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Arctic Energy Center Weekly Roundup 10/28/16-11/4/16


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This Week on AEC

In the News

State lease sale announced on heels of 2 large oil discovery announcements.
Alaska Dispatch News. Following announcements of two large oil discoveries in Alaska in the last 12 months, the state is conducting an annual lease sale in the Beaufort Sea and North Slope that could provide clues about how the industry views oil opportunities in the state. The sale comes amid growing interest over a different lease sale proposed for federal waters of the U.S. Arctic Ocean, with pro-development forces concerned the federal government will not allow sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in its 2017-22 program. The issue has drawn strong opposition from conservation groups who want the oil to stay beneath the seabed.  But two pro-development groups — Arctic Inupiat Offshore and the Arctic Energy Center — launched a two-week television ad campaign on Tuesday calling for offshore development. The cost of the campaign is in the "high six figures" and the groups are targeting Washington, D.C., and nearby areas, said Lucas Frances, spokesman for the Arctic Energy Center, created in 2015 by the Independent Petroleum Association of America and AOGA. Arctic Inupiat Offshore, created in 2014, consists of the Arctic Slope Regional Corp., the regional Native corporation for the North Slope, as well as six Native village corporations from the region. "Tell Washington to support Native Alaskans. Include the Arctic in the next offshore leasing program," says the 30-second spot, featuring officials with village corporations from Wainwright and Barrow.
 
High stakes for the Arctic await Trump or Clinton. E&E Climate Wire. In recent years, the United States has taken a more active role in the Arctic as chair of the Arctic Council, the intergovernmental forum tasked with addressing environmental protection and sustainable development that also includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Experts say that has resulted in new attention to the need to fund and build icebreakers, the ships that allow marine travel in the region. It also has shone a spotlight on openness from some administration officials to consider Arctic oil and gas drilling, especially as Russia and China form an alliance to do so. If the next president does not consider drilling, other nations already more established there will take advantage, said Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, executive director of the American Security Project, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on national security. All of those competing interests present an important dilemma for the next president, because a steady response is needed, or the Arctic threatens to become even more imperiled, said Sherri Goodman, former deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security and a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Russia is building bases in the region and already has dozens of icebreakers that will help it maneuver there.
 
Report: China's Arctic Activities Demand Closer US Attention. Voice of America. A report by the State Department's International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) expresses concern about the rapid expansion of China's activities in the Arctic. The board of national-security experts is now urging the U.S. government to pay more attention to the impact of China's Arctic activities on regional security. Overall, ISAB is calling for a continuing U.S. leadership role on Arctic issues, and highlighting concerns about "Russian interests, policies and activities" in the world's northernmost regions. But the board also has reviewed the activities of China and other countries not physically close to the Arctic but who have growing interests in its development. "China's ... quest for resources, particularly in Iceland and Greenland, are sources of concern to some," ISAB member Sherri Goodman, former deputy undersecretary of defense, told a symposium this week sponsored by the American Security Research Program and The Arctic Energy Center. The report notes China's cooperation with Russia in the development of natural-gas deposits in the Arctic Siberian Yamal Peninsula. Conversely, fellow ISAB member Robert Hunter, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, argues that Russia's interests in the Arctic are very different from those of China, and that it is unlikely Russia will join forces with China against the West.
 
Oil industry bracing for 11th-hour Obama regulations. Washington Examiner. The oil industry is getting ready for the Obama administration to issue a slew of final regulations soon after next week's election, according to the oil industry's lead lobbying group and consultants in Washington. There are a number of new regulations that the oil and natural gas industry is waiting for the administration to finalize one week before the presidential election, including regulations for methane emissions from drilling. Officials are also expected to release a key study on the safety of hydraulic fracturing, and the Interior Department will soon be releasing a landmark five-year energy plan to determine where it will allow offshore drilling to take place. Fossil fuel proponents, the chemical industry, manufacturers and others want the plan to keep things like drilling in the Arctic open in the final plan, which will determine offshore leasing by the government from 2017-22. An earlier draft of the plan kept Arctic drilling open, although the environmental community has put extreme pressure on President Obama to ban drilling there. As a result, industry fears he will reverse his decision in response to the outcry.
 
