Posts Tagged ‘royalty’

An internal memo from the U.S. Interior Department suggesting that the agency set the highest possible royalty fee on potential oil and gas development before last year’s Cook Inlet lease sale is drawing blowback from the Democratic chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said in a statement he was “appalled” by the memo, which he said was leaked and prioritized a “radical climate agenda” over the energy needs of Alaskans and the U.S.

Anchorage Daily News

From the decision memo:

While a 16 ⅔ percent royalty may be more likely to facilitate expeditious and orderly development of OCS resources and potentially offer greater energy security to residents of the State of Alaska, a reasonable balancing of the environmental and economic factors for the American public favors the maximum 18 ¾ percent royalty for Cook Inlet leases.

Sale 258 Decision Memo

The lower royalty rate probably would not have made much difference in the outcome of this sale, which only drew one bid, but the attitude expressed in the decision memo is rather disappointing given the Department’s mission, as expressed in the OCS Lands Act, to make resources available for expeditious and orderly development.

What might have made the sale more attractive was royalty suspensions, Option D.5.b (below). This would have been the best means of supporting the objectives of Senator Manchin, the other authors of the congressional leasing mandate, and the State of Alaska.

Option D.5.b: Offer Royalty Suspensions
BOEM could offer royalty suspensions with the goal of making resources available for expeditious and orderly development. However, BOEM does not recommend royalty suspensions as the recommended lease term options are expected to balance the goals outlined earlier in this memo

Sale 258 Decision Memo

Those who are concerned by the Sale 258 Decision Memo should be more troubled by the Proposed 5 Year Leasing Plan, most notably this stunning sentence which justifies the minimalist plan and signals a phasing out of offshore oil and gas leasing:

The long-term nature of OCS oil and gas development, such that production on a lease can continue for decades makes consideration of future climate pathways relevant to the Secretary’s determinations with respect to how the OCS leasing program best meets the Nation’s energy needs.

5 Year Leasing Program, p.3

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Observations and comments on the offshore findings and recommendations in the Dept. of the Interior’s report:

  • From an offshore perspective, this report is more moderate than expected. No major complaints.
  • The report was issued the Friday after Thanksgiving. Was there a desire to minimize attention?
  • The report does not include a recommendation on raising royalty rates. DOI will continue to study such actions (prudent decision).
  • BSEE estimates current liability for “orphaned infrastructure” at only $65 million. They must be using a very narrow definition of orphaned infrastructure.
  • “Financial assurance coverage should be strengthened.” (Few would argue with that statement.)
  • “BSEE and BOEM will carefully consider comments on the 2020 proposed financial assurance rule.” (Deja vu? Expect a long, slow process.)
  • BOEM will establish a “fitness to operate standard.” Comments: (1) This is an old concept that has proven to be difficult to execute. Hold companies accountable, make them demonstrate financial assurance, and don’t pander to bad actors (see the case of Hogan and Houchin) (2) Why is BOEM establishing this standard and not BSEE, the safety bureau? (The division of responsibilities between BOEM and BSEE has created serious overlap, inefficiency, and confusion and needs to be addressed.)
  • “BOEM should consider advancing alternatives to the practice of area-wide leasing.” Tract selection makes sense in frontier areas with little operational history. It would have been perfect for the Mid- or South Atlantic or the EGoM, all of which were cynically removed from future leasing consideration by the previous President just before the 2020 election. The Central and Western Gulf of Mexico is too mature for a return to tract selection; employing that approach after 40 years of area-wide leasing is likely to generate less revenue and production.

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