By: Scott Goldsmith, NGP Photo
Point of personal privilege: We pause to remember our late friend, Frank Gifford, also a friend of Alaska. (Photo with Kathy Lee Gifford, by Bruce Glikas / FilmMagic). See "Today News".
Rick Mystrom and Rick Nerland had kindly asked me to join the non profit board of our Anchorage Organizing Committee (AOC) for the Winter Olympics in the late 1980s. In my volunteer role, I served a 'Television Commissioner', charged with developing relationships with and support from American television and radio networks who could someday compete for Anchorage Olympic broadcast rights. Money obtained from such licenses are designed to largely pay the lion's share of infrastructure and operating costs for the host cities.
Assuming we would maintain the coveted title of "America's Favorite" from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and then go on to win the International Olympic Committee (IOC) bid we could have hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics (subsequently held in Albertville, France), or the 1994 Winter Olympics (hosted by Anchorage's rival, Lillehammer, Norway). But those stories will have to be told another day.
As we competed for the 1994 games, I was honored -- on behalf of the AOC -- to participate in Olympic meetings in Lausanne, Salt Lake City, Calgary, New York and Washington D.C., getting to know network executives. Other members of our board spread out to cover other meetings throughout the world, interfacing with other Olympic constituencies, particularly the voting IOC members themselves. Our objective: increase support for IOC election of Anchorage as a host city.
As the competition increased, AOC's board asked me to organize a fundraising event in New York City with the dual purpose of bringing home to Anchorage badly needed operating money for AOC but, just as important, establishing credibility on the national and international stage.
Petroleum News by Eric Lidji. A small bump in oil prices early in the year helped ConocoPhillips earn $195 million from its Alaska operations during the second quarter - up from the first quarter of the year but down considerably from a year ago, when oil prices topped $100 per barrel.
Petroleum News. Oil Patch Bits: Bell acquires operations manager - 06/14/2015 (Login to read Full story) F. Robert Bell and Associates announced that Frank Thomas “FT” Bell has returned to the firm and will fill the new position of operations manager to further develop company goals. He will help Bell and Associates run more efficiently and grow as much as possible. In addition, he hopes Bell and Assoc....
Alaska LNG Reviews Pipeline Route With Government Agencies, by Larry Persily (NGP Photo) on behalf of the Kenai Peninsula Borough
Today: funeral services for our longtime friend, energy advocate and "Alaska's Diplomat", Chuck Becker (NGP Photo).
Tomorrow: the big LNG meeting in Anchorage, open to media and the public.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will hold its 2015 EIA Energy Conference on June 15 and 16 at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Washington, DC. The EIA Energy Conference has become a premier forum for addressing energy issues in the United States and worldwide. This event provides a unique opportunity to meet and network with fellow energy experts and decision makers.
Last year more than 900 thought leaders from industry, government, and academia attended the 2014 EIA Energy Conference. Participants discussed current and future challenges facing domestic and international energy markets and policymakers.
In the coming months, EIA will post additional information regarding the 2015 EIA Energy Conference, including confirmed keynote speakers, topic session participants, and a complete conference schedule. To be added to the mailing list to receive conference updates and additional information, email EIA at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow EIA on Facebook and Twitter.
Keynote speakers include:
U.S. Secretary of Energy
Secretary of Energy
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
BNSF Railway Company
Co-Founder & CTO
United States Senator
Session topics include:
- Effects of changing world oil prices: production, economy, and geopolitics
- North American energy markets
- The role of emerging energy storage technologies in electricity markets
- Natural gas: domestic and global markets
- Greenhouse gas emissions: power and methane
- Developments in hydrocarbon gas liquids markets
- Electric distribution markets in the 21st century
- Energy by rail and water
- Energy infrastructure needs and options
- Residential and commercial energy consumption
Mackenzie Gas Project still breathing - 05/24/2015 In danger of becoming the answer to a trivia question, Canada's Mackenzie Gas Project is not yet ready to fade into history. Since gaining Canadian government approval four years ago, along with obtaining a National Energy Board Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, the Arctic gas venture has re....
May 26, 2015
(This update, provided by the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor’s office, is part of an ongoing effort to help keep the public informed about the Alaska LNG project.)
Alaska is vast, with a lot of open ground, but it seems like transportation projects in the state — be it roads, railroads or pipelines — can’t help but cross over or under each other while traversing the same natural corridors.
