Fairbanks News Miner. Tucked away in this year’s Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, a $175 million bill that just passed the Senate by a unanimous vote, is a land transfer that could be consequential for Alaska’s future role in the Arctic. Conveying 2,500 acres of federal land to state control at Point Clarence on the Seward Peninsula, the provision could set the location for a long-sought deepwater port for the northern half of the state. It’s the latest in a slow-moving chain of events coming together into a framework for Alaska’s future role as a leader in arctic affairs — if those here and in Washington, D.C. maintain their focus.
Point Clarence is northwest of Nome, near the tip of the Seward Peninsula that constitutes the westernmost reach of the North American continent. It’s 786 miles almost due north of the state’s closest existing deepwater port in Unalaska. In shipping terms, that’s a world away. The port in Unalaska is well more than 1,000 miles from offshore oil exploration sites in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, a fact that complicated producer Shell’s efforts to coordinate the movements of its oil platform and associated ships when drilling test wells.
TODAY, 12 P.M. ALASKA TIME, 2525 C Street, Anchorage. Our friend, Mike Pawlowski, Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, will brief us on the latest energy legislation in Washington, D.C. Those outside of Anchorage, may teleconference: (907) 276-4900.
Calgary Herald by Chris Varcoe and Darcy Henton. More corporate layoffs, oil prices sinking below $40 and a grim drilling forecast for the battered energy industry sparked a new round of anxiety and finger-pointing at the legislature Wednesday.
Two large Calgary-based companies, pipeline giant TransCanada Corp. and city-owned power utility Enmax Corp., confirmed they’re trimming more staff as layoffs continue to mount in Alberta.
Today's relevant energy links from Consumer Energy Alliance:
The Florida Times-Union: Opponents, advocates of offshore drilling along Georgia coast try to sway federal energy official
The possibility of oil wells off Georgia’s coast brought advocates and opponents to a state office building Thursday for the chance to sway the federal official who’ll make decisions on testing and drilling. The panel discussion was organized by the Consumer Energy Alliance, a nationwide group of truckers, manufacturers and other energy users that claims 12,000 supporters in Georgia.
Savannah Morning News: Offshore-drilling supporters, opponents vent to fed official
The possibility of oil wells off Georgia’s coast brought advocates and opponents to a state office building Thursday for the chance to convince the federal official who’ll decide about testing and drilling.
World News Report: Opponents, advocates of offshore drilling along Georgia coast try to sway federal energy official
The possibility of oil wells off Georgia’s coast brought advocates and opponents to a state office building Thursday for the chance to sway the federal official who’ll make decisions on testing and drilling. The panel discussion was organized by the Consumer Energy Alliance, a nationwide group of truckers, manufacturers and other energy users that claims 12,000 supporters in Georgia.
WRVA-Richmond: The Jimmy Barrett Show
1410 WIZM: La Crosse Talk with Mike Hayes
Dayton Business Journal: Good news for homeowners this winter
There is good news for homeowners this winter as heating bills are projected to be 10 percent lower than last year. That's thanks to America’s ongoing energy revolution in which oil and natural gas has been flowing out of U.S. shale formations, boosting inventories to record highs heading into winter.
Electric Energy Online: Department of Energy Releases Final Environmental Impact Statement for Largest Clean Energy Infrastructure Project in U.S. Plains & Eastern
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project, marking an important step towards the construction of America's largest clean energy project.
Consumer Energy Alliance: CEA Holds Offshore Energy Forum in Atlanta
Today, Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) hosted the 2015 Atlantic Energy Forum in Atlanta, Georgia featuring Abigail Ross Hopper, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, state officials, and members of the business and environmental community.
UPI: No drilling in the Atlantic, regional parties say
City officials and business leaders visited Washington, D.C., to pressure the White House to keep Atlantic basins off limits to energy explorers. The U.S. Interior Department in February released a draft proposal for 2017-22 for access to federal waters. Ten leases are planned for the Gulf of Mexico, three for offshore Alaska and one, a debut, for waters in the Atlantic.
The Hill: East Coast leaders tell Obama to reject offshore drilling in Atlantic
Today, a group of business representatives, local government officials and coastal leaders from towns along the Eastern Seaboard arrived in Washington with a clear message to the president: They don't want oil drilling off their coast, and they want to make sure their concerns are being heard in the White House.
The Hill: Top coal exec slams 'destroyer' Obama, power plant rules
A top coal executive and frequent critic of Obama administration environmental regulations will slam the president Thursday as a “destroyer” of the coal industry and hit his key climate rule as “blatantly illegal.” “There is no doubt that the administration of President Obama is the greatest destroyer and enemy of available, reliable, affordable electricity that the United States has every seen,” Robert Murray, the president and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., will say in a Thursday speech, according to an advanced copy provided to The Hill.
Forbes: More Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas Sanctions Carbon Capture and Storage
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an evolving technology that can capture 90% of the CO2 emissions released from the use of fossil fuels in power generation and industrial processes, thereby preventing CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Fuel Fix: From space travel to video games, Big Oil pulls tech collaborators from a range of industries
These days, Big Oil’s arsenal of gadgets includes plenty of tech developed by industry outsiders, like robots designed by robots, MRI scanners and satellites that can see subtle gravitational changes within the earth. But even so, it still takes oil companies too long to adopt technologies that emerge outside the energy sector, Royal Dutch Shell’s top technology executive said on Thursday.
EIA: Passenger travel accounts for most of world transportation energy use
The transportation of people and goods accounts for about 25% of all energy consumption in the world. Passenger transportation, in particular light-duty vehicles, accounts for most transportation energy consumption—light-duty vehicles alone consume more than all freight modes of transportation, such as heavy trucks, marine, and rail.
