help ease electricity shortages. Eight power generators bid in the tender, representing almost 4,900 megawatts of generation capacity that is running far below capacity because of domestic gas scarcity.
According to a senior Power Ministry official, this round of bidding was for more than 300 million cubic feet of gas per day that would be needed to fuel the stranded gas-fired plants during June-September this year. Overall, 31 power stations in India with a combined capacity of 14,305 megawatts are languishing because of a lack of gas.
Power companies seeking the least financial support to reach an electricity tariff of about 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour won the auction. The government also is asking LNG importers and transporters to reduce their marketing and operational costs.
India may look to renegotiate sales price of Qatari LNG contract
(Interfax Global Energy; May 15) - India’s largest liquefied natural gas importer could seek to renegotiate the terms of its long-term supply deal with Qatar this year. Petronet LNG’s 25-year, 7.5-million-tons-per-year contract with Qatar’s RasGas has provided the bulk of volumes delivered to India since 2004, and has typically been competitive with alternative fuels and cheaper than spot LNG — but not lately.
The free-on-board price for RasGas contract volumes to India was fixed at $2.50 per million Btu from 2004 to 2008, before oil indexation was gradually introduced between 2009 and 2013. Oil indexation of 12.67 percent (meaning a Japan Crude Cocktail price of $100 a barrel would produce an LNG price of $12.67 per million Btu) took effect from the beginning of 2014, with prices peaking at $13.60 toward the end of the year. Since then, the RasGas contract has been slow to reflect the sharp drop in global oil prices.
The contract includes a price ceiling and floor based on a 60-month average of oil prices, effectively preventing any significant downward adjustments in the short term to reflect the recent decline in crude oil prices and reducing the competitiveness of Qatari LNG under the contract. Spot LNG prices as low as $7 have reduced India’s appetite for its contract volumes, with a significant decline in demand for Qatari LNG and deferral of at least 10 contracted cargoes from RasGas during the first quarter of this year.
Takeover of BG Group puts Shell in middle of East Africa LNG
(Bloomberg; May 12) - Shell’s $70 billion takeover of BG Group will put Europe’s largest energy company in the middle of East Africa’s race to export natural gas and is set to boost the chances of Tanzania becoming a major LNG supplier. Shell’s acquisition would include BG’s stakes in three blocks off the coast that contain one-third of Tanzania’s estimated resource, and may give the East African nation an edge in the race to export liquefied natural gas from the region over neighboring Mozambique.
Shell has “strong expertise in working with governments and has also displayed strong appetite for risk, deploying new technologies,” said Dolapo Oni, head of energy research for Ecobank Group. “These attributes could benefit the Tanzania LNG project and give Mozambique much-needed competition for the limited investment dollars available globally for these sort of projects.” Statoil and partner ExxonMobil also have blocks in Tanzania, while Eni and Anadarko plan developments in Mozambique.
Producers holding leases in the two countries are working out whether to invest amid indications of the start of a worldwide LNG glut. New export projects in Australia and Papua New Guinea are starting to push out proposed projects as demand weakens, Genscape, which provides energy- and commodity-market data, said last month. In addition, Tanzania and Mozambique have yet to finish regulations for gas development and production, which are needed before any final investment decisions are taken.
Pennsylvania company plans second LNG plant for local market
(Philadelphia Inquirer; May 15) - UGI Energy Services is doubling its capacity to produce liquefied natural gas in Pennsylvania, aiming to capture a bigger share of an alternative-fuel market. UGIES, a subsidiary of UGI Corp. of Valley Forge, Pa., announced May 15 it plans to build a $60 million plant in northeastern Pennsylvania to produce up to 120,000 gallons of LNG a day from 10 million cubic feet of Marcellus gas.
It will be the company’s second LNG production plant. UGIES also plans to build storage tanks with a total capacity of about 280,000 gallons, said Matthew Dutzman, vice president of business development. Traditionally, utilities have used LNG as a means to store gas for high-demand winter days, known as "peak-shaving." LNG is now experiencing growth in demand as a cleaner-burning, less costly alternative to diesel.
