US Hits Pause Button on Oil & Gas Leasing, Doubles 2030 Offshore Wind Target

January 28, 2021, by Adrijana Buljan,

U.S. President Joe Biden signed a new Executive Order on 27 January, directing the Department of the Interior to identify steps that can be taken to double offshore wind energy production by 2030 and to pause entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and in federal waters.

The Executive Order comes a week after Biden’s statement of acceptance of the Paris Agreement on 20 January, following the U.S. exiting the Paris Agreement under the previous Administration. With the new order, Biden-Harris Administration aims to achieve a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and put the U.S. on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050. 

“The order affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition. It makes clear that both significant short-term global emission reductions and net zero global emissions by mid-century – or before – are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory”, the White House states in a press release.

The federal agencies are also directed to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and identify new opportunities in clean energy technologies and infrastructure.  The Department of Interior said that it would immediately begin a review of processes and procedures to date as it re-invests in a rigorous renewable energy program.

Commenting on the offshore wind target set by the new administration, Liz Burdock, president and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, said: “President Biden’s actions today confirm the critical role that offshore wind energy will play in creating a clean U.S. energy grid and achieving White House commitments to combat climate change. His call to double offshore wind production in U.S. federal waters sends a clear signal of support to our industry, which will generate billions in new investments”.

“Over the next few years, the offshore wind industry will dramatically scale up development of the U.S. supply chain, growing tens of thousands of new jobs in the process. The offshore wind has been on the precipice of significant growth thanks to states’ bold leadership and President Biden’s executive order further pushes the industry to new heights with a new sense of urgency”, Liz Burdock said.

The U.S. currently has two offshore wind farms up and running in its state and federal waters.

The country’s first offshore wind farm, the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, comprises five GE Haliade 6 MW wind turbines which have been in operationsince December 2016.

The two-turbine, 12 MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project, the first wind farm installed in U.S. federal waters, went into operation last year. The pilot project is expected to provide the operational, weather, and environmental experience needed for a 2.6 GW development in the adjacent 112,800-hectare lease site, expected to be operational by 2026.

SpaceX Linked To Two Semisubmersibles That May Soon Become Deepwater Spaceports

Trent Jacobs, JPT Digital Editor | 19 January 2021

Two deepwater rigs that were likely destined for the scrap yard appear to have found a second lease on life as offshore launchpads.

This is according to various reports that claim SpaceX is linked to the purchase of a pair of semisubmersibles from London-based offshore drilling contractor Valaris before it filed for bankruptcy protection last year.

The development was first reported on Twitter by reporters with NASASpaceFlight, an independent website covering the space industry, who shared photos of a drilling rig in Brownsville, Texas, which sits along the Gulf of Mexico. The images showed a rig named Deimos and the website reported that a second rig named Phobos is also sitting quayside in Brownsville.

The semisubmersibles both measure 240 × 255 ft and were formerly known as ENSCO 8500 and ENSCO 8501. According to public reports they were sold for $3.5 million apiece by Valaris in August. Later that month the drilling contractor, which was formed in 2019 when Ensco acquired Rowan, was forced into bankruptcy protection as the pandemic-driven downturn removed hopes of an offshore revival.

The owner of the newly renamed rigs is a company called Lone Star Minerals which public records show was incorporated in Texas in June. Twitter users revealed that the limited liability company has a single principal listed: Bret Johnsen, the CFO and president of strategic acquisitions at SpaceX. 

The company is known to have used a similar arrangement for its rocket landing barges that it leases from a wholly owned subsidiary. SpaceX also operates a test launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, located about 20 miles from Brownsville.

SpaceX has not commented on or confirmed the details surrounding the two rigs.

In June, SpaceX began recruiting offshore operations engineers “to design and build an operational offshore rocket launch facility.”

As news of the job postings spread, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that the company’s goal was to build “floating, superheavy-class spaceports” that could be used to send rockets into Earth orbit, to the Moon, or to Mars.

Deimos and Phobos are the names of the two moons of Mars.

The ENSCO 8500 was constructed in Singapore in 2008 as the first of seven identical rigs designed to drill in up to 8,500 ft of water and maintain station using dynamic positioning. Rig builder Keppel FELS delivered the ENSCO 8501, the second in the series, to the Gulf of Mexico in 2009.

The semisubmersible is the offshore oil and gas industry’s most-common type of mobile drilling rig. As the industry moved into deeper waters, the semisubmersible design became increasingly popular because it affords a large and stable deck space.

If SpaceX manages to convert the deepwater drilling units into launchpads, it will not be the first to do so.

In 1997, a semisubmersible previously used to drill subsea wells was converted into a commercial spaceport.

Called the Odyssey, the 456-ft long vessel was stationed on the equator where the surface of the earth moves faster than it does closer to the poles, thus lowering the cost of launches. The floating facility was used to successfully launch more than 30 rockets with satellite payloads from 1999 to 2014.

Should Oil and Gas Companies Move Full-Speed Ahead With Energy Transition Plans?