Bloomberg: Saudi Oil Minister Says OPEC with Others to Stabilize Market
Saudi Arabia is working with other OPEC members and producers from outside the group to stabilize the market, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said. The global economy is going through an unstable period, al-Naimi said. Crude demand is expected to rise by 1 million barrels a day every year in this decade, and the world requires more investments in oil to compensate for declining recovery rates, he said.
OilPrice.com: Forget Keystone XL, TransCanada to Invest More Than $3 Billion Here
The U.S. rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline may have been a disappointment for TransCanada Corp., the company that wanted to build it, but it wasn’t the only potentially lucrative project in the company’s future. President Obama announced Nov. 6 that he was rejecting TransCanada’s proposal to build the 1,179-mile pipeline that would have transported 800,000 barrels a day of carbon-laden crude oil from Canada’s oil sands fields to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
Fairbanks Daily News Miner: Legislators to discuss Interior Alaska oil basin potential
The state Senate Oil and Gas Tax Credit Working Group will be hosting a meeting this Friday. The meeting includes presentations from the Alaska Department of Revenue and the Department of Natural Resources to review the state’s efforts to promote development of oil and gas.
Alaska Dispatch News: Arctic investment fund attracts $125 million
Pt Capital, an Anchorage-based private equity firm investing exclusively in four Arctic countries, announced this week that it attracted more than $125 million to its inaugural fund. Pt Arctic Fund I requires a minimum investment of $10 million and promises a compounded annual return of at least 20 percent, according to its brochure, filed in November with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Energy Global: Refiners triple California profits, says Consumer Watchdog
The three major refiners that provide detailed profit information reported their best ever year to date from oil refining in California. Each company has, at least, tripled their average historical profits in the third quarter, according to Consumer Watchdog analysis.
Aspen Daily News: BLM leans toward canceling oil and gas leases on Thompson
The Bureau of Land Management released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS)Wednesday that put 65 existing oil and gas leases on White River National Forest land under the microscope. The agency found that 25 leases in the controversial Thompson Divide area must be either wholly or partially cancelled.
Midland Reporter-Telegram: Low oil prices continue to hammer Permian oil activity
Low oil prices continue to hammer the Permian Basin’s oil and gas economy. Amarillo Economist Karr Ingham reports the Texas Permian Basin Petroleum Index posted its 10th consecutive monthly decline, with the September index 26.6 percent below September 2014. The index peaked last November.
Dallas Business Journal: Ex-Dallas mayor Ron Kirk takes job as pitchman for LNG industry
Two liquefied natural gas export terminals are under construction in Texas, but if a newly-formed group has its way there will be several more coming. Former Dallas Mayor and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is taking the helm as chairman of a new group named "Texans for LNG."
Amarillo Globe News: Falling gas prices help consumers
With gas prices falling at historic rates, households are expected to save $700 on average this year and see lower prices for goods and travel at levels not seen since 2007 for the Thanksgiving holiday.
KFOR News 4: Big changes coming for oil and gas companies in Oklahoma following massive earthquakes
Many Oklahomans were awakened Thursday morning by the largest earthquake the state has seen this year. A 4.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded near Cherokee around1:42 a.m. Many people called the KFOR newsroom saying they felt it in the metro, down south near the Red River, and up near Tulsa.
Plain Dealer: Utica shale boom moving closer to reality, CSU economists predict
The enormous productivity of Ohio's shale gas industry has done more than drive down gas prices and create jobs on drilling rigs in rural Ohio. Shale gas well development over the last four years, though now at a crawl because of low prices, has already set the stage for a petrochemical and plastics manufacturing boom.
Newsnet 5 Cleveland: Gas prices expected to stay low into New Year due to fracking and China's economy
Low gas prices are expected to stay through the New Year, thanks to an abundance of oil from fracking and China's lackluster economy. That's according to a Kent State University assistant finance professor.
The Beaufort Gazette: Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling in Washington to oppose offshore drilling
Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling was in Washington, D.C., this week to oppose offshore drilling and testing for oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean. Keyserling was part of a group of coastal municipal leaders in the nation's capital to meet with federal officials ahead of an updated proposal on offshore drilling expected from President Barack Obama's administration early next year.
West Virginia Record: Bill proposed to ban Marcellus Shale export to other countries
A bill in Congress has been proposed that could ban the export of Marcellus Shale gas to other countries. Retired Capt. James McCormick, the State Program Director of Vets4Energy, said the bill was being kicked around in Congress, along with the bill to lift the crude oil ban that was passed earlier this year.
StateImpact Pennsylvania: Gas processing plants reach settlement with EPA over alleged violations
The owners of five Pennsylvania natural gas processing plants have reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly failing to take measures to guard against spills and leaks on their sites in McKean and Warren Counties, the EPA said on Thursday.
Miami Herald: A debate over how to brighten solar power’s future in Florida
When Simon Rose looks around his North Grove neighborhood, a Miami enclave of manicured lawns where meticulously renovated older homes mix with newly constructed mini mansions, he doesn’t see a swanky neighborhood. He sees a power grid fueled by rooftop solar panels.
9-30-15 Natural Gas Reserves Tax: Governor Walker's Brilliant Strategy For Encouraging Industry Investment in Alaska
Natural Gas Reserves Tax: Governor Bill Walker's 'Brilliant Strategy' For Encouraging Industry Investment in Alaska
Governor Bill Walker (NGP Photo) has spent a career and millions of OPM (i.e. other people's money) dollars on Quixotic wanderings around the world in failed attempts to make his infeasible visions of an Alaska LNG project economically viable.