Preliminary plans for the proposed 800-mile North Slope natural gas pipeline south to Cook Inlet show it would cross the trans-Alaska oil pipeline 12 times, the Dalton Highway 22 times, the Parks Highway 12 times, Alaska Railroad tracks four times, and the Elliott and Kenai Spur highways one time each.
And don’t forget the natural transportation routes. The line would cross the Nenana River in four locations. Just once for the Yukon River. All told, the mid-May 2015 version of the proposed pipeline route includes 446 waterbody crossings. Some are rivers, some creeks, some smaller than that. Some are much larger, such as almost 30 miles across Cook Inlet.
More than two dozen Alaska LNG team members and contractors met with 60 federal, state and municipal agency personnel May 12 in Anchorage to discuss the project’s latest revisions to the proposed natural gas pipeline route from the North Slope to Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula.
PROJECT TEAMS ADJUST PIPELINE ROUTE
The project teams reported they have made multiple adjustments to the pipeline route since filing the first draft route with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February 2015. It’s all about finding the best path for the pipeline to move North Slope gas 800 miles across the state to reach the liquefaction plant in Nikiski. The project is in undergoing engineering and design, working toward a late-summer 2016 FERC application. The federal agency regulates LNG plant construction and operations, and will prepare the project’s environmental impact statement.
While seeking feedback from government regulatory agencies at the all-day session May 12, the Alaska LNG team listed the optimal engineering criteria for pipeline route selection: stable ground, good drainage, and flat or gentle slopes. “We try to stay on the high ground every place we can,” a team leader said. All the while, the team is aiming for the shortest distance between two points while avoiding — as much as possible — fault lines, wetlands, frost-heave soils, power lines, fiber optic cables, visual impacts, cultural sites and private land.
The pipeline execution team reported they would like to keep the 42-inch-diameter, high-pressure gas line at least 200 feet away from the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, particularly to allow gas line construction equipment to maneuver a safe distance from the aboveground oil line. But some pinch points will require closer spacing.
“In many cases, the oil line (built in the mid-1970s) picked the best spot, and we have to pick the next best spot,” a team member said. The challenge is to find the preferred route within the constraints of geology, terrain and environmental considerations.
Several stretches along the route are still under review, with project teams working to find the best way to manage geological, environmental and historic preservation issues.
FINDING THE BEST CROSSING POINT
One example is the effort to find the best place to cross from the west to the east side of the Nenana River in the area where the Parks Highway, Alaska Railroad and a steep canyon all come together, about 120 highway miles south of Fairbanks near the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve. This is near where the Moody Bridge crosses 174 feet above the canyon floor. No surprise, the span also is known as “Windy Bridge.” The Alaska LNG team would prefer to stay away from steep, failing slopes, keep outside of the national park, and run the line east of the tourist commercial area known as “Glitter Gulch.”
“We’ve got some additional work to do … the answer is still in front of us,” a team member said at the routing workshop. While at the same time working to minimize impacts on highway traffic during construction, especially during the busy summer season, and preserving the scenic views along the highway and at viewpoints that are so important to visitors — and Alaskans.
The Alaska LNG pipeline execution team is working with their counterparts at the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. during the route selection, sharing information in an effort to avoid duplication of efforts as the two projects look for the best way past problem areas. The state corporation is designing a smaller-volume pipeline project as a backup for Alaskans to consider if the producer-led Alaska LNG project does not move forward.
Alaska LNG teams include staff assigned by all four commercial partners in the effort: North Slope oil and gas producers ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips, and pipeline partner TransCanada. The state of Alaska would also be an investor in Alaska LNG.
Another area still under review by the pipeline team is Atigun Pass, the highest point on the route at 4,739 feet above sea level in the Brooks Range. The pass is about 175 miles south of the start of the pipeline at the gas treatment plant proposed for Prudhoe Bay. The intent is to thread the gas line over the pass, while keeping a safe distance from the Dalton Highway, the oil line and steep slopes.
ABOVE GROUND vs. BELOW GROUND
Crossing the Yukon River, about 180 miles south of Atigun Pass, also needs more ground sleuthing, the team reported, particularly geophysical and geotechnical studies to learn every possible detail of ground and subsurface conditions. As of mid-May, the team was assessing the option of directional drilling and pulling the pipe underneath the river, at a point west of the existing oil pipeline bridge and downstream from deep shoreside bluffs. But that could change as the team learns more, and a bridge crossing is an option.
Horizontal drilling and pulling pipe also would be used to run the line beneath highway and river crossings along the route, along with possible open cuts and burying the pipe.
