Energy Brief: Tillerson Would Unload $240 Million in Exxon Shares If Confirmed

Washington Brief

  • Exxon Mobil Corp. said former CEO Rex Tillerson will give up $240 million in shares if he is confirmed as secretary of State. (Bloomberg News)
  • The House is set to bring up the “Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017,” which would allow it to bundle multiple measures blocking Obama administration regulations, and the REINS Act, which would give Congress more authority over major regulations, by the end of this week. (E&E Daily)
  • The House passed a rules package for the 115th Congress that would change how Congress considers the budget impact of selling off federal lands, which environmentalists criticized as an attempt to enable land transfers to states. (The Washington Post)

Business Brief

  • France’s nuclear regulator is widening an investigation into possibly faulty nuclear reactor components at a factory operated by Areva. (Financial Times)
  • Washington state rejected a proposed coal export terminal along the Columbia River. (The Associated Press)
  • Oil and gas company Samson Resources warned that if creditors continue to push a competing chapter 11 bankruptcy plan past Friday, it will reduce its own $168.5 million offer to them. (The Wall Street Journal)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Wednesday
API’s State of American Energy 2017 12:30 p.m.
Thursday
EIA presents Annual Energy Outlook 2017 10 a.m.
AEI discussion on OPEC 11 a.m.
Friday
No events scheduled

 

General

House GOP rules change will make it easier to sell off federal land
Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

House Republicans on Tuesday changed the way Congress calculates the cost of transferring federal lands to the states and other entities, a move that will make it easier for members of the new Congress to cede federal control of public lands. The provision, included as part as a larger rules package the House approved by a vote of 233 to 190 during its first day in session, highlights the extent to which some congressional Republicans hope to change longstanding rules now that the GOP will control the executive and the legislative branches starting Jan. 20.

Battle begins over major GOP reform push
Arianna Skibell, E&E Daily

As the 115th Congress kicks off this week, Republicans plan to immediately flex their muscles by deploying a host of legislative tools aimed at attacking an array of Obama-era regulations — from the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Rule to elements of bedrock environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act. Two regulatory rollback measures are already on the agenda.

Pruitt Meets With Barrasso, Inhofe
Jack Fitzpatrick, Morning Consult

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has been tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, met with incoming Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and former Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) Tuesday afternoon, and is expected to hold more meetings with lawmakers this week. Pruitt, Barrasso, and Inhofe met for 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon.

Greens launch six-figure campaign against EPA nominee
Timothy Cama, The Hill

An environmental group is launching a new advertising campaign against the confirmation of President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Clean Air Moms Action, a project of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, said Tuesday it is spending six figures on the campaign which centers on children’s health concerns, targeting the Washington, D.C., area, and six states with senators who may be key to the confirmation vote.

Oil and Natural Gas

Tillerson to Cede Control of $240 Million in Exxon as Trump Pick
Ben Sharples and Joe Carroll, Bloomberg News

Rex Tillerson, former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief executive and President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. secretary of state, will relinquish control of about $240 million in company shares if confirmed as he severs ties to comply with conflict-of-interest requirements. If confirmed, Tillerson will sell the more than 600,000 shares he owns in the largest U.S. oil explorer and transfer the value of more than 2 million in deferred shares to an independently managed trust, Exxon said in a statement dated Jan. 3.

Samson Resources Close to a Deal But Still Battling Creditors
Peg Brickley, The Wall Street Journal

Samson Resources Corp. has given junior creditors until Friday to stand down from a bankruptcy-court confrontation over the oil-and-gas company’s future, warning that the $168.5 million junior creditors are being offered will decline if the creditors press ahead with a rival chapter 11 exit plan. Talks that took place in the waning days of 2016 brought the Oklahoma company and the official committee representing Samson’s unsecured creditors close to a deal that would allow the company to exit bankruptcy peacefully, ending a contentious chapter 11 proceeding.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Interior Gas Utility, Fairbanks Natural Gas close in on merger
Matt Buxton, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The municipal Interior Gas Utility announced last week that it’s close to a deal to take ownership of Fairbanks Natural Gas. The Interior Gas Utility announced it’s close to signing an agreement with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to consolidate the utilities under local control and chart the course for its development for the next decade.