See today's comment by our Mid-Atlantic analyst friend on Shell's departure and an earlier, expensive, Alaskan dry hole.
See our additional, 3-1-12 commentary in box below-right. -dh
As a governor, he is now using bullying tactics to achieve his latest vision of an Alaska LNG export project controlled, at least in part, by him.
Not being personally satisfied with the reasonable progress producers are making toward gas pipeline investment decisions, Walker has ordered a special session of the Legislature and is "upping the ante", calling for implementation of a "reserves tax" on natural gas that would, in essence, tax companies for not marketing the gas.
(...as if oil and gas companies do not want to sell their expensively obtained, proven reserves.)
He convened a media gathering on September 25 to discuss the special session and we encourage our critically thinking readers to carefully evaluate the tenor, logic and quality of his interaction with reporters. Also make note of questions reporters did not ask that you would have asked.
On September 25, 2015 -- the same day -- the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee invited a presentation by legislative consultant, Enalytica, on potential impacts of a reserves tax on gas.
The slide presentation results are both logical and predictable and we link the presentation here for you to review and assemble your own conclusions. Aside from the potential impact on a gas pipeline and its potential investors, the Walker reserves tax proposal sends a chilling signal to all potential Alaskan investors.
...from our 3-1-12 Commentary.
"No one objects to reasonable and predictable taxes for the oil industry or anyone else, but a taxing authority, to command respect and encourage investment, should not only seek a fair share for itself but give a fair shake to the taxpayer.
That means predictable tax policy, stable policy, policy that does not discriminate, policy that is never retroactive--unless retroactivity benefits the taxpayer.
A good tax policy would also focus on filling the pipeline, making a sustainable investment climate for our kids; indeed, husbanding our resources as if we were responsible adults who care not just for the need-greed of this generation but for the economic survival of future generations of Alaska's children." -dh
We believe it unassailable that the Walker reserves tax idea sends this signal to those who may be contemplating an investment in Alaska: "You can invest and agree to the rules of the game. But we are a 'sovereign state, by golly,' and if we want we can increase taxes or add new taxes anytime we want--and as in the past we can make those tax changes apply retroactively if we want.
"Be advised: if we spend state money irresponsibly and create a deficit, you have deeper pockets than our citizens, small businesses, the hallowed fishing industry or the tourism industry; accordingly, in such a case we will come after YOU."
This provincial, "think locally not globally" attitude has permeated the thoughts and actions of a loud, vocal minority of Alaskans throughout Walker's pro-oil tax, anti-Canadian pipeline, gasline partner hostility career. This unhealthy, illogical and myopic attitude ignores that Alaska's resources compete with other oil & gas provinces, mostly close to tidewater. Most of Alaska's competitors:
- don't have to construct an 800 mile pipeline to move resources to tidewater, and
- have lower labor costs, and
- are in closer proximity to the markets, and
- operate in friendlier climates, and
- enjoy lower logistical costs
Therefore, Alaska must be EXTRA competitive. In the past, the Prudhoe Bay oilfield saved Alaska from having to act responsibly and be competitive. It was the largest field in North America, prolific beyond imagination and supplied 20% of America's domestic oil demand. In spite of predatory state taxation Prudhoe Bay was profitable.
Alaska now has to learn humility in order to be competitive. Alaska is no longer the biggest oil producing state. It is now 4th, after North Dakota, Texas and California.
Production -- upon which 90% of the state operating budget and over a third of the state economy depends -- continues to decline.
Today, world oil prices are half as high as state revenue forecasters predicted and upon which politicians based their high public spending decisions.
In our columns since Monday, readers have learned much about what Shell's Alaskan Arctic OCS departure portends for the state's undiversified, oil-dependent economy.
One would think that with Alaska's economy teetering on the edge of insolvency (i.e. Scroll down for our commentary since Monday), a prudent Alaskan leader would respond accordingly.
One prudent response would be to kindle dynamic efforts to become attractive to natural resource investors, especially in light of Shell's departure.
But now, our Quixotic champion doubles down on threatening the state's three major investors -- BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil -- whose presence has sustained Alaska in unprecedented wellbeing for half a century.
He proposes levying a new tax on the three major investors for the gas that is not yet marketable. We believe it's partly because of his actions and words: he is desperate to be a part of -- if not in charge of -- a real, live LNG export project. But his irresponsible industry-hostility is a form of populism which could mobilize some pro-tax citizen sentiment in a state that has not responsibly controlled its lavish public spending.
Throughout life, we have generally avoided the temptation to engage in sarcasm or petty and trite clichés.
But when a person happens into high position and acts contrary to logic, basic courtesy and fairness, critics might with justification refer sarcastically to that behavior as, "brilliant".
And, as to clichés, well, "...if the shoe fits, wear it!"
Yesterday's news about Shell pulling out of its Arctic exploration program could also have some good news for long term oil markets. The USGS had previously estimated that the Arctic contained ~90 billion barrels of recoverable oil - with a goodly part of this being in the US sector. Some recent media reports had quoted this number as being "reserves", whereas they are in fact highly speculative prospective resources.
Given the very very few drilling based data points that this number was based on, Shell's failed Burger J well is likely to significantly downgrade this number - possibly by a number as large as tens of billions of barrels.
Henry Hub gas prices fell yesterday to US$2.59. Expected mild Autumnal weather in the US was the key driver.
Platts has recently reported that Asian spot LNG prices (for delivery in October) are expected to fall again. Mild weather on this side of the Pacific, combined with currently high inventory numbers, is the main causal factor behind the fall. A strong El Nino later this year will only reinforce this.