Although most of the gas line would be buried, several sections of the route would need to be above ground, much like the oil line. Such construction, with the pipeline supported on horizontal steel beams between two vertical columns, would allow the line to span fault lines, staying out of harm’s way.
The most serious earthquake risk is the Denali Fault, which crosses the Parks Highway near Cantwell, just 35 miles south of where the gas line crosses the Nenana River near Denali National Park. A 7.9-magnitude earthquake in 2002 tested the oil pipeline, which crosses the fault about 130 miles to the east of the gas line route. The oil pipe survived the quake, thanks to its elevated support structure.
Other aboveground stretches for the gas pipeline would include the 60-some miles between the Point Thomson gas field and the gas treatment plant at Prudhoe Bay, where gas from both fields would be cleaned of carbon dioxide and other impurities. The first draft routing submitted to FERC in February indicated the line would be buried in this area, but the team reported at the May 12 workshop that it had decided aboveground construction is a better option to avoid drainage problems of surface and subsurface water flowing north to the Beaufort Sea.
Along with Atigun Pass, the Yukon River and Glitter Gulch, another area still under review by the pipeline team is the Deshka River crossing, about 65 miles north of where the line would enter Cook Inlet for its final stretch to Nikiski.
Field crews have found multiple cultural sites along the river, with its rich history of subsistence fishing. Historic-use sites along the Deshka are so plentiful the area looks like it “could have been a subdivision,” a pipeline team member said. Alaska LNG is working with its cultural team and the State Historic Preservation Office to find the best river-crossing location.
COOK INLET CROSSING
Another routing question raised in Alaska LNG’s February filing with FERC is where the pipeline should cross Cook Inlet to reach Nikiski. For now, the project is focusing on what it calls the western route, running the pipeline on the west side of Cook Inlet until Milepost 764 from Prudhoe Bay, then going underwater for almost 29 miles, coming up on the east side of the inlet just 7 miles or so to the liquefaction plant site in Nikiski’s industrial area.
On its west side approach, the line would stay away from the Beluga power plant, ENSTAR natural gas line, and drilling pads and access roads. A barge landing would be built on the west side to bring in equipment and supplies, just as a barge landing would be built on the east side for the same purpose — including delivery of the huge modules that would become the liquefaction plant.
On the west side, the team is looking at a couple of sites about a mile apart for the pipeline to enter the water, considering shoreline terrain and how far the buried pipe would have to run before reaching water deep enough (30-foot depth) for pipe-laying barge access.
For landfall on the east side of Cook Inlet, the line would likely come up at a location called Boulder Point, though the team is also looking at another spot just a couple of miles farther up the Kenai Peninsula coast (near Seneva Lake) with lower bluffs at tidewater. Just as with the west side location, the shortest distance to deep water is a consideration.
An alternate path across Cook Inlet, called the eastern route, is not now under active review, team members said at the May 12 meeting. That route would have the pipeline veer east after the Deshka River, cross the Susitna River and come to Port MacKenzie across the inlet from Anchorage. From there, the line would run through Upper Cook Inlet to the Kenai Peninsula, several miles northeast of the preferred crossing route.
Onshore problems with the eastern route, team members told regulatory agencies, include crossing through an old artillery range with unexploded ordinance and proximity to power lines and tower guy wires. Offshore, the concerns are numerous: submarine cables in the pipeline’s path; sharp turns in the route needed to avoid the dredged channel for Anchorage port traffic; critical feeding habitat of endangered beluga whales; and scouring along the seabed that could undermine the pipeline.
In gathering data for the Cook Inlet crossing, the project teams have learned a lot about the currents and siltation, and will be surveying for obstacles and mapping the seabed this summer as route-selection work continues.
The teams reported May 12 that currents along the preferred crossing route run 6 knots at the surface and 4 knots on the bottom. Water depth along the route would be 140 feet at the deepest point; generally about half that for most of the route.
To cross Cook Inlet, the pipeline would be lowered from barges to the sea floor. Each heavily concrete-coated section of 40-foot-long, 42-inch-diameter pipeline would weigh 33 tons — the pipeline’s weight would keep it in place on the bottom.
SUMMER 2015 FIELD WORK
Alaska LNG contractors have a busy 2015 summer field season planned of soils testing, borehole drilling, stream surveys, wetlands mapping, geophysical work, cultural resource surveys and other data gathering as the project works toward submitting its next round of draft environmental reports to FERC in the first quarter of 2016.
