GUEST COMMENTARY: Investments keep Southcentral out of the cold
Alaskans have long recognized the importance of Cook Inlet producers and the energy and economic opportunities they create. With ongoing investments, the region has flourished and southcentral Alaska’s energy production has reached new heights.
Energy development in Alaska, and across the Cook Inlet is a big reason why the Alaska Support Industry Alliance exists today. Our members understand the necessity of safe and environmentally sensitive development and know the importance of accessibility to affordable Alaskan energy sources.
Natural gas production in Cook Inlet provides heat and electricity to over 80 percent of the Southcentral region. Many Alaskans, myself included, remember just a few years back when the threat of brownouts was a great concern for everyone in Anchorage.
Fortunately, through a coordinated effort of the legislature, the utilities and the producers the threat was eliminated. In contrast, southcentral Alaska now has a valuable supply of energy today, which can be attributed directly to the investments made in the last few years.
Production in Cook Inlet has risen dramatically since 2010, with 75 new oil and gas wells drilled. This increase has brought numerous benefits to the region and its people. Benefits such as affordable energy and regional infrastructure can all be directly attributed to producers entering and conducting exploration projects in Cook Inlet.
These projects have led to added investments such as refinery and port infrastructure that continue to add value to Alaska and its economy. Additionally, many Cook Inlet producers are smaller or independent operators who have weathered the oil price downturn when others had to stall their investments. The companies remaining in Cook Inlet deserve recognition for the jobs and revenue their responsible development continues to provide.
Sadly, environmental groups seek to mischaracterize these producers and downplay their investments in an attempt to emphasize their own agenda. Such is the case occurring right now with attacks on Hilcorp Alaska’s operations.
The company recently discovered and quickly reported two small unrelated leaks in their Cook Inlet operations. One has been assessed at less than three gallons of oil, an amount too small to allow for response equipment use. Activists groups, however, do not focus on the company’s quick response or their past contributions to Alaska. Instead, they turn the story into a rallying cry for why all offshore drilling should be banned. Opportunism at its worst.
Hilcorp Alaska has been the largest operator in Cook Inlet since they acquired Chevron’s platforms and associated infrastructure. Obviously it would be a major blow to our communities and the state if those investments were never made.
Communities in Alaska and the members of the Alliance rely on the investments energy companies bring to the state. From communications, to finance, to oilfield services, our members constantly receive new business from Cook Inlet operations. These operators also hire our members as contractors, providing vital jobs and tax dollars to the region.
The Alliance is proud of the new heights energy producers in Cook Inlet have reached in the last few decades. Discounting these achievements based on minor incidents is unproductive and damaging to the economic future of the state.
Outside activists should first speak with the companies who support these Cook Inlet producers on a daily basis to hear their testaments before issuing ridiculous press releases disparaging Alaska’s top industry. If they did so, they might realize the value of these producers who keep the lights on in Southcentral Alaska.
Rebecca Logan is the president of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance.