Halibut quota up 2.3 percent overall, dips for Central Gulf

The International Pacific Halibut Commission raised halibut quota for the second time in as many years, adding a glimmer of hope to a fishery troubled by stock declines and political squabbles.

Overall, the commission raised the Pacific halibut catch limits in all except one region: the Central Gulf of Alaska, also known as Area 3A. In particular, it gave a much-welcomed boost to the Central Bering Sea – from where the commission’s newest member hails and holds commercial halibut quota.

BlueCrest: Credits an investment, not a cost

KENAI — BlueCrest Energy President and CEO Benjamin Johnson urged the public to contact the Legislature and ask them not to make any changes to the oil and gas tax credit program until 2017.

Hilcorp still ready to buy assets as it looks to cost control

KENAI — As other oil and gas companies seek to trim expenses with layoffs and stalling development, Hilcorp Alaska has no plans to stop acquisitions.

The company will continue to buy properties in Alaska, said Chad Helgeson, the Kenai area operations manager, in an update to the public at the annual Industry Outlook Forum in Kenai on Jan. 28.

“Hilcorp is a growth company, acquisition-based,” Helgeson said. “That’s been our model.”

BP reports 91 percent fall in fourth quarter earnings

LONDON (AP) — BP’s fourth-quarter earnings plunged 91 percent amid sharp declines in oil prices as the British energy company continued to make provision for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and streamline operations.

The company reported Feb. 2 that underlying replacement cost profit fell to $196 million from $2.2 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. The figure is an oil industry accounting standard that includes fluctuations in the price of oil and excludes one-time items.

ExxonMobil’s 4Q and annual profit drop to 2002 level

DALLAS (AP) — The big plunge in crude prices is taking a toll on Big Oil.

Exxon Mobil Corp. said Feb. 2 that fourth-quarter profit fell 58 percent to $2.78 billion.

It was the oil giant’s smallest profit since the third quarter of 2002.

Exxon’s core exploration and production business lost money in the U.S. and international earnings plummeted by nearly two-thirds. One of the few bright spots, Exxon’s refining operation, was more profitable than a year ago. That helped Exxon avoid the fate of rival Chevron Corp., which lost money in the fourth quarter.

As the rest of the world dumps Chinese stocks, some wade in

NEW YORK (AP) — While the rest of the world scrambles to get out of the crumbling Chinese stock market, a trickle of investors is heading straight into the wreckage.

Managers of Chinese stock mutual funds have seen huge drops many times before, and they even find things to like about them. Instead of taking cover, and preserving cash in their portfolios, this time these managers say they are buying stocks of companies set to take advantage of how the Chinese government is reshaping the economy.

Investors stay steady on retirement savings

Panic is so passé.

Investors are keeping their cool — and keeping their hands off of their retirement accounts — despite huge swings in the stock market that sent it careening to its worst start to a year ever.

“They are just plugging away through the ups and downs of the stock market,” said Sarah Holden, director of retirement and investor research at the Investment Company Institute, an association of regulated funds.

Movers and Shakers 2/07/16

Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council Director of Programs Donna Schantz has been promoted to the position of executive director. Schantz replaces Mark Swanson, who retired from the council last November. Since then, Schantz has served as acting executive director. Schantz joined the council staff in 1999 and has served as director of programs since 2001. She is a graduate of Providence College in Rhode Island with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

FDA bans GE salmon imports

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration forbade all genetically engineered salmon from entering the U.S. marketplace on Jan. 29. The ban applies only to fiscal year 2016.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been pushing for labeling requirement for genetically engineered salmon, even threatening to withhold the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf as chief until something is done. She said in a release she hopes the FDA’s import ban is a harbinger for action.

Walker bills would shift tax credits to development loans

After more than six months of speculation, Alaska got its first look at Gov. Bill Walker’s solution for what he calls an “unsustainable” oil and gas industry incentive program Jan. 19 when Senate bills 129 and 130 were read for the first time on the Senate floor.

Walker jumpstarted the oil and gas tax credit debate last June when he nixed $200 million in credit payments from state operating budget before signing it.

Miller, SEC settle for $5M fine; assets overvalued by $400M

KENAI — The U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission has reached a $5 million settlement with Miller Energy Resources after the company inflated the value of its Alaska assets.

