Elizabeth Earl

Peninsula support companies feel pinch of oil industry layoffs

KENAI — The round tables were fringed with people chatting leisurely and exchanging bits of news, like they were on lunch break.

A few feet away, two young men ignored the conversation and clicked away on desktop computers. Yet another group stood on the edges of the room, pacing and waiting, their heads snapping up when the front doors opened.

All heads turned as soon as Rachel O’Brien called for session participants, and all rose, shuffling slowly toward the back room of the Peninsula Job Center in unison. As soon as the door closed, the room fell silent.

Furie positions jack-up for drilling at Kitchen Lights Unit

KENAI — Residents and visitors to Nikiski might notice a new silhouette on the skyline of Cook Inlet as the Randolph Yost jack-up rig moves into the neighborhood.

The tall legs of the rig can be seen from the bluff in Nikiski.

The rig is situated in the Kitchen Lights Unit, leased by Furie Operating Alaska. Furie has brought the rig to Alaska specifically to drill additional gas wells, and is currently planning to drill up to two this year.

AOOS launches portal for Cook Inlet beluga whale data

KENAI — There’s a lot of research happening on Cook Inlet beluga whales at any given time. Unfortunately, a lot of the data has stayed isolated, held by the entities that collect it.

The Alaska Ocean Observing System, an organization that monitors ocean and coastal conditions, is trying to link some of the data with a new online portal called the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Ecosystem Portal. Varying information about the endangered whales, ranging from sightings to ocean conditions in their habitats, is presented in a map available to the public on AOOS’s website.

Federal commission questions Inlet permits over Belgua concerns

Proposed geotechnical work has raised concerns for the beluga whale habitat from the federal agency tasked with enforcing the act protecting marine mammals.

AK LNG summer fieldwork includes water tests at plant site

KENAI — The managers of the Alaska LNG Project are moving forward on field work planned for this summer, including water tests, offshore work and borehole drilling onshore in Nikiski.

With only one season left before the project will go to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval, the summer field work will be more limited in scale — about a third the scale of what it was in the summer of 2015, said Jeff Raun, project advisor for the Alaska LNG Project, during a community meeting on April 14 at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.

Cosmo drill permit filed as credits debated

KENAI — If it gets the state’s approval, BlueCrest Energy will switch its drilling operations from onshore directional drilling to an offshore jack-up rig.

The company’s Alaska arm, BlueCrest Operating Alaska, applied to the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas to change its operating plan, adding an extra well and changing its drilling method.

The company originally planned to drill three wells from its onshore facility near Anchor Point, drilling diagonally out into Cook Inlet to reach oil in its Cosmopolitan lease.

Hatcheries made up one-third of 2015 salmon harvest

KENAI — Though hatcheries are a major part of the commercial fishing industry statewide, they’ve remained a small portion of the harvest in Cook Inlet.

Fish from Alaska’s salmon hatcheries made up a third of the total commercial fishery harvest in 2015, mostly in pink and chum salmon. However, in Cook Inlet, hatchery fish made up less than 2 percent, according to a report from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

AK LNG pre-FEED work continues onshore and offshore

KENAI — More geophysical and technical work will take place in Nikiski this summer as preparation for the Alaska LNG Project.

The partners on the liquefied natural gas pipeline project — ConocoPhillips, BP, ExxonMobil and the state through the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. — are moving forward with fieldwork for the 2016 season. The fieldwork will be on a smaller scale than it was last year, but the partners want to finish the preliminary front-end engineering and design work, or pre-FEED, said Josselyn O’Connor, the Community Stakeholder Advisor for the project.

Larger expected king run loosens restrictions on setnets, drifters

Commercial fishermen in Upper Cook Inlet will be somewhat freer to fish at the outset of the 2016 season thanks to a larger projected king salmon run.

State reaches royalty oil deal with Tesoro

KENAI — The state is considering selling an additional 20,000 to 25,000 barrels per day of its royalty-in-kind oil to Tesoro Refining & Marketing Co. per day as a way to prop up its finances.

The state negotiates sales of the oil it collects from North Slope producers instead of taxes to the in-state refineries. Tesoro’s Nikiski refinery is one of three that produce commercial products in Alaska at present.

Cook Inlet seismic, exploration work underway

KENAI — Despite pessimistic oil and gas outlooks, two companies are conducting seismic data-gathering activities on the Kenai Peninsula this spring and another is planning more exploration work.

Hilcorp Alaska is planning to gather more seismic data on the oil and gas beneath the southern Kenai Peninsula, and SAExploration, a Houston, Texas-based oilfield services company, is gathering 2D and 3D seismic data on an area of the northern Kenai Peninsula near Nikiski. After April 1, Furie Operating Alaska plans to use a jack-up rig to drill new wells in its Kitchen Lights Unit.

Apache to shutter Alaska operations

Apache Corporation, which has been exploring oil and gas resources in the Cook Inlet area, announced Thursday that it will exit the state.

The Houston, Texas-based corporation has been exploring north of Nikiski since approximately 2010. Apache’s Alaska general manager, John Hendrix, informed the Legislature of the company’s decision.

Report: More imported gasoline drives up in-state price

The market for Alaska’s refineries is becoming even tougher with reduced demand and increased pressure to compete with imported fuels.

Though the state’s refineries are closer to markets in Alaska, reducing transportation costs, competitive pricing from refiners in Asia and the U.S. West Coast may challenge their businesses, according to a December 2015 report prepared for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. California-based Econ One Research, Inc., completed the report in response to a request from the Alaska Senate Finance Committee.

Nonresidents pass residents in individual guide permits

KENAI — The number of guides and guiding businesses in Alaska is staying stable but the percentage of nonresidents is still climbing.

Since the state saw a drop in guide participation in 2009, the numbers have stabilized, according to the 2014 license and logbook data published by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. In 2014, there were 1,805 licensed guides in Alaska and 132 licensed businesses, with 983 holding a combined license. The majority of licenses are in the Southcentral region.

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.”

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.

Miller Energy, SEC settle for $5M

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

The settlement, reached Jan. 12, will conclude 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.

ADFG reports show sportfishing may damage Kenai River

KENAI — The increasing numbers of bank anglers and powerboats on the Kenai River may be damaging the river habitat.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game released two long-delayed reports in October addressing the effect of bank angling and powerboat use on bank erosion in the Kenai River. The reports, covering the years 2000 and 2001, found that as more anglers fished the river, the more banks crumbled and vegetation disappeared.

AK LNG Project may bring more Kenai River traffic

KENAI — Managers are concerned that pressure on the Kenai River could increase if the Alaska LNG P

roject goes through.

The project is still tentative and will not receive a final ruling until 2018 at the earliest, but if it does go through, the borough could see an influx of as many as 5,000 workers for the five years it takes to construct the 900-acre plant in Nikiski. Unless the camp is closed, many of them will likely recreate on the Kenai River.

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