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Memories of a “black decade” and comparisons with collapsing Venezuela flow inescapably from the political tumult in Algeria that has curtailed the 20-year presidency of octogenarian Abdelaziz Boutefika. Neither fate is inevitable.

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The US Bureau of Land Management issued records of decision amending greater sage grouse habitat management plans covering nearly 60 million acres of sagebrush steppe in seven Western states, several of which have oil and gas activity. “We’re pleased that the final plans are out now and moving forward into implementation,” Western Energy Alliance Pres. Kathleen Sgamma said in Denver following BLM’s Mar. 15 announcement.

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Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority has withdrawn its revised guidelines on mitigation of greenhouse gases announced last week, promising instead a greater consultation process with companies potentially impacted. The move follows criticism from industry as well as a statement from Environment Minister Stephen Dawson saying that independent WAEPA guidance is not government policy, nor is it binding on the government.

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The US drilling rig count is down 1 unit to 1,026 rigs working for the week ended Mar. 15, according to Baker Hughes data. The count is up 36 units from the 990 rigs working this time a year ago. With a 3-unit loss over last week, there are 1,001 rigs drilling on land. The number of rigs drilling offshore remains unchanged at 22 units. Those rigs drilling in inland waters added 2 units to reach 3.

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Until recently, Venezuela’s oil production had stabilized at about 1.2 million b/d. However, the country’s recent electricity crisis has paralyzed it for substantial periods of time. In its Oil Market Report for March, the International Energy Agency warned that, as Venezuela’s industry operations were seriously disrupted by the crisis, ongoing losses could present a challenge to the oil market.

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Communities that have depended economically on coal are facing impacts now that communities that similarly rely on oil and gas will face in the future, speakers suggested at a Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs event. Such communities should consider partnerships with producers to help retrain employees and others who want to stay, they said during the Mar. 14 discussion at Resources for the Future about public policy reactions to oil-producing regions’ economic volatility.

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US sanctions will be necessary to stop construction of the proposed Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, speakers indicated at a Mar. 12 Jamestown Foundation (JF) event. “The project is divisive and essentially anti-European. US involvement will be crucial in strengthening European opposition to it,” said Piotr Wilczek, Poland’s ambassador to the US.

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Hungary’s MOL Group has let a contract to Frames Group BV, Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands, to provide desalting equipment for subsidiary MOL PLC’s 166,500-b/d Duna refinery in Szazhalombatta, near Budapest.

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Light, sweet crude oil for April settled at $58.61/bbl on Mar. 14, marking the highest level so far this year, while Brent crude oil declined slightly in London to settle at $67.23/bbl, marking its second-highest level of the year. The US crude contract for April marked the front month’s highest closing level since Nov. 12, 2018, and a fourth consecutive price gain.

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Chevron Australia has let a master contract to Aker Solutions for a subsea compression system for the company’s Jansz-Io field offshore Western Australia. The first stage of the contract is the front-end engineering and design of a subsea compression station that will boost gas recovery at the field, which is part of the overall Gorgon region development that supplies gas to the 15.6 million-tonne/year LNG and domestic gas plants on Barrow Island.

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