The interaction of these low Pacific prices with the expected wave of US LNG due to start by the end of this year is unclear. Existing contracted gas purchases will trump spot price economics and the likes of Cheniere should be protected by take or pay contracts for their liquefaction capacity - but the actual volumetric output from the plants (and hence the effect on Henry Hub gas prices) may be less than previously expected.
First ... the dry hole Sohio and BP drilled off-shore of the North Slope of Alaska many years ago. In the link below, others apparently also remember it. Mukluk was one of the mis-steps by Sohio management that finally convinced BP to buy out the minority public interest of Sohio, and replace the management.
This old memory still works (sometimes).
As it is described in the link:
There, in the Beaufort Sea, a consortium of companies invested nearly $1 billion in the 1980s drilling a well named Mukluk.
They were confident they’d find oil. At the time, geologists boasted that it was an incredibly low-risk venture, in part because the formation appeared to mimic the massive Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska’s North Slope.
But their bullishness was misplaced. In December 1983, it was revealed the well contained nothing but salt water and traces of long-gone oil.
Decades later geologists armed with new data theorized that the oil actually had been sucked out by BP from an existing site onshore on the North Slope.
For decades, Mukluk has been considered the industry’s most expensive dry hole — a case study in what can go wrong below ground, even when everything else operationally goes right.
Shell’s Burger J well might give it competition.
|See more of yesterday's reports and reactions from U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo), various news sources yesterday, more sources today, and our commentary.|
Tuesday's Early Report: In Wake Of Shell's Announcement Yesterday That After $7 Billion Invested and Over A Half Decade of Delay and Disruption Mostly Caused By America's Government, It Is Withdrawing From Arctic OCS Exploration (Statements by Governor Walker (below), Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Consumer Energy Alliance, Congressman Don Young (NGP Photo) via American Energy Alliance. -dh
Yesterday, after absorbing Shell's announcement, Alaska Governor Bill Walker (NGP Photo) said in a statement we received, “I thank the people of Shell for all their hard work on offshore exploration and their strong focus on safety.
We would have said, "...it is a reminder that underscores our need to better cooperate with the oil industry, help it compete in every reasonable way and endeavor to not be an obstacle to industry investment in our state."
Instead, Walker doubles down on being a natural resource dictator. His actions can only lead to less investment, and, troublingly, an effort to socialize and seize ownership of natural resource projects.
How else can the governor's arrogance be explained? -dh
"While the company’s recent announcement is disappointing, it is a reminder that underscores the need for Alaska to drive its own destiny through development of known gas resources, as well as rich oil reserves in a small area of ANWR.
"I contacted the White House this morning to set up meetings to discuss the potential impact of Shell’s decision, as well as Alaska’s need to explore in the 1002 area.”
Alaska Oil and Gas Association President and CEO Kara Moriarty (NGP Photo) on Shell’s announcement
It is a sobering day for Alaska; both in the short and long-term," Moriarty said yesterday.
"Today’s news from Shell is a painful reminder that exploration is expensive, involves huge risk, and does not guarantee success.
Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) President David Holt (NGP Photo) and CEA-Alaska President Anne Seneca issued the following statement yesterday in response to Shell’s announcement about its exploration activities offshore Alaska:
“Contrary to the previous rhetoric of anti-development activists, the 2015 Chukchi Sea exploration season provides further evidence that drilling can be done safely in the U.S. Arctic offshore. Furthermore, while extremists irresponsibly cheer the decision to put plans for further offshore exploration on hold for now, today’s announcement underscores the need for a more stable and reasonable federal regulatory environment,” said David Holt. “According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than 63 percent of American energy will come from oil and natural gas by 2040. Finding and developing new resources is in EVERYONE’S interest, especially those Americans who can least afford to pay more for gasoline and electricity.”
According to Holt, “as the Interior Department mulls Arctic offshore drilling regulations and requests for U.S. Arctic lease extensions, and with the 2015 season accompanied by just-in-time permitting and conflicting agency decisions that prevented the drilling of more than one well, the federal government must commit to ensuring a regulatory environment that encourages rather than disincentivizes investment in the exploration of this region. CEA applauds Shell for its dedication to meeting consumer energy needs, as well as its patience with the unwieldy regulatory process and litigation delays over the past seven years and its persistent efforts to explore the potential for the production of American Arctic offshore energy resources.”
“Fossil fuels will be the primary contributor to meeting our energy needs for decades to come. At a time when lower 48 crude oil production is expected to decline over the long term, it is incumbent on federal decision-makers to do everything possible to accommodate the domestic development of these resources, including those in the Arctic.”
“Energy and the environment can and must occur together,” added Anne Seneca. “The environment is very important to Alaskans – and people everywhere. But so is economic opportunity and jobs for this and future generations. Developing our resources is important for our national security and future generations.”
For more information visit Consumer Energy Alliance.
"It would be interesting to know what the results would have been if Shell had been allowed this summer to conduct a multi-well program versus the very limited program of only one exploration well.
"It is now more important than ever for state policymakers and lawmakers to work together to ensure Alaska’s oil and gas industry has a viable future in this state; just like Shell, the companies working in the Cook Inlet and on the North Slope need legal, fiscal, and permitting predictability and consistency in order to make the sizeable investments required to keep the Trans Alaska Pipeline operational for many years.
"Shell’s departure is also a blow for the hundreds of employees who call Alaska home, as well as the many contractors and small businesses that began working on Arctic development as a result of Shell’s $7 billion investment.
