Trump plans to loosen Arctic petroleum regulations
The Trump administration has proposed loosening safety regulations for the oil industry in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska to ease the way for petroleum extraction in the region - an effort that President-Elect Joe Biden will likely throw out once in office.
The proposal looks to revise a suite of Obama-era rules crafted to improve safety in the extreme conditions of the Arctic, after a Shell drilling rig ran aground in the Gulf of Alaska in 2012. The company later abandoned oil exploration in the area, and there are currently no active drilling operations there.
Much of the US portion of the Arctic Ocean – the Chukchi Sea and part of the Beaufort Sea – is off-limits to new oil and gas leasing under a 2019 judge’s order that overturned the outgoing president’s efforts to open vast areas of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans to oil leasing.
Biden has vowed to ban all new drilling in federal lands and waters once he takes office.
The US Department of Interior, which oversees the government’s offshore oil and gas program, says in a statement that the revisions would remove unnecessary, burdensome provisions in the 2016 rules.
The proposal would specifically eliminate a requirement that oil operators submit a detailed operations plan before filing an exploration request, according to a fact sheet published by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The Trump administration is also seeking to roll back a rule that requires operators to demonstrate they can quickly deploy containment equipment in case of oil spills, such as capping stacks or domes.
The proposed changes have been welcomed by the top oil industry trade group, which claims that developing Arctic resources is critical to US national security.
“We look forward to reviewing a proposal that seeks to correct short-sighted restrictions to research and exploration of the world’s largest remaining conventional, undiscovered oil and natural gas resources,” American Petroleum Institute Senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola says in a statement.
However, Alaska Wilderness League, an environmental group, says that the rollback increases the risk of an oil spill in the region, which would endanger wildlife and coastal communities in the fragile ecosystem.
“There simply are no effective means to respond to or clean up an oil spill in the Arctic’s harsh and remote conditions,” Leah Donahey, legislative director for AWL, says in a statement.
Before the proposal can be finalised, it will have to undergo a 60-day public comment period that will begin once the rules are published in the Federal Register. A spokesperson for the BSEE could not confirm on when that would happen.
Joe Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.
Hydrogen Map shows 57 projects are operational globally
Currently there are 57 projects operational and a further 58 will be in development by the end of 2021. Construction of another 92 are slated to begin in the next decade.
Western Europe and Asia Pacific, which account for more than 83% of known low-carbon hydrogen projects, are driving growth, but US projects are rising. The US is well positioned to lead the green hydrogen economy due to the abundant, low cost renewable energy sources needed to produce it, such as wind, solar, hydropower and nuclear, according to McKinsey.
A hydrogen production facility being built at the Tabangao refinery in Batangas, Philippines is slated to be the first to generate blue hydrogen, in which hydrogen is produced using fossil-fueled sources but the resulting carbon emissions are captured, stored or reused.
"Low carbon hydrogen and ammonia production is the key to decarbonising the hard-to-decarbonise sectors like transportation, industry and buildings”, said Pillsbury energy partner and Deputy Energy Industry Group leader Elina Teplinsky.
"This map will be a helpful tool for a broad audience of policy makers, industry participants and investors, sustainability analysts, advocates and journalists tracking the development of low-carbon hydrogen projects and encourage dialogue between those parties to further accelerate adoption of this transformational technology."
"With governments and enterprises worldwide increasingly prioritising decarbonisation goals, we are laser-focused on helping clients capitalise on the enormous opportunities that the ongoing energy transition presents,” said partner Sheila Harvey, who serves as firm-wide Energy Industry Group leader at Pillsbury and co-leads the firm’s Hydrogen practice.
Hydrogen practice group co-leader Mona Dajani, who heads Energy & Infrastructure Projects and Renewable Energy teams, said energy demand is driving significant innovation in the hydrogen space.
"Green hydrogen projects, which combine renewable power sources with hydrogen production, are unlocking new possibilities for regions previously constrained by weak grid connections and transmission bottlenecks and marking a crucial step in the development of the green hydrogen business case," she said.
New Australian clean energy storage startup Endua aims to build hydrogen-powered energy storage and deliver sustainable, reliable and affordable power.
Endua is backed by $5 million in funding, technology and industry expertise from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency; Main Sequence, the deep tech investment fund founded by CSIRO; and Ampol, the country’s largest fuel network.