The summer work will include “ground truthing” data obtained by LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which maps out surface data and details with an airborne laser. Teams will walk the ground to verify LiDAR data at more than 100 sites along the pipeline route, particularly looking at slope stability and geophysical hazards.
Additional Alaska LNG workshops for government agencies are planned for June, August and September to cover in more detail route selections and construction methods for waterbody crossings, wetlands and Cook Inlet, along with the dredging that would be required to bring in construction barges.
Point of Personal Privilege: Scroll Down For An Update On, "Alaska's Diplomat", Our Friend, Chuck Becker
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo), Friday issued the following statement in response to a letter that 18 Senate Democrats sent to Interior Secretary Jewell, calling on the Obama administration to stop energy production in the Arctic. This comes after the administration approved plans for Shell to drill in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea this summer.
“Today’s attempt to block energy production in Alaska ignores the facts. For more than 30 years, Alaska has demonstrated its safe record of responsible oil and natural gas development in the Arctic. Even the Obama administration agrees this project can move along safely,” Murkowski said. “Right now, the United States can either choose to responsibly develop its resources under its superior standards or let countries like Russia lead the way. We can either choose to produce our own resources or return to the costly days of buying them from abroad. When it comes to realizing the benefits of energy production, I’ll always put Alaska and our nation first.”
The Democrats’ letter opposes increased energy production in the Arctic and is in contrast to the Obama administration, which approved Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic this summer. This week, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Ross Hopper told Platts that new Arctic energy development could be carried out safely.
Hopper echoed President Obama’s recent comments that Alaska energy production is good for our nation. He said, “I would rather us – with all the safeguards and standards that we have – be producing our oil and gas, rather than importing it, which is bad for our people, but is also potentially purchased from places that have much lower environmental standards than we do.”
Alaska has a long history of safe and responsible oil and natural gas production in the Arctic. Some 35 wells have been drilled in Alaska’s Arctic waters since the 1980s. The Northstar field in the Beaufort Sea has produced 150 million barrels of oil since 2001.
Studies show that increased leasing and development in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas and in Cook Inlet could, by 2035, create nearly 840,000 jobs and raise more than $200 billion in revenue for the government.
Here is more information about this week's Celebration of Chuck's life, included in an obituary prepared by Chuck's loving wife, Micky and family.
We also include for Chuck's many friends among our readers, a video that the family has distributed.
On this memorial day, we shall long remember those who have fallen in defense of our Nation and Chuck, who served the nation with distinction in so many ways.
Point of personal privilege: Our great friend, Chuck Becker, passed away this morning (Photos). Today, family and countless friends are mourning his passing. We will attempt to provide more official information as the family makes it available.
Chuck and I met in the mid-1970s in Washington D.C. Another dear friend, the late Anchorage Mayor George Sullivan was his client and I was representing the first North Slope gas project, the Arctic Gas Consortium, with Washington and Anchorage offices.
After Chuck had moved to Anchorage and completed his economic development assignment with the Sullivan administration, and I had joined Atlantic Richfield Company, he and I worked on some communication projects. He soon became a respected communications consultant to some of the most important businesses in the 49th state.
Chuck was deeply involved in support of reasonable development of Alaska's resources through leadership positions with the Alaska Support Industry Alliance and after years of service was named "Director Emeritus".
A veteran of the United States Department of Commerce, he served as the long-time director of the Alaska Export Assistance Center, revered for his accomplishments by the Alaska World Affairs Council which he also served as a director and past president.
Indeed, I have always considered Chuck to be deserving of the title, "Alaska's Diplomat"; for his every mission at home or abroad uniquely reflected great credit upon the United States, Alaska, his personal integrity and his own considerable abilities.
I believe the world, the country and the State of Alaska are better for having hosted the life of this dedicated man.
I believe that Chuck's friends and family will remember him as much for his patient, gentle and principled nature as for his professional accomplishments.
One of our commentaries last week was edited and reprinted by the national, Master Resource Blog, and concluded with a number of interesting reader comments. (It was followed by a more heavily researched piece dealing with the environmental strategy to defeat capitalism.)
From Master Resource, it was adopted into an Austrian Economics Addict editorial: "In this article by Dave Harbour titled, Seattle Hearing On Shell’s Arctic Rig Docking: A Clash Of Visions, he talks about the differences between the two sides in this battle. Here are some excerpts from the article.
“If our civilization is to continue, our well-grounded public and private leaders need to wake up and undertake communication programs designed to better articulate...."
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Would we like to see your reaction? Yes we would, and we will reprint or link selected submissions.