"This decision will not halt oil and gas development in the Arctic Ocean, but, as of today, that development will be done by countries other than the United States that lack the stringent environmental standards demanded of industry in the U.S. There are very few companies that could meet these federal requirements and expensive demands, but even large companies with the financial resources like Shell will walk away from mega opportunities when they cannot continue to spend billions of dollars without any promise of a return.
"The Arctic Offshore has rightly been viewed as the next generation of oil and gas development in this state, so for those plans to disappear overnight is beyond painful. It is also a clear reminder about how a state dependent on one industry for 90 percent of its spending needs to look constantly for new developments in oil and gas development.
Moriarty concluded that, "With 27 billion barrels of known oil reserves in the Arctic Offshore, the Outer Continental Shelf was supposed to be Alaska’s next big opportunity.”
For more information visit AOGA.
More reactions keep coming in....
Bloomberg by Paul Barret. After spending $7 billion on a single well ... what?
From Our Mid-Atlantic Energy Analyst friend:
Some of the biggest long-term prospects for providing major oil supplies a decade are disappearing from consideration.
The US Arctic is unlikely to see any further interest for some years to come. It may be that the oil simply is not there in commercial quantities (this writer remembers that Sohio drilled the most expensive dry hole to that time in 1979 from a man-made island off the coast of Alaska), or they simply wanted to preserve capital for less risky plays.
Regardless, this is not the only such regional play, which just a couple of years ago had great prospects, that now appears dead in the water (bad pun). Consider Brazil’s pre-salt plays; even if oil prices had not fallen, Petrobras was going to have real trouble making a success there (this is a whole set of separate columns). We see this play going nowhere the rest of this decade.
We also wrote recently about the North Sea entering into curtailment mode; there will be more shut-downs than new plots drilled. Offshore US is not even mentioned these days.
The Alaskan North Slope is struggling to keep an adequate daily flow of oil for the Alaska pipeline; it is not far from reaching a critical level, and it is certainly not helped by the present price level for oil that does flow. If it cannot stay above about 300,000 bpd, the whole thing faces shutdown and dismantlement. There are others.
The point is, the Megaprojects around the globe are getting long in the tooth, helped along by technology to keep production commercial but old just the same. If the next generation of Megaprojects is delayed by several years each, there will come a time when oil prices will once again be squeezed. It may not come soon enough to give much comfort to today’s producers, but it is coming just the same.
Congressman Don Young:
"I’m sure somewhere Sally Jewell and President Obama are smiling and celebrating Shell’s decision to cease operations off the coast of Alaska. For Alaskans, this announcement is a major blow to our local communities, the future of Alaska’s economy, and the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Make no mistake, this decision is the result of the Administration’s narrow-minded approach to responsible resource development – putting large areas off limits, while building insurmountable new hurdles to use areas that have been leased.”
See Our Aussie Energy Expert's Current View On Alaska's Energy 'Leadership'
ADN/AP Shell Announcement by Dan Joling/Yereth Rosen
Our Commentary On Shell's Alaskan Arctic OCS Exit
With Alaska's "Plan B" failing what's wrong with relying again on "Plan A"?
Alaskans will be seriously questioning the future of their state when they wake up and read the news this morning.
This is because Alaska is more than any other North American state or province dependent on oil production and production is down, down, down.
Alaska North Slope (ANS) production once fed about 20% of domestic oil supply at a rate in the '80s that exceeded 2 million barrels per day.
The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) transporting that oil is about 40 years old now and -- as important as it still is -- it is merely a reflection of its former, vigorous self, losing about 5% of its throughput every year as ANS field production declines. It's nearly 3/4 empty and without added production could shut down in a few years.
Shell's success could have helped sustain Alaska's job economy and ANS throughput in TAPS.
Alaska depends upon taxes and royalties from oil flowing through TAPS for almost 90% of its lavish state operating budget.
Recent statistics label it the highest per capita spending state in the nation and the highest per capita debtor state in the nation. It has the highest number of non-profit corporations in the country per capita, most of which are directly or indirectly dependent on oil for at least part of their budgets.
Available state savings accounts currently protect a $3.5 - 4 billion annual operating deficit, but that savings will be gone in a year or two. Even a return to $100/barrel oil would not put Alaska in the black based on current production and state spending trends.
In addition, over a third of the 49th State's total economy depends on oil revenue and oil-dependent jobs.
With falling production and increased opposition to oil operations both within and from outside Alaska, state policy has drifted aimlessly for many years.
It has pretty much been a policy of tax oil and spend that oil money while minimizing taxes/fees on people and maximizing transfers of state wealth to them.
"Plan A" first began to surface in the mid-1980s when various business groups began advocating for a constitutional amendment limiting government spending via a population and inflation formula.
By the early 1990s the University of Alaska's Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) began showing the public and elected leaders how very modest spending controls THEN could have provided a "safe" and sustainable glide path toward a long-term, sustainable economy for current and future generations.
ISER has provided another path to sustainability (i.e. "Maximum Sustainable Yield") for the last few years, also largely ignored.
Neither an effective constitutional spending limit nor economically viable "safe economic landing" were embraced by those holding the purse strings and whose pleasure and reelection were sustained by taxing oil and spending on constituent desires. (Note: Civic groups did succeed passing, in 1982, an amendment, but lawmakers loosened it to allow capital project designations, among others, to weaken the stricter "population and inflation" formula. (Alaska Constitution, Article IX, Sec. 16)
With oil income falling and spending continuing to increase over the years, even the most deluded politicians could see that "something should be done".