Peter Bryant, Clareo | 05 January 2021

Within the race for renewables, oil and gas companies are finding themselves in a proverbial rut as they reassess existing profitable models with future energy transition plans.

The nature and magnitude of this shift has set new strategic parameters for the sector.

What adds more difficulty is the question of speed in which companies pursue this conundrum. Should oil and gas companies be more aggressive in their energy transition plans?

Maximizing shareholder value is a part of a multi-pronged strategy to accelerate the energy transition. Those elements include

  • Maximizing the value of the current oil and gas business by significantly reducing the cost of production
  • Capital allocation efficiency to large offshore projects that needs to anticipate future demand and supply
  • A transition of capital expenditure to renewables businesses at a measured pace
  • A commitment to net-zero emissions from operations
  • An investment in carbon-reduction technologies (e.g., carbon capture and storage)

A serious commitment to all the above is required to influence and shape the market sentiment, and ultimately share price and shareholder value.

As I mentioned in The Wall Street Journal’s article on the energy investor’s dilemma, no oil and gas company has figured out how to make money in a low-carbon energy world. In short, Exxon and BP are two sides of the same coin.

Arguably, improved performance in the core oil and gas sector may not help increase the share price and shareholder value unless it is backed by stock buybacks and high dividends, which would in turn divert capital from investing in new growth businesses.

The slowdown in oil demand combined with oversupply and the resulting low prices means that if oil continues to sit in the range of $30 to $50/bbl, the spread between returns on capital oil projects and renewable projects narrows significantly.

My belief is that a reset is imminent for oil companies and their dividend yield profiles because it will be impossible to maintain their current dividend yields at that price range; no oil company can sell enough assets and borrow enough money to do it.

Most CEOs of the major independent oil companies, especially those in Europe, have realized that a valuable energy company in 20 years is not a pure oil and gas company, and they are transitioning to do just that. But to date that transition has been very measured among the likes of BP and Shell, which includes shifting the percentage of CAPEX to renewables.

To honor this commitment, as reported in The Guardian, BP has pledged to invest $5 billion by 2030 in renewables, which is a tenfold increase, against a total downward revised 2020 CAPEX of $12 billion.

These investments are focused on investing in various parts of the new energy value chain as they build optionality. For instance, Shell, with its offtake agreement, expects completion of Phase A of the offshore (North Sea) Dogger Bank Wind Farm in Q2 2022.

Onshore construction began in 2020. It is being jointly developed by Equinor and SSE Renewables, and first power is expected for summer 2023. The total expected power generation is 3,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, which is enough to power more than 825,000 Dutch households.

Meanwhile, BP has acquired UK’s largest charging company, Chargepoint, and Total has acquired two utilities since 2018 with a combined 8.5 million customers in Europe.

Oil and gas companies also need a strategic viewpoint on where value lies and new and disruptive business models.

Venture arms have traditionally provided that opportunity with varied investments in new energy startups, from smart grids to hydrogen fuel, to further bolster optionality. For instance, BP Ventures reportedly invests between $150 million to $200 million annually into startups, the majority of which are in the renewable energy space.

Although these ambitious commitments by primarily European companies are promising, they have made little movement for their languishing stock prices and market caps. (The market clearly does not see these strategies as entirely credible, in my opinion.)

Orsted, a wind company which transitioned from a coal company, has a market cap ($76 billion) greater than BP ($70 billion), despite having a fifth of the revenue. Or consider this: NextEra Energy, the biggest renewables producer in the US, has a market cap of $147 billion, which is close to Exxon’s $170 billion, despite having 10% of Exxon’s revenue.   

With these forces at play, oil companies will start allocating ever-increasing percentages of their CAPEX to renewable energy, as we have seen.

On average, oil companies allocate 10% of their CAPEX into renewable energy investments, including acquisitions of smaller utilities. Additionally, a shift in CAPEX of between 30% and 50% toward renewable energy in the next 3 to 5 years is possible, although the most aggressive companies like BP say that is 10 years out, for now.

The dilemma is significant, given the uncertainty as to where the sweet spot is that makes their transition meaningful to investors and the market without cratering their core business. BP calls this dual approach “Perform and Transform” and the market does not seem to be buying into either right now. 

12th Annual Warrior Benefit Sporting Clay Tournament

The 12th Annual Warrior Benefit Clay Tournament will be held on Friday, March 19, 2021 at the Westside Sporting Grounds near Houston, Texas.

  • 100 Clay Tournament
  • 4-Man Team, Ammunition Not Provided
  • Breakfast, BBQ Lunch and Drinks Provided
  • Gates Open at 7 a.m.
  • Shoot Starts at 9 a.m.

Come honor and shoot alongside those who sacrificed for us after 9/11!  All proceeds go to the Warrior Benefit, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to building camaraderie between post 9/11 combat wounded veterans, and demonstrating to those still recovering from physical and emotional injuries that there is a good and purposeful life after service to their country.

