Alaska Journal of Commerce

Tesoro acquires Flint Hills marketing operation

Tesoro will acquire Flint Hills Resources’ fuels marketing and logistics facilities in Alaska, the company announced Nov. 23. The Interior Alaska refinery closed by Flint Hills in April 2014 is not included in the transaction.

Tesoro operates a refinery at Nikiski, on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska.

“This investment represents our commitment to efficiently and reliably serve customers in the state of Alaska, said Tesoro CEO Greg Goff in a statement.

Anchorage port contractor claims no liability in failed project

A key subcontractor in Anchorage’s failed port expansion project wants out of a lawsuit first filed by the Municipality of Anchorage because it claims the city has no jurisdiction to recover lost money.

Attorneys for Quality Asphalt and Paving, the contractor that led construction work at the Port of Anchorage in the late 2000s, argued in U.S. District Court of Alaska Nov. 20 that QAP already settled claims related to the project with Integrated Concepts and Research Corp., or ICRC.

Independent power producers cheer RCA rules revisions

Alaska’s independent power producers are claiming victory over regulatory changes that they say will encourage investment in renewable energy projects.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska on Nov. 20 finalized revisions to state regulations pertaining to how electric utilities calculate their cost of power and mandating them to purchase power from economically viable third-party sources.

Alaska USA leads a strong third quarter for CUs

Alaska’s six biggest credit unions had another beefy quarter, on average, though delinquent loans and foreclosures cut into the bottom line for an unlucky few.

Overall, the six largest credit unions increased their collective net income 39 percent compared to last year to $52.7 million, up from $38 million. Total assets grew 10 percent year-over-year, topping $8.5 billion. Each financial institution grew its loan portfolio, for a total $6.4 billion.

ConocoPhillips only successful bidder at federal lease sale

In contrast to a state areawide lease sale held the same day, bidding was very light at a federal U.S. Bureau of Land Management sale in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Nov. 18.

NPR-A is the large federal reserve west of state lands on the North Slope,.

Only six bids were submitted for six tracts, all by ConocoPhillips. The acreage bid on was adjacent to leases already held by ConocoPhillips and Anadarko Petroleum, a minority partner.

Bristol Bay permit stacking, plan revisions on board agenda

The Alaska Board of Fisheries will hold its last meeting of 2015 from Dec. 2-8 in Anchorage to discuss changes to the management of Bristol Bay finfish, largely sockeye salmon, the region’s largest moneymaker.

The board has 70 proposals to consider, the bulk of which concern permit stacking for commercial fishermen and amending district management plans, boundaries, and permit requirements.

Schedule slipping on pre-FEED work, critical agreements

State officials say they are worried that the schedule for the big Alaska LNG Project could slip because of delays by North Slope producers in reaching key agreements.

However, the state itself is contributing to some of the delay, as well as part of the cost increase of the pre-front end engineering and design, or pre-FEED, sources familiar with the project say. 

Gov. Bill Walker had hoped to have the agreements earlier this fall in time for legislative approval in a special session of the Legislature held in late October, but that did not happen.

Lengthy to-do list remains for Alaska LNG negotiators

There is a long list of commercial issues yet to be resolved in the Alaska LNG Project negotiations but many of these may be combined, so the number of agreements, in the form of contracts, is yet to be determined, sources familiar with the negotiations have told the Journal.

At the top of the list are four items important to the state of Alaska, two of which Gov. Bill Walker hopes to see resolved by early December. They are:

Confidentiality regs get pushback from producers, AGDC

Who can see, and say, what has become a contentious issue as the Alaska LNG Project moves toward some key milestones.

The state’s partners in the $45 billion-plus North Slope liquefied natural gas pipeline project, the Alaska Support Industry Alliance and Alaska Gasline Development Corp. leaders have all taken positions against draft regulations that would make public the contracts the state enters related to the project.

The Alliance is a trade association that represents about 500 businesses that work in the state’s oil and gas and mining industries.

Kenai mayors offer $60K to lure Cook Inlet board meeting

If Alaska fishermen want coffee at the 2017 Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting, the Alaska Board of Fisheries might have to change the location to the Kenai Peninsula.

In a Nov. 16 letter to the Board of Fisheries, Kenai Peninsula Borough and City of Kenai mayors Mike Navarre and Pat Porter, and Soldotna Mayor Pete Sprague offered the board over $60,000 in service savings if the board were to hold its 2017 Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting on the Peninsula instead of Anchorage.