We call that "something" the strategy of hope, which took four forms:
a. Hope that the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act's congressionally authorized "1002" area within the Arctic National Wildlife Range (ANWR) would be successfully developed, contributing to TAPS throughput, jobs and economic stability; and
b. Hope that sufficient new oil would be found in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska to maintain robust throughput of TAPS, state economic stability and jobs; and
c. Hope that sufficient new oil would be found within existing Alaska North Slope fields and other state lands to maintain robust throughput of TAPS, jobs and state economic stability; and
d. Hope that sufficient new oil would be found in the Alaskan Arctic OCS to maintain robust throughput of TAPS, jobs and state economic stability.
And wouldn't it have been nice if all four hoped-four outcomes had materialized?
How has the strategy of hope worked out for Alaska?
Well, the State has continued its upward spending and taxing trend, somewhat ameliorated by an oil tax reform law two years ago, but continually challenged by liberal lawmakers and their constituencies since then.
The president is operating the federally owned land in ANWR as if it were a wilderness area -- part of his end run around Congress using the 'pen and a phone' tactic.
The president's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has promulgated regulations that effectively 'lock up' half of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A). Together with other regulatory agencies like the EPA, BLM has also significantly delayed and increased the expense of new oil production in areas of NPR-A that are open to exploration and development.
The current Governor is raising the old Palin flag of populism and anti-oil rhetoric, threatening the oil industry, endangering a pending LNG project, and signaling investors that investment even in existing oil fields -- and other state lands -- is accompanied by a high risk premium. Some even believe that the objective of the current governor is to socialize the energy industry (Our notes, here and here).
Now, on top of these first three disappointing Plan B results comes Shell's decision based, in part, on a hostile, federal regulatory regime.
Plan A -- involving support for Alaska's major industry and spending discipline -- didn't work out when the Plan B strategy of hope offered the above 4 lifelines.
Now that the reality is setting in that there is so little hope for the strategy of hope, Alaska may be forced to reconsider the best approach of all: the original Plan A.
Plan A has the negative qualities of being distasteful to big public spending and high oil taxing constituencies.
It requires citizens to 'do without' certain government amenities.
It requires lawmakers and the governor to seek the high road, be the adults in the room and prepare a sustainable economy for the next generation. This includes fighting the hostile and debilitating overreach of the federal government.
But Plan A has the major benefit of preventing intergenerational inequity, of providing a sustainable economy for Alaska's children rather than robbing their generation to secure the selfish wants of this generation.
Keep watching. We'll know the political class for what it is after absorbing today's news.
Will politicians embrace Plan A along with the dedication and self discipline it requires?
Or, will they do everything to avoid political pain at the expense of the next generation (i.e. as the federal government has done), perhaps by constructing a Plan C that is no more responsible than Plan B's strategy of hope?
Royal Dutch Shell will cease exploration in Arctic waters off Alaska's coast following disappointing results from an exploratory well backed by billions in investment and years of work
Shell has spent upward of $7 billion on Arctic offshore exploration, including $2.1 billion in 2008 for leases in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, where an exploratory well about 80 miles off shore drilled to 6,800 feet but yielded disappointing results.
"Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the U.S.," Marvin Odum, president of Shell USA, said in The Hague, Netherlands. "However, this is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin."
Shell will end exploration off Alaska "for the foreseeable future," the company said, because of the well results and because of the "challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska. (Our emphasis added. -dh)
The Burger J well drilled this summer will be plugged and abandoned, Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino said.
Other references will be added here:
- Wall Street Journal
- Greenpeace's "Great News"
- Alaska Oil & Gas Association
- Consumer Energy Alliance
Alaska's LNG Prospects
Today, our Aussie oil and gas analyst friend wrote:
Further to the news story on Friday about the sovereign risks facing LNG projects even in the USA, such as Alaska LNG (AKLNG) - Alaska's populist Governor has subsequently formally introduced a concept that no doubt will look attractive to his peers in Mozambique, Tanzania, etc - a "gas reserves tax".
The intent of this concept is to tax resources in the ground, thereby presumably encouraging oil companies to develop assets.
The concept shows a fundamental lack of understanding as to what are "reserves" - which seems surprising for a State which is built on the oil industry.
Although Alaska's North Slope contains very substantial and well understood contingent resources of gas - it contains no gas reserves and will not do so until AKLNG reaches FID (i.e. reserves require commerciality).
By seeking to tax in-ground resources, Alaska's Governor reduces the chances of such resources actually becoming (commercially available) reserves.
Free subscription to Aussie Oil & Gas Observer
September 25, 2015
Regular readers will know that this blog considers the Alaska LNG (AKLNG) project to be the Aesopian tortoise of the LNG project world – not as flashy as some, but plodding towards first gas next decade.
However, that tortoise carries a heavy shell that would be familiar to LNG project proponents in most locations around the world – a Government that wants to maximize its share of something that does not as yet exist – and therefore risks getting a larger share in nothing rather than a reasonable share in something.
Australian readers of this blog will likely be familiar with only one Alaskan Governor – the surprisingly socialist (when it comes to taxing oil companies) Sarah Palin. Her populist instincts live on in the State and even the Russian news service Interfax today points out that AKLNG risks being bogged down by politics
Alaskan based website Northern Gas Pipelines today provides an update on the latest Government meddling in AKLNG and asks the reasonable question – “with so many government cooks in the LNG kitchen, really, what could possibly go wrong?”
SitNews, Ketchikan, Alaska, by Mary Kauffman
Alaska Governor Bill Walker issued a proclamation Thursday calling the Alaska Legislature into a special session next month to consider legislation to move a project forward to get the natural gas on the North Slope to market. Efforts to to commercialize North Slope gas dates back to the 1970s.
Addressing what the Governor describes as the urgency of North Slope gas production, Walker called the special session to be held in Juneau on October 24th.
