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January 2018

Vol. 23, No. 3 Week of January 21, 2018

Rumor confirmed: BP’s Bob Dudley met with Gov. Bill Walker; separately, Dudley cautious on ANWR

Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

In the previous issue of Petroleum News (Jan. 14 edition) Oil Patch Insider reported rumors that BP chief Bob Dudley met with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker on Jan. 5 in Juneau.

A PN source close to the governor said BP’s chief wanted to discuss the state’s oil and gas policies, in particular Walker’s actions toward BP that largely stemmed from his conviction that BP should be producing the natural gas it held in its Prudhoe Bay leases. Dudley’s agenda appeared to be smoothing over the relationship with the Walker administration. And yes, he was prepared to discuss the subject closest to the governor’s heart: A massive liquefied natural gas export project.

A Jan. 8 call from PN to the governor’s deputy press secretary yielded no comment. PN’s media contact in the Alaska office for BP was unaware of Dudley’s Juneau meeting.

That Insider brief was written Jan. 11 and released online in Petroleum News the morning of Jan. 12.

In the same time period Dudley was giving an exclusive interview to Axios reporter Amy Harder that confirmed Alaska and BP’s top executives had indeed met.

Axios is an American news and information website, founded in 2017. Its initial launch funding came from, among others, BP. (Other backers included NBC News, Emerson Collective, Greycroft Partners, and David and Katherine Bradley, owners of Atlantic Media. Axios’ initial launch partners were JP Morgan & Chase Co., PhRma, Boeing, BP, Bank of America, Koch Industries, S&P Global, United Health Group, Walmart, PepsiCo and Cooley LLP.)

Axios reported on Jan. 12, “BP’s consideration gives potential credence to the $43 billion proposed (Alaska) project, which coincided with President Trump visiting China in November and touting his administration’s backing of it. Many analysts doubt the proposal will actually come through, though, given a lack of details and firm commitments at the time of the announcement.”

Dudley was quoted as saying. “It’s a large resource, and the world is going to need natural gas, particularly Asia. … We’re exploring with the state ways to make that resource find a market.”

Furthermore, he told Axios, “I had not met the governor before. I was impressed.”

In a separate interview, Charif Souki, “considered a pioneer in the natural gas exporting industry and founder of two companies in this space, expressed skepticism about the project.”

“With a slight eye roll, Souki said, “‘it’s a very, very ambitious project.’”

Here’s what else Souki, who decades earlier founded Cheniere Energy, told Axios about the Alaska project:

“It depends on a lot of moving parts. You have to source the gas, build the pipeline infrastructure and build the liquefaction facility. That’s three pieces controlled by three different groups of people.”

But by the end of Souki’s comments on Walker’s project, he reportedly sounded more optimistic: “It’s an attractive project,” he told Axios.

Dudley reportedly cautious about ANWR

Other highlights from Axios’ exclusive interview with Dudley included BP’s interest in drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“The honest answer is we don’t know … so we and I think most companies have got to have a good hard look in the geology over there.”

BP was a part of the consortium that drilled the only oil well in ANWR.

“The results of that well are highly confidential, legally protected. … Even I haven’t even seen that,” he said.

- KAY CASHMAN, publisher






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