Elwood Brehmer

House Resources bill would raise oil taxes, curtail credits

Oil and gas taxes have made their anticipated appearance in Juneau.

Anchorage Democrats and House Resource Committee Co-chairs Reps. Geran Tarr and Andy Josephson laid out their plan to correct what they see as a major imbalance in the state’s oil and gas tax credit program given the sub-$65 per barrel price regime oil markets have been mired in for more than two years.

The tension that Alaska’s ever-present oil tax debate carries spilled over to the bill’s initial introduction and committee referral during the Wednesday House floor session.

Groundhog Day in Juneau over Permanent Fund

It’s Groundhog Day for Permanent Fund hearings.

The House Finance Committee took up Gov. Bill Walker’s Alaska Permanent Fund Protection Act for the first time of this session on Feb. 2, but it was far from the first time in the last year legislators have been briefed on it.

The bill is virtually identical to Senate Bill 128, the Permanent Fund bill that same House committee voted down 5-6 last June after it passed the Senate 14-5 with broad support from the overwhelming Republican majority.

Graphite prospect near Nome holds big potential

There is ample development potential in Alaska’s lone graphite prospect, according to a preliminary economic report on the mine venture.

The Graphite Creek flake graphite deposit near Nome is being pursued by Vancouver-based Graphite One Resources. A preliminary economic assessment of the resource and Graphite One’s plans to extract and process it found the project could have a value to investors of more than $1 billion and a payback period of just four years.

AEDC: business confidence fall tied to legislative inaction

Anchorage is in for another tough year economically as businesses continue adjusting to the sudden and wholesale change in the city’s dominant oil industry that happened in 2014.

The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. is projecting its city will lose 2,200 jobs in 2017 on top of the estimated 2,700 jobs Anchorage employers shed last year. The 2017 projection equates to 1.4 percent of the city’s job market; the 2016 job losses were a 1.7 percent market contraction.

ConocoPhillips saw improvements in last half of 2016, but posts $3.6B loss

ConocoPhillips turned a $115 million profit in Alaska during the last quarter of 2016, but once again lost money overall, according to the company’s latest earnings report published Thursday.

For the fourth quarter at least, relatively higher oil prices helped keep the companywide losses to $35 million as opposed to the $1 billion-plus ConocoPhillips lost in each of the first three quarters of the year.

State nears finish for smaller gasline permits

While much attention has been given to the large Alaska LNG Project in recent months, the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. is closing in on federal permits needed for the state’s smaller plan to access North Slope natural gas.

Final regulatory approval to build the 36-inch Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline project, or ASAP, with an estimated cost of about $10 billion, is still probably about a year away, but that’s not bad considering the timeline to study an Alaska megaproject is usually measured in years and can take closer to a decade.

Anchorage settles with port contractors, MARAD suit ongoing

The Municipality of Anchorage has settled its lawsuit against all the private contractors involved in the bungled and scrapped Port of Anchorage Intermodal Expansion Project, clearing the way for a renewed court showdown with the federal government.

Ratepayers to save millions under Railbelt utilities’ power sharing deal

A trio of Alaska’s largest electric utilities announced an agreement Monday to start operating more as one.

Matanuska Electric Association, Anchorage’s Municipal Light and Power and Chugach Electric Association submitted a new power pooling and joint dispatch agreement to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, also on Monday, that could cumulatively save between $12 million and $16 million per year, according to utility leaders.

Mental Health Trust Authority optimistic about timber land swap

JUNEAU — Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority land managers are optimistic Congress will approve a long-sought swap of Southeast timberland parcels with the U.S. Forest Service.

Trust Land Office Executive Director John Morrison told the authority board of trustees at their Thursday afternoon meeting in Juneau that getting the land exchange done is one of his agency’s top priorities.

Permitting delays put ConocoPhillips’ GMT-2 timeline in jeopardy

It’s taking longer than ConocoPhillips planned to get approval for its second oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which could delay production from the project by at least a year.