UGI, which operates three Pennsylvania gas utilities, has operated an LNG plant in Temple, Pa., since 1972. That plant was recently expanded to produce up to 120,000 gallons a day.
Vancouver regional council will oppose oil pipeline expansion
(Mission City Record; Mission, BC; May 15) - The Metro Vancouver regional district will formally oppose Kinder Morgan's proposed twinning (capacity expansion) of its Trans Mountain oil pipeline after a vote of the board May 15. The decision came after the release of a new projection of the environmental impact of an oil spill and a report from the City of Burnaby warning it could not contain a major fire at the tank farm near the pipeline terminal.
"If there is a serious or catastrophic incident at the tank farm we are incapable of being able to control that," Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan told the board. "The more we learn about it the riskier it gets," Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said of Kinder Morgan’s proposal to expand its pipeline for moving Alberta oil sands production to the West Coast for shipment overseas. Other directors cited the Coast Guard's deficient response to the relatively small spill of fuel oil in April from a freighter in Vancouver harbor.
Not all directors supported the motion. Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew and Langley Township Council Charlie Fox both opposed it, warning that if Kinder Morgan's pipeline push is stymied, large volumes of oil may end up rolling through B.C. on trains, at much greater risk to the environment and communities. "The oil is going to come to the coast one way or another," Drew said. "If it doesn't come by pipeline, it's going to come by rail car. And nothing scares me more than unit rail cars coming down the Fraser Canyon."
New York protests continue against offshore LNG import terminal
(Newsday; May 16) - A long line of opponents to a proposed offshore liquefied natural gas import project off Long Beach, New York, joined hands at the water's edge May 16 to symbolize their determination to keep the ocean unspoiled. "It's just the idea of a natural gas port in this beautiful, pristine place," said Johanna Mathieson of Long Beach. LNG carriers would connect to an offshore buoy and pipeline system to deliver their cargos.
Federal officials are reviewing plans for the Port Ambrose terminal sought by Liberty Natural Gas. The governors of New York and New Jersey both hold veto power. Company officials have said the terminal would curb seasonal spikes in fuel prices in the region. "Port Ambrose is needed, is safe and will reduce energy costs for New York consumers," company chief executive Roger Whelan said in a statement.
Opponents counter that renewable energy such as an offshore wind farm proposed in the same area is far less polluting and will not speed global warming. Finn Hinke, 43, of Long Beach cited the need to protect "our coastlines and our environment and all the waters." The protesters’ column stretched about 200 yards. Several protestors raised concerns about safety. "How could you ever think of putting a port out there with the storms we have?" asked Judy Weitz, 65, of Long Beach.
Fox Business News. Gov. Bill Walker vetoed legislation Friday that sought to temporarily restrict participation of a state-sponsored corporation in an alternate gas pipeline project that he proposed.
KTUU Opinion by Senator John Coghill (NGP Photo).
Respectfully, Gov. Bill Walker, with the best of intentions, has proposed “up-sizing” the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline project, ASAP, as leverage for prospective negotiations with producers in the Alaska liquefied natural gas project, AKLNG.
On its face that “sounds good.” Unfortunately, up-sizing ASAP may result in significant negative consequences.
As we listened to testimony this session, a few themes developed: 1. the State, if Governor Walker continues on his path, may itself become a “risk factor” for alignment with AKLNG, and 2. if the State pursues two projects at once, it may likely undermine both projects. More....
Sen. Murkowski: Iran Oil Could Hurt U.S. Production if Prohibition on Exporting Domestic Crude Oil isn’t Lifted
Restrictions on U.S. Oil Trade Amount to “Domestic Sanctions”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today drew attention to the potential impact that ending sanctions against Iran could have on U.S. production if the outdated prohibition on exporting domestic crude oil is not also lifted.