Readers wishing for a more in-depth look at the role of environmental armies in securing their avowed goal of 'the destruction of capitalism' may be interested in our less politically correct editorial last week, "Useful Idiots".
Calgary Herald Editorial: Everyone seems to agree that more pipelines are needed to carry Alberta bitumen to new markets, so let’s hope premier-designate Rachel Notley puts a lid on any further talk that could endanger approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project.
Today's Energy Links by Larry Persily:
B.C. agrees to fiscal terms with Petronas for LNG project
(Wall Street Journal; May 20) - The province of British Columbia and Malaysia’s state-owned energy company Petronas on May 20 said they had agreed on fiscal terms to promote construction of a liquefied natural gas export terminal near Prince Rupert.
First Nation opposition presents legal question for LNG project
(Business in Vancouver; May 19) – The decision by the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation in British Columbia not to accept an offer from Pacific NorthWest LNG raises a number of questions, such as whether Petronas, which has yet to make an investment decision, might cut its losses if First Nations mount an all-out battle.
Companies deny Wood Mackenzie report of delays for Australia LNG
(Bloomberg; May 19) - Chevron and Japan’s Inpex Corp. face potential delays in starting liquefied natural gas projects in Australia, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. Chevron’s Wheatstone and Inpex’s Ichthys ventures could start output in mid-2017, later than the companies forecast, Angus Rodger, Asia-Pacific analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said in an interview....
U.S. exports could help push LNG market toward more spot sales
(Bloomberg; May 19) - The U.S. is about to change the global LNG market. When the first tanker carrying liquefied natural gas leaves Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana in December, it will turn traditional consumers into new traders with more bargaining power.
Cheniere says it is talking with LNG buyers in China
(Reuters; May 19) - Chinese buyers are eyeing long-term supplies of liquefied natural gas from Cheniere Energy’s U.S. export operations....
Tokyo Gas looks to invest in more U.S. production as price hedge
(Reuters; May 18) - Tokyo Gas, Japan's biggest gas utility, is looking to invest in more U.S. shale gas production ....
GAIL signs preliminary deal to sell some of its U.S. LNG to Shell
(Reuters; May 20) – GAIL, India's largest state-owned natural gas distributor, has signed a preliminary deal to sell some of its contracted volumes of liquefied natural gas to Shell....
Proposed Nova Scotia LNG project gains provincial permit
(The Chronicle Herald; Halifax, Nova Scotia; May 19) - After an environmental assessment, Nova Scotia’s provincial environment minister has granted Bear Head LNG approval to build an 8-million-tons-per-year liquefied natural gas plant.
Australia’s LNG industry has its share of worries, survey says
(Sydney Morning Herald; May 18) - A lack of competitiveness, unwieldy regulations and inflexible industrial relations threaten to derail a bonanza from the liquefied natural gas sector in Australia as it transitions from a $250 billion investment phase into production.
BHP says Australia LNG project ‘falls lower’ on its list of priorities
(Bloomberg; May 17) - BHP Billiton is lowering the priority of its proposed $10 billion Scarborough liquefied natural gas project with partner ExxonMobil in Australia amid a fall in prices and ....
Natural gas industry faces increasing opposition to pipelines
(USA Today; May 17) - The U.S. is producing record amounts of natural gas.... But building the infrastructure necessary to bring that fuel to market is increasingly difficult.
North Dakota farmers, ranchers frustrated over salty wastewater spills
(Wall Street Journal; May 16) - For most of the years since wildcatters began tapping the North Dakota prairies for oil, energy companies have existed peacefully with the farmers and ranchers ....
State legislatures act to protect drilling from local restrictions
(Wall Street Journal; May 19) – A Texas city last year banned fracking; state lawmakers want to make sure that never happens ....
Yukon Territory gold mine would consider using LNG for power
(CBC News; May 16) - Kaminak Gold Corp. is aiming to finish a feasibility study for its Coffee Gold project near Dawson City....
Yukon First Nation will invest in LNG-fueled power plant
(Yukon News; Whitehorse, Yukon Territory; May 15) - The decision to invest in Yukon Energy’s liquefied natural gas-fueled power plant in Whitehorse, the Canadian territory’s capital city, is supported by the Kwanlin Dun First Nation community, according to ... Chief Doris Bill....
Oil exports to Canada help ease pressure on U.S. storage capacity
(Wall Street Journal; May 19) – Crude oil exports to Canada provided a crucial relief valve for U.S. producers this year, according to a new report from ...
Gone fishing today..., with your approval! :-)