The company hopes to have the $1 billion-plus Greater Mooses Tooth-2 project producing by the end of 2020. Once fully developed with 33 wells, GMT-2 is expected to generate up to 30,000 barrels of oil per day.

For the Alyeksa team, it's 40 years down and 40 to go

There are a lot of people in Alaska banking on the hope that throughput decline is just the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System going through a minor midlife crisis.

Because if that’s the case, many billion more barrels of oil are likely to flow through it.

Having pumped oil for 40 years, nearly 17.5 billion barrels of North Slope crude have coursed Alaska’s 800-mile economic artery.

TAPS, or even more simply, “the pipeline,” to most Alaskans, is already living beyond its years, according to the folks responsible for it.

New oil escort tugs get poor review at citizens’ council

A vessel design firm hired by a Prince William Sound environmental watchdog group is very skeptical of the capability of tugs being built to escort oil tankers out of Valdez.

Marine engineer Robert Allan told members of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council board of directors on Jan. 19 that his company found “fairly significant deficiencies” in the designs of two classes of tugs that Edison Chouest Offshore plans to use in the sound starting next year.

BP agrees to help state on gasline development

JUNEAU — Alaska still has one partner in its $45 billion liquefied natural gas export project.

BP and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. announced an agreement of cooperation Jan. 23 “to collaborate in the development” of financing and customer contracts for the Alaska LNG Project, according to an AGDC press release.

Calista, Air Carriers launch apprenticeship programs

Just because Alaska’s economy has taken a few shots to the chin lately hasn’t changed the state’s long-term need for an increasingly skilled workforce.

Recognizing that, Calista Corp. and the Alaska Air Carriers Association have simultaneously been developing separate apprenticeship programs.

While the Air Carriers’ industry of focus is pretty self-explanatory, Calista’s efforts are geared toward one of Alaska’s oldest industries: the maritime trades.

USDA pumped $2.1B into state in last 8 years

A small federal office has quietly injected more than $2.1 billion into Alaska over the past eight years with almost no impact to the national debt.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development has done that through its 35 programs that help fund everything from water and sewer systems in the most remote villages in Alaska to startup businesses in every corner of the state.

State sues feds over predator control restrictions

The State of Alaska has taken the Obama administration to court one last time.

State attorneys filed a lawsuit against outgoing Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service leaders Jan. 13, contending new regulations limiting predator control on federal wildlife refuge lands unlawfully step on state management authority.

Delegation revs up for another ANWR fight

Alaska’s congressional delegation is hoping the 13th time will be the lucky one for legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and natural gas development.

That’s because — as he is quick to note — Rep. Don Young has successfully shepherded such bills through the House 12 times before, only to see them falter time and again before becoming law.

Only once has a bill opening ANWR reached a president’s desk, and it was vetoed by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

ConocoPhillips announces big find on North Slope

ConocoPhillips has a new 300 million-barrel oil discovery in the federal National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the company’s Alaska President Joe Marushack said Friday morning.

The Willow discovery, as the company has dubbed it, is the result of two exploration wells drilled within the Greater Mooses Tooth Unit about 28 miles west of ConocoPhillips’ central Alpine field facilities last winter.

While still an early stage find, Willow could produce up to 100,000 barrels per day of light oil, according to Marushack.

Silver, gold production steady in Southeast

The metal mines of Southeast Alaska had consistent and positive production in 2016, according to year-end results released by the operating companies.

Hecla Mining Co. reported Jan. 10 that its Greens Creek underground, primarily silver mine on Admiralty Island west of Juneau produced 9.3 million ounces of silver during the year, the highest production level since the company took full ownership of the mine in 2008.

State, Doyon, miners opposed to Eastern Interior plan

The State of Alaska and mining proponents are once again at odds with Bureau of Land Management; this time the dispute is over the agency’s updated plan to manage 6.5 million acres of federal lands in Eastern Alaska.

On Jan. 5 BLM released the decision documents to its Eastern Interior Resource Management Plan that would keep approximately 4.8 million federal acres off-limits to development, namely mining in the region known for gold production.

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