“If sanctions on Iran are lifted, Tehran will be able to make money by selling their oil to our friends and may use that money to destabilize our allies,” Murkowski said. “If we lift the current sanctions on Iran while keeping in place our own domestic sanctions on crude oil exports, America’s ability to increase its domestic energy security and that of our allies will suffer.”
Adam Sieminski, administrator of the Energy Information Administration (EIA), testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday that sanction relief could result in as much as 1 million barrels a day of Iranian oil flooding the global market. Meanwhile, most U.S. oil production is blocked from competing on the world market by regulations leftover from the 1970s.
Murkowski, chairman of the energy committee, stressed the strategic benefits to the United States of rising domestic oil production, including providing flexibility in dealing with trouble spots such as Iran. “It doesn’t make sense that American producers are blocked by U.S. law from selling to the same markets that Iran could reach once the sanctions are lifted,” Murkowski said.
“It is important for us to recognize that if these sanctions on Iran are lifted and we in fact keep our own domestic sanctions in place it effectively ends up being a liability for us,” Murkowski said. “U.S. producers should be allowed to compete directly with Iran in the global market.”
EIA Administrator Sieminski said rising U.S. oil production – currently at 9.2 million barrels a day, its highest level since 1972 – has helped stabilize world markets and keep prices in check.
“The impact of U.S. production goes beyond just the Iranian sanctions issue,” Sieminski said. “Back in 2012 and 2013, there were some really serious interruptions in oil production in countries like Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and others. They add up to a huge amount of oil – over 2 million barrels a day, at one point approaching 3 million barrels a day. If it hadn’t been for the growth in shale production in the U.S. and production in a few other countries, including Canada, the price of oil would have been a lot higher. Obviously that would have been a benefit to producers but the overall impact on the economy could have been pretty devastating. The growth in production in the U.S. played an important role in stabilizing the global oil markets.”
Murkowski has long called for modernizing U.S. energy and trade policy to end the ban on crude oil exports. In March, she held a hearing looking at the economic and strategic benefits of ending the outdated export prohibition. Murkowski released a report last year on the need to liberalize America’s energy trade policies.
The end of week Consumer Energy Alliance energy links:
The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration Proposes New Offshore Drilling Rules
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governor Walker Secures Promise from Legislative Leadership on Confirmation Votes
April 17, 2015 JUNEAU—Governor Bill Walker today revoked his proclamation to convene the House and Senate into a joint session today at 10 a.m. to vote on his appointments.
“I just wrapped up a meeting with House Speaker Mike Chenault and Senate President Kevin Meyer,” Governor Walker said. “They gave me their word that each of the 89 appointments would be given an up or down vote on Sunday. I trust them.”
Governor Walker said revoking the proclamation is an important step toward a positive relationship with legislative leadership.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governor Walker Vetoes Bill That Ties Alaska’s Hands During Pipeline Negotiations
April 17, 2015 JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker today vetoed HB 132, making good on a March 2 promise when the bill was introduced.
“This veto in no way means the end of discussions with legislative leadership,” Governor Walker said. “We continue to have multiple meetings to ensure AKLNG is successful and remains the priority while maintaining access to a backup option.”
HB 132 limits the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) from actively working on any gas line project other than the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas (AKLNG) line. The State of Alaska is a partner in AKLNG along with TransCanada, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP.
“We cannot have legislation that ties Alaska’s hands while we are trying to negotiate the best possible gas line deal for Alaskans,” Governor Walker said. “This bill prevents the state from having an adequate backup plan should the AKLNG efforts not proceed.”
Governor Walker also continues to meet with AKLNG partners to advance this project. Governor Walker has said multiple times AKLNG remains his administration’s priority and having a backup option with the ASAP line will not interfere with the AKLNG project.
(Attached: Veto letters to House Speaker & Senate President; Governor’s veto signature)
LEGISLATIVE NEWS RELEASE: New Bills Seek Savings for Electricity Along Railbelt
SB105 and HB187 would create the Railbelt Electric Transmission Authority
JUNEAU-Two bills have been introduced this week to help reduce electricity costs for a majority of Alaskans by creating the Railbelt Electrical Transmission Authority (RETA) to manage electrical transmission along the Railbelt. The Railbelt is Alaska’s largest interconnected electric transmission area and home to the largest population centers: from Fairbanks in the north through the Mat-Su Borough, Anchorage, Seward and Homer in the south.