“With a $3.5 billion budget deficit, this gasline project has gone from a wish-list item to a must-have,” said Governor Walker. “Under the negotiation process I inherited, very little has been accomplished on the commercial agreements. It is time to make the necessary legislative changes so a single party cannot delay the production of Alaska’s natural gas resources and sway our destiny.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski's reaction to Shell's announcement
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement regarding Shell’s decision to suspend operations in Alaska’s offshore waters:
“I am extremely disappointed by this decision, just as I have been deeply frustrated by the years-long path that led to it.
“In the more than seven years that Shell has held leases in the Chukchi, it has only recently been allowed to complete a single well. What we have here is a case in which a company’s commercial efforts could not overcome a burdensome and often contradictory regulatory environment. The Interior Department has made no effort to extend lease terms, as recommended by the National Petroleum Council. Instead, Interior placed significant limits on this season’s activities, which resulted in a drilling rig sitting idle, and is widely expected to issue additional regulations in the coming weeks that will make it even harder to drill. Add this all up, and it is clear that the federal regulatory environment – uncertain, everchanging, and continuing to deteriorate – was a significant factor in Shell’s decision.
“What we need – but still do not have – is a predictable and sensible regulatory system both onshore and offshore that encourages companies to make major investments in our future. Continued uncertainty will only further damage our competitiveness and our economy. And so today, I call on the administration to work with Alaskans – to develop a legitimate plan, driven by our input and preferences, to ensure the prolific resources in our federal areas are produced.
“There are many steps that can be taken, if the Interior Department and others commit to working with us. We must enable the sanctioning of GMT-1 and further development in NPR-A, rapidly progress Liberty and open new areas in the nearshore Beaufort Sea, extend offshore lease terms, conduct Lease Sale 237 as scheduled, finalize a strong Five-Year Plan for 2017-2022, provide for offshore revenue sharing, and expedite leasing throughout the state – including the non-wilderness portion of ANWR.
“There is also more at stake here than the current status of one company’s exploration program. Development in the Arctic is going to happen – if not here, then in Russia and Canada, and by non-Arctic nations. I personally believe that America should lead the way. The Arctic is crucial to our entire nation’s future, and we can no longer rely solely on private companies to bring investments in science and infrastructure to the region. As the Arctic continues to open, we urgently need to accelerate our national security investments in icebreakers, ports, and other necessities.” (See the source here.)
TODAY'S RELEVANT CONSUMER ENERGY ALLIANCE ENERGY CLIPS:
Southeast Green: PACE Says EPA's Clean Power Plan Would Raise Consumer Costs, Yet Fail to Lower Earth's Temperature
The Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) issued a statement today that criticized the Environmental Protection Agency's unprecedented mandate on carbon dioxide emissions under its Clean Air Plan, especially the change to demand more reductions by 2030.
DC City Biz List: Offshore Drilling Could Boost The Economy Or Be An Unnecessary Risk
Drilling for oil the coast of Virginia is either a chance to boost the economy or an unnecessary risk for beachfront communities and the environment. Voices on both sides of the argument were in Richmond on Thursday for a forum hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance.
Consumer Energy Alliance: CEA Leads Discussion on the Need for Responsible Atlantic Offshore Energy Development
Consumer Energy Alliance today hosted the 2015 Atlantic Energy Forum in Richmond, Virginia, featuring Abigail Ross Hopper, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other distinguished panelists.
New York Times: Shell Abandons Disappointing Offshore Alaskan Well
Royal Dutch Shell said Monday that it would stop exploration off the coast of Alaska “for the foreseeable future.” The decision came after the Burger J well, which the company drilled this summer, produced disappointing results. The company said the well had “found indications of oil and gas, but these are not sufficient to warrant further exploration” of the Burger prospect, a geological structure.
The Hill: Senate Dems tell Obama to end Arctic drilling
Some Senate Democrats are once again asking President Obama to end oil and natural gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean. In a letter Friday, 12 senators asked Obama to block any additional drilling after Royal Dutch Shell wraps up its exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, this fall.
The Hill: Clinton explains shift on Keystone, other key issues
Hillary Clinton on Sunday pointed to the nation’s shifting energy profile for her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline after she had initially seemed to voice support for its construction. In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd asked Clinton if her position on Keystone had changed as a matter of political expediency.
Post and Courier: Hillary’s slick move on XL pipeline
Hillary Clinton continued her unimpeded march toward the Democratic presidential nomination for 2016 by announcing her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. In doing so, she checked another box on her campaign strategy list, reassuring some core Democratic voters and probably ensuring some large campaign contributions.
The Hill: Energy empowers the world’s poor
The White House, the United Nations, even the Vatican are in full court press for action to reduce manmade global warming at the climate summit in December. Many well-intentioned people believe manmade global warming is so dangerous we should spend trillions trying to prevent it by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which would require tremendous reductions in fossil fuel use.
Fortune: Why America’s power grid needs natural gas now more than ever
Now that the Obama administration has finalized its Clean Power Plan regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the power sector, the focus of attention turns to the states, which must now find a way to reduce emissions consistent with the Plan. One question states face as they envision a lower carbon future is how much to rely on natural gas-fired generation.
Washington Examiner: House sets vote to lift oil export ban
The House is set to consider a bill on the floor this week to lift a 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil from the United States. The bill is being supported by the House leadership as integral to the Republican energy agenda this Congress, and many high-level lawmakers have vowed to see it passed before the end of the year.
