Republican lawmakers are not happy about releases from the nation’s emergency oil reserve. They have introduced legislation to curtail future releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for any reason other than a severe energy supply interruption — at least until the Secretary of the Interior has issued a plan to increase oil and gas production on federal lands and waters.
The legislation was introduced by Republican Sens. John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso of Wyoming, ranking member of the committee. Republican Sens. Steve Daines, Montana, and Kevin Cramer, North Dakota, are listed as cosponsors on the bill.
“This administration put in place energy policies that have drastically restricted American energy production and caused prices to increase for consumers. Rather than tapping into our nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is intended for emergency purposes, the administration should boost production of American energy to help lower prices and ensure our energy independence,” Hoeven said. “North Dakota is an energy powerhouse with strong environmental stewardship, and this legislation is about empowering American energy production over depending on our adversaries and less stable parts of the world.”
Barasso, meanwhile, said America is safer when it is energy independent.
“President Biden’s decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not a solution for the skyrocketing energy prices that American families are facing.” Barrasso said. “Before tapping the Reserve for political reasons, our bill requires the administration to issue a plan to boost federal oil and natural gas production. The Strategic Production Response Act provides a real solution to the Biden administration’s reckless policies.”
The complete text of the bill is online at tinyurl.com/2p8384v3.
Where’s the real energy beef?
Republicans are pressing the Biden administration over an FTC investigation of the oil and gas industry, directed by President Joe Biden after he claimed there is “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oi land gas companies.”
Show us the evidence of that, Republican FTC Commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson told National Economic Council Director Brian Deese.
Meanwhile, in the House, Republican Reps. Kelly Armstrong, North Dakota, and Scott Fitzgerald, Wisconsin, led 18 of their Republican colleagues in a letter to Biden expressing their frustration with the FTC investigation.
“The cause for the dramatic gasoline price increase is largely due to your Administration’s energy policies that have stifled our domestic energy industry, not unsubstantiated allegations of anti-consumer behavior,” they wrote in their letter. “Your request for an FTC investigation into gasoline prices is nothing more than misdirection to avert the public’s attention from your Administration’s failed energy policies.”
That makes an antitrust investigation of the industry clearly inappropriate, the representatives said.
“If your true intention is to lower consumer costs for American households at the gas pump, we encourage you to pursue a more effective approach by reversing these policies and empowering our domestic oil and gas industry to restore the energy independence that we recently enjoyed,” the representatives wrote.
Polytechnic Education Center key to state’s workforce needs
The state will break ground on a polytechnic center whose mission will be to equip students with workplace-ready skills, credentials, and degrees based on career needs in the state.
“Education has to be more responsive to workforce needs and more responsive to the signals from the private sector,” Gov. Doug Burgum said during a press conference Wednesday. Dec. 1, at BSC’s National Energy Center of Excellence. “This is far more than just a new building. This is a new pathway for higher education in North Dakota.”
North Dakota lawmakers approved $38 million for the BSC Polytechnic Education Center. Burgum had proposed funding for the center in his Accelerate ND proposal announced in September.
North Dakota had nearly 18,400 open positions in October with Job Services, a 40.8 percent increase year over year. That’s only a fraction of the available jobs, however, as many companies don’t list positions with the state agency. The total number of job openings is estimated at more like 30,000, Burgum said.
Burgum has also recently signed legislation designating $88 million in matching funds for private-sector investment in career centers for high school students pursuing careers in trades, tech, and other sectors, as well as $15 million for adding or expanding local workforce development incentive grants and $5 million for technical skills training grants and a workforce innovation grant program.
Oasis appoints Woung-Chapman to board
Oasis Petroleum has added Marguerite Woung-Chapman to its Board of Directors, where she will serve on the Board’s Compensation Committee and its Nominating, Environmental, Social & Governance Committees.
That brings the number of directors to eight, seven of who are independent.
Woung-Chapman has 30 years of experience in the energy industry and is presently serving as a Director of the general partner of Summit Midstream partners and chair of its Corporate governance and Nominating Committee.
What will OPEC do next?
OPEC has delayed key meetings ahead of a planned Dec. 2 meeting to discuss its regularly scheduled output hike in January after markets tumbled on word of a new COVID-19 variant of concern, Omicron.
The new variant, which has more than 30 mutations on the spike protein that mRNA vaccines were modeled on, has already sparked some travel restrictions. How all that plays out will depend on how transmissible and severe Omicron actually turns out to be.
Not long ago, the Biden administration also coordinated a 50 million barrel release of crude oil from the nation’s strategic reserves alongside several other countries. Analysts estimate that took about a dollar off the cost for a barrel of oil.
American producers, meanwhile, have talked about plans to increase production in 2022, and rig counts continue to rise both nationally and in North Dakota. All of this leads to analyst expectations of a surplus in the first quarter of next year.
All these variables in play mean that OPEC will need to cut supply if it wants to keep oil at $65 per barrel, Enverus analysts suggested in a report they have just released.
“Bullish bets have been based on a colder-than-normal winter propping up oil demand. However, such bets forgot about the COVID boogieman,” Vice President of Intelligence at Enverus Intelligence Research said. “Markets are now pricing the worst for global oil demand as there is extreme uncertainty about the Omicron variant. Travel restrictions combined with knock-on economic effects are now shifting the risk on oil prices decidedly to the bearish side.”
Meetings, reports & more
The International Energy Agency says the world so far isn’t getting enough renewables to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The report suggests renewables will match the output capacity of fossil fuels around 2026. The report is online at https://www.iea.org/reports/renewables-2021.
Public comment period open for renewal of a North Dakota Pollutant Discharge permit for Sabin Metals in Williston. Response period ends Monday, Dec. 27. Online at tinyurl.com/yckr28za.