The House Special Committee on Energy, co-chaired by Representatives Liz Vazquez, R-Anchorage, and Jim Colver, R-Palmer introduced House Bill 187 on Friday, while Senator Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, introduced its companion bill, Senate Bill 105, in the Senate on Saturday.
“Historically, we have had three generation and transmission (G&T) utilities along the Railbelt which had regional responsibility and voluntary compliance,” said Senator McGuire. “Now we have five G&T utilities, each with their own regional challenges that cannot be resolved with the current structure. We need to find a way to establish predictable, reliable and affordable economic dispatch across the Railbelt with open access policies for independent power producers. There are tremendous savings possible for the consumer with a unified transmission system.”
“Delivering affordable energy efficiently is absolutely crucial for Alaskan families and for our state’s economic development – and our Railbelt grid needs to be up to the task,” said Representative Liz Vazquez, R-Anchorage. “As a former utility board member, I’ve seen this problem first-hand, and we’ve been working very hard this session to start developing a long-term solution. These bills are the first step in solving the problem and bringing affordable energy efficiently to the Railbelt.”
The legislation proposes the Railbelt Transmission Authority would be a division of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) which is currently the agency that oversees and regulates Alaska’s utilities. Several similar concepts have been proposed by various utilities in recent years including the Alaska Railbelt Cooperative Transmission and Electric Company (ARCTEC) and Transco (a Railbelt transmission company). Though ownership structures differ in all three proposals each have similar goals: economic dispatch of electricity across the Railbelt, open and non-discriminatory access, regional planning of future transmission infrastructure and reduced end-user costs.
“It is important to state that this bill is a starting point,” said Representative Colver. “We are starting a conversation that I hope results in a more efficient use of our power generation and transmission systems on the Railbelt. Our goal is to lower the costs of energy to consumers. I look forward to working with the RCA and engaging with all stakeholders.”
The sponsors of the legislation do not plan on advancing the bill during the current legislative session, but plan to hold meetings over the interim to further develop the plan in preparation for next January.
For more information, please contact Josh Walton in Representative Liz Vazquez’s office at 907-465-3892, David Scott in Representative Colver’s office at 907-465-4859, or Jesse Logan in Senator McGuire’s office at 907-465-2995.
Calgary Herald by Stephen Ewart. Record oil production, increasingly complex energy transportation issues and unprecedented public engagement aren’t enough to prevent a nearly 25 per cent cut to the budget and large reduction in staff at the National Energy Board over the next two years.
News of the “operational realities” confronting the NEB — which will mean 73 fewer employees — emerged late last week with release of its 2015-16 Report on Plans and Priorities.
The reason for the drop-off in funding is easily explained.(More)
KTOO. The Senate Finance Committee plans confirmation hearings for Gov. Bill Walker’s appointees to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. board.
The hearings for Rick Halford, Joe Paskvan and Hugh Short are scheduled for Tuesday (Today).
They would replace three members removed by Walker earlier this year, including former pipeline and oil company executives.
Some lawmakers have raised questions .... (More)
Today's RELEVANT Consumer Energy Alliance energy links:
Bill Martinez Live: Bill Martinez Show April 7, 2015 Michael Whatley (NGP Photo) Interview
Associated Press: Greenpeace activists board drill rig retained by Shell for Arctic offshore drilling
Six Greenpeace activists protesting Arctic offshore drilling on Monday boarded a drill rig as it was transported across the Pacific Ocean toward Seattle, where it will be staged for drilling on Shell leases in Alaska waters. The 400-foot Polar Pioneer, owned by Transocean Ltd., was on board a heavy-lift vessel about 750 miles northwest of Hawaii when the activists approached in inflatable boats and used climbing gear to get on board, Greenpeace spokesman Travis Nichols said.