Bloomberg: Oil Traders May Look to the Sea for Profit Amid Price Collapse
The global oil glut may soon expand to the ocean. While traders are already cashing in on the surplus by housing oil in onshore tanks across the globe -- including on the tiny Caribbean island of St. Lucia-- expanding the storage to tankers at sea may near a point where it becomes profitable, according to Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and IHS Maritime & Trade.
Associated Press: Alaska’s Walker brushes aside reserves tax criticism
Gov. Bill Walker on Friday brushed aside criticism from Republican lawmakers that they were blindsided by his call to reinstate the gas reserves tax during the upcoming special session. “I sat right at this table and talked about fiscal certainty and project certainty,” Walker said during a news conference at his Anchorage office. He met with lawmakersMonday to inform them of his call for the special session, which starts Oct. 24 in Juneau.
Alaska Highway News: Despite fracking fights, resource extraction key for Peace Region, says NDP candidate
When Kathi Dickie was considering whether to run for parliament as a New Democrat in Northeast B.C., one question was on the top of her mind. "My question to the NDP was if you're against development of our natural resources, then I'm not your candidate," Dickie told the party brass.
Beaumont Enterprise: Keystone XL Pipeline needs market decision
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out against the Keystone XL Pipeline last week, a decision that will have an impact on the 2016 race. And Southeast Texas, because the Valero refinery in Port Arthur would process 150,000 barrels a day of tar sands crude from Canada - if it ever gets here.
Midland Reporter-Telegram: Government agency plans intensive safety study - Two-year project targets all aspects of oil and gas industry
High salaries and soaring numbers of new jobs were not the only things attracting attention as the oil and gas industry boomed in recent years. Industry fatality, injury and exposure rates drew focus, especially from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fuel Fix: California regulators restore emissions-cutting fuel rule
California regulators on Friday restored ambitious rules to cut transportation fuel emissions 10 percent within 5 years. The rules further strengthen California’s toughest-in-the-nation carbon emissions standards, but oil producers warn the changes could drive up costs for consumers at the gas pump.
Denver Post: Colorado oil companies say they are safer, stats say otherwise
The country's oil and gas companies say they are cooperating more and working harder to make jobs safer for employees even as a new report suggests oil-field work has never been more dangerous. The industry touts the rise of training networks, partnerships with governments and tough certification standards as helping to improve the work environment in one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.
Fuel Fix: Pro-industry group throws support behind drilling on Texas university land
A pro-industry group is firing back at calls by environmental advocates to restrict drilling on university land in Texas, arguing that oil and gas revenue has provided massive financial support for the University of Texas and Texas A&M.
Houston Chronicle: Community colleges offer training for petrochem jobs
Petrochemical plants along the Texas Gulf Coast and the Port of Houston are spending billions of dollars to expand facilities. It is estimated that these projects, along with the retirement of existing workers, will provide jobs for more than 50,000 skilled workers.
Austin American-Statesman: Houser: Concerns about fracking on UT land overstated
University Lands, which comprises about 2.1 million acres of land in West Texas, is a resource unlike any other in the nation. The lands were set aside in 1839 specifically to benefit Texas higher education. Today, more than 20 academic and health institutions in the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems benefit from these assets.
Baton Rouge Advocate: Our Views: New roles for natural gas, including on the road, will help Louisiana’s growing natural gas industry
The price of oil is sharply down from last year, but if there’s one thing Louisiana has still got, it’s lots of natural gas at a historically low price level. That is of course good news for the metropolitan areas of the state, including big refineries in Baton Rouge and Lake Charles and in the River Parishes above New Orleans.
Columbus Dispatch: Oil, gas industry boosts local economy
There is no question, these are tough times for Ohio’s oil and gas industry. Prices for crude oil and natural gas are at their lowest levels in decades. The downturn in prices and drilling activity has caused many people to ask questions: Is Ohio’s oil and gas industry still a major contributor to our local economy? How important is this industry to the average Ohioan? The answers are yes, and, in fact, more important now than ever.
Washington Times: GOP will allow tax vote, if Democrats secure enough support
Leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature’s Republican majorities will allow a floor vote on a budget package that includes an income or sales tax increase if Democrats can secure enough support to pass it, officials said Friday.
Tribune-Review: 2 Marcellus pipeline projects move forward
Two large pipeline projects aimed at easing a glut of natural gas from the Marcellus shale advanced in the federal permitting process this week. Houston-based Columbia Pipeline Group said its proposal to build the $2 billion, 165-mile Mountaineer Xpress in West Virginia entered a pre-filing phase before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
WKBN: Judge tosses Pa. landowners’ lawsuit against fracking opponents
A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that landowners filed against people and groups who oppose fracking in a western Pennsylvania township. Natural gas drilling has been delayed in Middlesex, Butler County while some of the rural community’s 800 residents challenge a zoning ordinance that would allow drilling in 90 percent of the rural township.
Myrtle Beach Sun News: Offshore Wind a Viable Source for Future Electrical Energy
It’s evident, or should be, that electrical energy in the future will come from sources other than fossil fuels such as coal, oil or even natural gas. Offshore winds are one of the most viable alternate energy sources and coastal South Carolina residents should applaud ongoing efforts to produce power from the wind.
7-30-15 Murkowski's Senate Energy Committee Votes to Lift Crude Export Ban and Allow State OCS Revenue Sharing
TONIGHT: YOU READ IT HERE FIRST!
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed major bills Thursday on lifting the crude oil export ban and its broad energy package.
The oil export bill would also increase offshore drilling and provide revenue sharing for neighboring states. It passed 12-10, along party lines.
"It's the result of collaborative efforts by members of this committee to boost offshore development, allow revenue sharing for coastal producing states and lift the outdated ban on crude exports," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the panel, said of the export and offshore drilling measure.