The settlement, reached Jan. 12, concluded the SEC’s investigation into the oil and gas company, the parent company of Cook Inlet Energy.

The SEC charged the company, two former executives, and one of its former accountants with fraudulently inflating the values of the company’s Alaska oil and gas properties by more than $400 million.

S&P finds Alaska with ‘unique exposure’ to oil prices

Standard and Poor’s Rating Services took a look at what makes some oil states’ futures look bleaker than others. The hardest-hit states forecasted oil prices too optimistically, tied too much state income to oil revenues, or didn’t save enough from the good old days when prices were high and state coffers were fat.

S&P analyzed eight states: Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming. Of the eight, S&P rated Alaska, Louisiana, and New Mexico has having negative credit outlooks.

Interior Energy Project decisions moved back again, to Feb.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority should have its new Interior Energy Project partner in place by the end of February, according to project leaders.

A partner recommendation can be expected the second week of February, IEP manager Bob Shefchik said in an interview, with a special AIDEA board meeting to be held later in the month to take formal action on the staff recommendation.

The time between the announcement and the board meeting will allow the AIDEA board and the public to scrutinize the IEP team’s recommendation, Shefchik said.

Legislature gets first update on pros, cons of AK LNG Project

Legislators got their first briefing of the session on the Alaska LNG Project on Jan. 25 direct from the project’s lead manager, ExxonMobil’s Steve Butt.

In presentations to the House and Senate Resource committees, Butt implored legislators to view themselves as the board of directors for the state, as a 25 percent owner of the $45 billion to $65 billion prospective development.

“We view ourselves as kind of a project organizer evaluating technical and economic viability of the AK LNG Project; does it make sense to the investors?” he said to House Resource members.

Administrators favor scrapping new standardized tests

JUNEAU — After almost four years of preparation and planning, plus millions of dollars in implementation, Alaska’s new standardized testing scheme appears bound for the garbage can less than two months before students take it the second time.

EDITORIAL: US tax policy keeps sending companies overseas

Here we go again. A major U.S. company merges with a foreign firm in part to avoid America’s punishing corporate tax code, and the politicians who refuse to reform the code denounce the company for trying to stay competitive. The gullible in the media then dutifully play along. Sigh.

Let’s try to explain one more time why it makes perfect business — and moral — sense for Johnson Controls to merge with Tyco, as it announced Jan. 25 it would do.

FISH FACTOR: Fisheries battle budget cuts and new taxes in Legislature

A single chinook salmon is worth more than a barrel of oil.

The winter kings being caught by Southeast Alaska trollers are averaging 10 pounds each with a dock price of $7.34 a pound, according to state fish tickets. That adds up to $73.40 per fish, compared to $26 per barrel of oil.

Those who depend on fishing for their livelihoods want to make sure that budget cuts combined with any new fishery taxes don’t cut core services that result in missed fishing opportunities.

EYE ON WALL STREET: 2015 market wrap-up and what to expect in the new year

The big stories in 2015 were the plunge in commodity prices to a 16-year low, turbulence in China, and coming monetary policy “divergence” which contributed to strength in the U.S. dollar. These factors took their toll on various asset classes (global stocks saw their first annual decline since 2011) and market sectors (especially energy).

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Some takeaways from the International Builders Show

One-hundred-twenty Alaskans made the trek to the International Builders Show in Las Vegas last week, along with over 100,000 other builders, developers, remodelers, bankers, economists, suppliers, and a potty mouth Jay Leno, who opened the show.

Three years ago, the IBS merged with the Kitchen and Bath Show and the Design/Build Week, creating the largest trade show in the U.S. In addition to the Alaskans, there were builders and developers from China, South Korea, and Europe.

IG: Anchorage among airports with too few traffic controllers

WASHINGTON (AP) — There are too few fully qualified controllers at more than a dozen of the nation’s busiest air traffic facilities stretching from Atlanta to Anchorage, according to report released Jan. 26 by a government watchdog.

The 13 airport towers, approach control facilities and en route centers have fewer fully trained controllers than the minimum number established by the Federal Aviation Administration specifically for each facility, Transportation Department’s inspector general said.


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