Dispute arises as state utility commission swears in new member
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

Arizona utility regulators swore in a new member Tuesday and elected a new chairman amid what threatens to be open warfare on the panel. In a ceremony filled with speeches and congratulations, Boyd Dunn, newly elected in November, was seated on the Arizona Corporation Commission as incumbents Bob Burns and Andy Tobin got new four-year terms.

Renewables

Solar targets: ‘We’re already halfway there’ says Energy Minister Mark Bailey
Tony Moore, Brisbane Times

The Queensland Government says it is halfway towards one section of its 2020 target of generating 3000 megawatts of solar power from Queensland rooftops by 2020. “November’s peak of almost 16MW of solar generation capacity installed represents a 33 per cent increase on the year-to-date monthly average,” Energy Minister Mark Bailey said on December 19.

French power group aims to double wind capacity
Daniel J. Graeber, UPI

An arrangement with the leading insurance company in France helps with the goal of doubling wind power capacity in the country, French power group ENGIE said. The French company said it build up its partnership with Crédit Agricole Assurances, the leading insurer, by absorbing the onshore wind power portfolio held by Maia Eolis.

MDU adds more wind power
Jessica Holdman, Bismarck Tribune

Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. has signed a 25-year wind-power purchase agreement. The agreement is for power from the expansion of Thunder Spirit Wind farm near Hettinger.

Coal

Washington state denies sublease for coal export terminal
The Associated Press

Washington state is refusing to allow its aquatic lands to be used for a major coal-export terminal along the Columbia River, dealing what one opponent described as “the final nail in the coffin” for the project. Millennium Bulk Terminals proposed building a terminal in Longview that would export coal from Montana, Wyoming and other states to Asia.

Energy bills soar in shift from coal power stations
Kylar Loussikian, The Australian

Electricity companies have begun hiking consumer prices around Australia, blaming the closure of coal-fired generators and the increased cost of renewable ­energy for higher-than-predicted increases of more than $130 this year. EnergyAustralia and AGL have increased electricity tariffs in Victoria by $135 and $132 on ­average for the year respectively — greatly exceeding state government modelling that concluded bills would rise by $27 to $100.

Nuclear

French watchdog deepens probes into Areva nuclear parts
Michael Stothard, Financial Times

Investigators are widening probes into potentially faulty nuclear reactor components made at a factory operated by Areva, the French manufacturer, after the problems contributed to multiple shutdowns of power plants this year. Julien Collet, deputy director of the ASN, France’s nuclear regulator, said he wanted to “go much further” with investigations into Areva’s components, including one probe into the falsification of documents that certified the quality of certain parts.

Fate of Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant remains unknown
Japan Times

The government is struggling to decide the future of Tepco’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, which has been suspended since the March 2011 disaster. There have been increasing calls for decommissioning the power plant located just a few kilometers south of the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 installation.

Climate

Climate change a bull’s-eye in the era of all-Republican rule
Emily Holden and Evan Lehmann, Climatewire

With the opening of the 115th Congress, the GOP is poised to begin altering the nation’s direction on greenhouse gases across the economy, from electricity and transportation to trade and foreign policy. Republican measures once seen as symbolic provocations against a liberal president are now considered mainstream policy.

UNL scientists facing uncertain future on climate change research
Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star

Most of the questions circulated at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco in mid-December seemed innocuous enough, one University of Nebraska-Lincoln research professor who attended the conference said. But among the scientists and professors doing research into global climate change, some of the 74 questions put to the U.S. Department of Energy raised eyebrows.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Funding national park repairs would give new Congress an early win
Marcia Argust, The Hill

As a new president and Congress prepare to assume leadership in Washington, they should start their work with a unifying issue: fixing America’s national parks. Among our country’s proudest legacies, the parks — along with battlefields, memorials, historic homes and other places managed by the National Park Service (NPS) — need almost $12 billion for repairs ranging from aging, unsafe electrical systems to eroded trails and crumbling bridges.

Research Reports

Biases of the wintertime Arctic Oscillation in CMIP5 models
Hainan Gong et al., Environmental Research Letters

Distinct biases are found in the pattern and teleconnections of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) in 32 climate models that participate the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). Compared with observations, the Pacific (Atlantic) center of AO is excessively strong (weak) in most of the 32 CMIP5 models, and the AO-related surface air temperature anomalies are generally weak over the Eurasian continent and North America. These biases are closely tied to the excessively strong linkage, which is marginal in observations, between AO and the North Pacific mode (NPM)—the leading variability of the North Pacific sea level pressure.