RDC conference features positives, challenges, plus BP and Hilcorp
Conference season is in full swing in Alaska and the annual gathering of the players in the state’s biggest industries is right around the corner.
The Alaska Resources Conference hosted by the Resource Development Council for Alaska is slightly later than normal this year. It will be held Nov. 20-21 at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage.
The conference will focus on Alaska’s oil and gas, mining and timber industries and the energy in those sectors is positive these days noted RDC Executive Director Marleanna Hall.
Alaska Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy has committed his administration to removing impediments to development across the state and at the federal level the Trump administration has largely done the same.
Under Trump, the Army Corps of Engineers in September finalized revisions to the scope of the hotly debated Waters of the U.S. Rule, changes which scale back the jurisdiction of the corps and the Environmental Protection Agency to require Clean Water Act permits for some development projects.
In mid-October, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the administration’s preference to fully exempt the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule, a change long sought by timber and mining advocates in the state.
Additionally, an oil and gas lease sale for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain is expected late this year or early next, marking the culmination of decades of effort to access the billions of barrels of oil estimated to reside there.
While those are all positive developments for those sectors, Hall said she expects to hear plenty from oil industry speakers talk about their biggest upcoming challenge.
“I think we’ll have a lot of messaging on why the oil tax initiative should be rejected again,” she said.
The sponsors of the Fair Share Act voter-driven initiative are currently gathering the signatures and support they need to get the measure — which aims to raise the state’s collective oil production tax revenue by approximately $1 billion per year — on the ballot in 2020.
Rex Rock, CEO of Arctic Slope Regional Corp., long an advocate for opening ANWR to oil exploration, will provide the keynote address Nov. 20.
Hall said she is particularly intrigued to hear from National Energy Laboratory Director Brian Anderson, who is scheduled to discuss ways to burn fossil fuels cleaner in an era of climate change later that day.
The last speakers of the first day, BP Alaska President Janet Weiss and Hilcorp’s Alaska head Dave Wilkins, will cover recent big news in Alaska circles, that being “the passing of the torch,” as Hall described it, of Prudhoe Bay from BP to Hilcorp next year.
The second day of the conference will start with talks about two potential megaprojects in the state, the $13 billion Alberta to Alaska railway and Qilak LNG’s recently proposed $5 billion North Slope offshore LNG export terminal.
It will conclude with a discussion about the Alaska Roadless Rule revision process by Forest Service officials and Southeast Conference Executive Director Robert Venables.
While the conference is largely attended by industry employers, Hall said RDC always encourages students to attend as well so they can gain insight into the industries they could join after graduation.
RDC offers free admission to full-time students for its public events. The student registration deadline for this year’s annual conference is Nov. 13. The agenda is at akrdc.org/conference.
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].