Administration Official Sees Alaska Offshore Drilling Ahead. EOS. Several speakers at a 25 October forum in Washington, D. C., on “Geopolitics, Security, and Energy in the Arctic” also said building more infrastructure, such as ports and icebreakers, in the region would help with oil and gas development and the overall economy. Creating such facilities would also bolster U.S. national security and strengthen the nation’s presence in the rapidly warming, relatively conflict free, and increasingly navigable Arctic Ocean, they said. The Arctic Energy Center (AEC) industry group and the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D. C., think tank, convened the forum at the Council’s offices. AEC officials and other sources indicated that the U.S. Department of the Interior could announce its final 2017–2022 outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program later this year. The program could include two lease sales in Arctic waters offshore Alaska, which some scientists and environmental groups have opposed. Amy Pope, vice chair of the White House Arctic Executive Steering Committee, said that responsible development of Arctic oil and gas resources aligns with the administration’s strategy of pursuing a wide range of domestic energy resources to strengthen U.S. energy security. “The region holds sizeable proved and potential oil and natural gas resources that will likely continue to provide valuable supplies to meet U.S. energy needs into the future,” Pope, who also serves on the White House National Security Council as deputy homeland security adviser and deputy assistant to the president, told the forum.
 
Native Americans Join Coalition Seeking Federal Leases for Oil and Gas Production at Alaska’s North Slope.  CNS News. The Arctic Energy Center announced last week that a coalition of Alaskans are petitioning the federal government to grant leases for oil and gas exploration and production in and offshore of the North Slope, including the Inupiat tribe. “Arctic Iñupiat Offshore (AIO) announced today that it is joining the Arctic Coalition, a collection of 21 Alaskan and nationwide organizations that support responsible energy development in and off the coast of Alaska,” the announcement stated. “The group is calling on the Obama administration to listen to the views and perspectives of Alaska residents and keep Alaska’s Arctic offshore acreage in the forthcoming federal energy leasing program. The AIO and the Arctic Energy Center, another coalition member, also announced an ad campaign “aimed at highlighting local North Slope communities’ perspectives on energy development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.” “We’ve got to be a part of everything that happens to safeguard our natural resources,” Joseph Ahmaogak, chairman of the Ukpeagvik Corporation and tribe member says in the television ad. “A safe and responsible development can happen up here on the North Slope.”
 
Keep Alaska, Gulf of Mexico sales in next 5-year OCS plan, groups say. Oil & Gas Journal. Oil and gas lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, the central and western Gulf of Mexico, and parts of the eastern gulf should remain in the 2017-22 US Outer Continental Shelf management plan, three national groups representing businesses, manufacturers, and energy consumers jointly said in a Nov. 3 letter to US President Barack Obama and Interior Sec. Sally Jewell. Spearheaded by the Consumer Energy Alliance in partnership with the National Association of Manufacturers and US Chamber of Commerce, the letter effort secured 107 signatories representing a wide range of businesses and industries including agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and construction. A decision on the 5-year plan is expected during November, they indicated. “The broad geographic and economic spectrum reflected in today’s letter underscores the critical importance of America’s offshore energy resources to a multitude of communities and businesses throughout the economy,” CEA Pres. David Holt said. “It is time we take accountability through responsible energy development that protects not only the environment but hard-working people in our communities.”

Weekly Voices
 
Responsible offshore resource development should be Obama’s environmental legacy. (Op-ed by Nils Andreassen – Executive Director, Institute of the North) The Hill. In fact, because of the benefits that Alaskans see from economic activity and state revenue from oil and gas development, over 82 percent of Alaska voters support continued offshore resource development. This public support includes residents of the region who rely on the industry for their livelihoods, giving them the ability to support their communities. e legacy that President Obama must leave is one that clearly defines the United States as competitive, competent and able to meet the challenges ahead. The Arctic is an emerging market to which other Arctic nations are turning their attention, and their extensive competitive advantages and capabilities. To this end the U.S. must compete with Norwegian, Icelandic, Finnish and Canadian companies for market share – in oil and gas development, in renewables, fisheries and maritime services, carbon intervention, tourism, and transportation. The U.S. has its moonshot, and the president an imperative, to get it right by being the best in the world at these things. The BOEM’s leasing programs is one way the U.S. can remain a leader in the Arctic.  The United States has an opportunity to lead the way in safe and secure energy development in the Arctic, to raise the standard of living in Alaska, and to ensure the U.S. remains globally competitive, while simultaneously meeting the energy security needs of the nation.  That’s an environmental – and social, cultural, security and economic - legacy President Obama should embrace.
 
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