Real Clear Energy: Keystone XL Traded For Arctic Drilling Rights?
Few debates in energy have been more contentious than Keystone XL (KXL). Environmental groups opposed the pipeline and turned out a grass roots movement that astonished even battle weary Enviros. It also caused serious problems for the industry as their assets became stranded and they were forced to ship crude by rail and barge. It is estimated that this amounted to approximately $17B over the past few years in lost revenue due to public accountability campaigns. But it looks as though the Obama Administration and Big Oil merely traded KXL for Arctic drilling rights.
National Journal: Life After Keystone: The Future of the Climate Movement When the Pipeline Battle Ends
President Obama could reject or approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline any day, week or month now. And as a decision looms, environmentalists face a daunting question: Can they recreate the kind of mass appeal that Keystone inspires when the pipeline battle ends?
The New York Times: Laurence Tribe Fights Climate Case Against Star Pupil From Harvard, President Obama
Laurence H. Tribe, the highly regarded liberal scholar of constitutional law, still speaks of President Obama as a proud teacher would of a star student. “He was one of the most amazing research assistants I’ve ever had,” Mr. Tribe said in a recent interview. Mr. Obama worked for him at Harvard Law School, where Mr. Tribe has taught for four decades.
CBS News: Is oil and gas to blame for Okla. earthquakes?
Kim Hatfield, with the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, says the science to prove a definitive link simply isn't there. "Coincidence is not correlation," said Hatfield. "This area has been seismically active over eons and the fact that this is unprecedented in our experience doesn't necessarily mean it hasn't happened before."
The Independent: A disaster waiting to happen in Oklahoma?
Until very recently earthquakes were a rare occurrence in Oklahoma. Not any more. In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey recorded just two earthquakes above 3.0 on the Richter Scale in Oklahoma. In 2014 it recorded 585, including 15 that measured over 4.0. The state is on target to break through 800 in 2015, taking California’s crown as the most active seismic state in the country.
Wall Street Journal: Fewer oil trains ply America’s rails
The growth in oil-train shipments fueled by the U.S. energy boom has stalled in recent months, dampened by safety problems and low crude prices.
Associated Press: Oil train cars need urgent upgrades
A spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute said the organization supports a "science-based" approach to safety that includes track maintenance and repairs in addition to any tank car upgrades.
Bloomberg: Safety Board Urges Aggressive Timetable to Replace Oil Tank Cars
U.S. railroad cars used to haul oil should be upgraded or replaced within five years with sturdier models better able to prevent explosions after derailments, federal safety investigators said in a proposal made public Monday.
Houston Chronicle: Oil's jolt means jingle for summer travelers
The global crude collapse that has jolted the oil industry will usher in the least expensive driving season in years, with pump prices expected to hover near $2 per gallon at some stations. Peak-season gasoline hasn’t been that low since 2009 during the economic downturn.
Statesman Journal: Oregon debates HF moratorium
A legislative committee will hear testimony Tuesday on a bill that would put a 10-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas exploration and production in the state. Proponents tout the economic benefits brought to communities with wells and the energy independence they afford.
The Motley Fool: The Biggest Threat Facing Offshore Drillers Keeps Getting Worse
Few industries have been so negatively affected by the oil crash as offshore drillers. In the past I've attempted to find drillers whose contract backlogs were relatively insulated from the downturn. To this effect I recommended SeaDrill Partners, because just 20% of its rigs had contracts expiring through 2016. Now however, news of contract cancellations from BP mean that the risk of contract cancellations -- which I believe to be the biggest risk to the industry -- is rising and in a most alarming way. Find out why and what it might mean for your portfolio.
The Hill: Hope for bipartisan action on energy
Hold onto your hats, there just may be bipartisan legislation on the horizon. And who would have guessed that after the hyper-partisan Keystone XL showdown, the topic to come together on would be of all things, energy? First, in the wee hours of March 27, after the contentious budget resolution was passed at 3 a.m., Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) appeared on a nearly empty Senate floor and quietly passed a stripped down version of their energy efficiency bill with a unanimous vote of two.