Administration will introduce bill to convert Fund earnings

The slide in crude oil prices is continuing, and transforming Alaska’s state finances to revenue sources more predictable and sustainable than oil income has taken on more urgency.

Year-to-date prices for North Slope crude oil were at an average of $49.98 per barrel as of Nov. 17. That’s since July 1, the start the current fiscal year, and it is $16 per barrel less than the price of $66.03 per barrel predicted by the state last March and used as the basis for budget planning.

Ferry system braces for cuts; state funds down 15% since ‘14

“There is no money, so our approach should not be ‘How do we get more money?’” Marine Transportation Advisory Board chair Robert Venables said. “While there may not be money, there are solutions.”

Venables’ remark, which opened the Nov. 16 Marine Transportation Advisory Board, or MTAB, meeting, was specific to the Alaska Marine Highway System but could have been directed to countless state functions.

Huge Inlet, Bay sockeye forecasts in face of price slump

Next year promises to be a big year for sockeye harvests. Both Bristol Bay and Upper Cook Inlet are forecast to have sizable sockeye returns in the midst of global and domestic market hostile to U.S. higher sockeye prices detailed in a new economic report.

 In Cook Inlet, the second-largest sockeye producing region in the United States’

largest seafood producing state, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecasts a run to the major rivers of 7.1 million salmon, with 4.1 million available for commercial harvest.

Statoil quits the Alaska Arctic OCS, following Shell’s exit

Norway-based Statoil has quit its Alaska Arctic program in the Chukchi Sea, becoming the second company to officially withdraw from the region. 

ConocoPhillips, the remaining holdout among the Chukchi Sea explorers, has not indicated its intentions but said the company’s Arctic offshore plans had been on hold for some time.

Earlier this fall Shell announced disappointing results on Chukchi Sea drilling and said it would end its program.

ConocoPhillips greenlights $900M Greater Moose’s Tooth-1

It was an announcement that lifted spirits at the annual Resource Development Council conference on Nov. 18.

ConocoPhillips Alaska President Joe Marushack said his company will proceed with construction of its Greater Moose’s Tooth No. 1 oil project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

“GMT-1 has been approved for funding. It is expected to cost about $900 million and follows our recent completion of CD-5,” which is also in the NPR-A, Marushack said.

Independents win big acreages in state North Slope lease sale

Some people in industry still have a lot of faith in the North Slope, even with crude oil prices skidding.

Independent companies bid aggressively for acreage Dec. 18 in the state’s North Slope “area-wide” sale, acquiring acreage at rock-bottom prices.

The bulk of the offers were rock-bottom bids but with the exception of two high bids by Denver-based Armstrong Oil and Gas on tracts near a discovery Armstrong plans to develop with Repsol. Armstrong beat out competing bids by ConocoPhillips, in fact.

Current LNG buyers’ market not dooming AK LNG Project

It is a good time to be an LNG buyer on the global market.

Long-term contracts with Asian buyers — the prospective market for the Alaska LNG Project — are almost exclusively tied to the price of oil through an energy equivalent formula.

While a flooded oil market has helped liquefied natural gas buyers dependant on its price, there is simply a lot of LNG right now, too.

“Today’s global LNG market is dreadful,” Kenai Peninsula Borough Oil and Gas Special Assistant Larry Persily said in an interview. “It’s just like oil; it’s way oversupplied.”

Resource heavyweights gather at momentous time for Alaska

It’s November, and time for the big Resource Development Council annual conference. This year, more than any other, huge issues loom for Alaskans including the proposed $50-billion plus North Slope gas pipeline and liquefied gas project and the state’s fiscal troubles, with $3 billion-plus annual deficits.

All will be discussed at the conference.

Pebble conflict moves to Capitol Hill following latest report

The fight over the proposed Pebble mine at times makes politics look tame.

That impassioned battle resumed on Capitol Hill Nov. 5 when the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology heard from those on the front lines of both sides. The committee also received testimony from former Maine senator and Defense Secretary William Cohen, whose recently published report about the Environmental Protection Agency’s involvement in the matter has once again made Pebble a topic of national debate.

Final Interior gas decision by AIDEA approaches

FAIRBANKS — Interior Energy Project pitches were made to the Fairbanks public Nov. 4; now it’s up to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to pick the right project partner.

IEP manager Bob Shefchik said he feels both goals of the meeting were accomplished: sharing the proposals from the project finalists with the community they hope to serve with natural gas, and verifying with the community that the process to select a viable private partner is moving forward.

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