Five Ways High Achievers Can Eliminate Overwhelm and Get Un-Stuck

Here are a few tips you can use to free your mind and create space for progress.

Article by Janet Autherine, January 8, 2021,

You are on your way to an abundant life, enthusiastically checking every box on your to-do list, and you unexpectedly become stuck. You try your usual tricks to free yourself, but this time nothing works. Your mind and body are telling you that your old way of operating no longer works and it is time for something new.

There have been so many times that I have had to work through the overwhelm that leads to inaction. It is a frustrating feeling, especially for high achievers who are used to powering through any struggle. Here are a few tips you can use to free your mind and create space for progress.

1) Practice mindfulness.

Island mindfulness brings the gift of presence. It is the convergence of a conscious mind and a free spirit. Find confidence in knowing that you are one with the universe and the universe is rooting for you. Know that your mind can be that junk drawer where you toss everything or a calm oasis. Calm is what we seek.

Begin with five minutes of mindfulness meditation each morning to clear the clutter from your mind. The only requirement is a quiet space to be one with yourself. Eliminate all thoughts of the past or the future and focus on the present. Take a few deep breaths and feel it move throughout your body.

As a society, we have moved away from the joy of stillness, so this may feel like an uncomfortable exercise. Don’t give up! Within a week, you will notice a big difference in your stress level and mindset. Take that calm with you throughout the day and tap into that space when overwhelm starts to set in.

2) Avoid overwhelm.

Mindfulness helped you clear the clutter from your mind. Now, clear the clutter from both your physical space and your to-do list.

Decluttering your physical space can free the mind, so make your bed, give away the clothes that you haven’t worn in a year, store the knick-knacks in the garage, and create a workspace that promotes calm. I am surrounded by books, because that brings me calm.

Finally, identify one activity that consistently brings you peace, such as going for a short walk. This will be your stress-free ritual when stress starts to build up.

3) Get un-stuck.

After meditation, when your mind is calm, have a honest conversation with yourself about what is causing the mental block prohibiting you from accomplishing a particular goal or task (wrong goal, resources, lack of confidence, time constraints).

Act based on your truth, but go at your own pace. If you are on social media, you will notice so many people seemingly passing you by. Understand that everyone is on a different journey.

If you keep your foot on the gas that leads to your destination, you are winning. When you go at your own pace, you enjoy the journey – and you also enjoy the rewards when you arrive safely.

4) Focus on balance.

We get stressed, overwhelmed and stuck when we are focusing on either too many priorities or the wrong priorities.

Multi-tasking is disastrous to balance. Each morning, choose no more than three priorities.

5) Create an abundant life.

Find your purpose and then determine what legacy you would like to create. Your purpose and your legacy are your main missions in life; everything else is either a distraction or a wonderful bonus. Eliminate the distractions.

Finally, don’t keep moving the goalpost for success; walk in gratitude and stop to enjoy each victory. As with any practice, repetition is the key to success.


BY Shawn Mcnulty-Kowal, Yanko Design, 12/24/2020

With its prototype becoming the world’s first wind turbine to generate 288 MWh worth of wind power over the course of only 24 hours, GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X is a giant. Towering above Rotterdam, Haliade-X’s 12 MW prototype set world records by harnessing power for 30,000 homes with its debut. For the next five years, power will be generated there for nearby Dutch company Eneco, while production for GE Renewable Energy’s 13 MW and 14 MW wind turbines at Dogger Bank, a large sandbar in the North Sea, moves underway.

Following the literal overnight success of the monolithic, 853-foot wind turbine, GE devised plans for serial production. Dogger Bank is located smack dab in the middle of the North Sea and will soon give rise to the largest offshore wind farm on Earth. Reaching completion by 2026, the wind farm will consist of wind turbines that will be able to generate more than 3.6 GW worth of energy, sufficient to power up to 4.5 million homes. Each wind turbine consists of monumental limbs, with a 722-foot rotor and 351-foot blades, and maintains a high capacity factor, which measures a machine’s energy output with the amount of time it’s been in operation, of 60-64%. All of these elements work together in order to increase the wind turbine’s adaptability and predictability in regard to changing wind speeds. Even further, the long blades, large rotor, and high capacity factor equip Haliade-X with the ability to generate power even through low wind speeds. In fact, the makers at GE Renewable Energy said, “The Haliade-X can capture more Annual Energy Production (AEP) than any other offshore wind turbine even at low wind conditions. One Haliade-X 14 MW turbine can generate up to 74 GWh of gross annual energy production.”

With hopes of reaching a ‘net-zero’ emissions target by 2050, the UK currently looks towards Haliade-X as a beacon of light in reducing the country’s CO2 emissions, which a single 13 MW Heliade-X can help reduce by 52,000 metric tons – the equivalent of removing 11,000 passenger cars off the road on a yearly basis. By the time the Dogger Bank wind farm’s commercial operations are completed in 2026, around 190 13 MW wind turbines will dot the North Sea, expecting to generate electricity for more than six-million homes.