Fuel Fix: U.S. refiners can bulk up to consume more domestic oil
The United States can boost its consumption of the light oil increasingly flowing out of domestic wells today, a new government report finds, even as it warns that potential changes to the nation’s longstanding ban on raw crude exports risk undermining those investments.
Fuel Fix: Tensions ignite on East Coast as White House weighs Atlantic drilling
The prospect of a new generation of Atlantic drilling is stirring a heated debate up and down the East Coast, as fierce opponents warn that offshore oil development could jeopardize marine life and tourism-based economies. Oil industry leaders, meanwhile, are touting the potential jobs and economic gains that could flow along with crude from wells drilled at least 50 miles off the shores of Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas. They envision a new frontier of Atlantic production that could emerge as a profitable replacement to shale oil extraction or continued pumping from the heavily tapped Gulf of Mexico.
Huffington Post: Illinois poll shows strong opposition to HF
Nearly half of Illinois voters oppose fracking, according to a new poll by the Simon Institute. The statewide poll reveals 48.6 percent oppose fracking while only 31.8 percent believe it should be encouraged, even if there are economic benefits. Opponents outnumber supporters in all regions of the state, including downstate where fracking is promoted as a jobs plan.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Gas tax can’t ignore prices
It's Wolf's misfortune to be attempting to address this failure in the midst of a gas glut. Given that the regional natural-gas price has plummeted by more than half over the past year, legislators and others have rightly questioned whether the governor's projected $1 billion a year in revenue from the levy is realistic.
Lancaster Online: Restoring aging county-owned bridges tied to impact fee
The Lancaster County commissioners are addressing the problem by turning to impact fee revenue from natural gas drillers. As of February, the county had $2.2 million available, said county engineer Scott Russell of Rettew Associates. The commissioners are counting on continuing impact fee revenue to help fund the replacement or repair of nearly all 44 county-owned concrete or steel bridges over the next five years.
Power Source: EPA analysis details water usage in HF
The EPA’s report shows that many drillers in Pennsylvania and Ohio are reusing water more often than their counterparts in the West. More than 70 percent of disclosures that identified water sources in Ohio and Pennsylvania identified some amount of reused and associated types of water in base fluids.
The Post and Courier: Seismic testing permits go to public hearing
Nine companies so far want to use seismic guns to search for oil and natural gas off the South Carolina coast. The federal permits for them are up for public hearingWednesday. The hearing comes amid a swell of opposition that has been mounting since federal regulators last year gave a preliminary nod to the permits, opening an evaluation period by federal and state agencies.
Baltimore Sun: HF moratorium passes senate
By a 45-2 vote, senators sent the measure to the House, which has passed a version of the bill that environmental advocates believe is stronger. The House bill calls for a three-year moratorium and further study of the health and economic development impact of the practice. The Senate bill does not require a study.
Associated Press: ‘Fight Club’ actor speaks out against HF
In films, he’s played poker with Matt Damon and fought with Brad Pitt. Now actor Edward Norton is lending his voice to the anti-fracking campaign in Maryland.
San Antonio Business Journal: Series of earthquakes shakes Permian Basin in recent weeks
A series of three earthquakes hit the Permian Basin along the oil and natural gas-rich lands along the Pecos and Reeves county lines over the past two weeks, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Santa Fe New Mexican: NM oil production holds steady
Newly released numbers indicate that the pace of oil production in New Mexico did not slow in January. According to figures from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, oil-and-gas companies doing business in the state in January reported a production level of almost 13.6 million barrels of oil.
CBC News: HF criticism spreads, even in Alberta and Texas
The Alberta Energy Regulator, which is responsible for enforcing industry policies, rejects claims that fracking affects human or animal health. The AER says hydraulic fracturing, in use in Alberta since the 1950s, is one of several well-established methods of recovering oil and gas.