Elwood Brehmer

Optimism abounds in advance of annual RDC gathering

There is plenty for the players of Alaska’s extraction industries to be positive about and that should translate into a cheery Resource Development Council for Alaska conference.

The annual gathering for some of the state’s largest industries will be held Nov. 15-16 as it usually is at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Downtown Anchorage.

RDC for Alaska Executive Director Marleanna Hall said some of the good vibes are being sent all the way from Washington, D.C.

Search for new play leads Oil Search to Slope

The search for a new oil play took Keiran Wulff almost as far from his home as it could before he finally found what he was seeking.

The president of Sydney-based Oil Search Ltd. — a soon-to-be tenant on the North Slope — and Armstrong Energy CEO Bill Armstrong sat down with the Journal Nov. 6 in Downtown Anchorage to discuss their $850 million deal announced the week before.

Climate change vs. responsible development at Senate ANWR hearing

The U.S. Senate committee hearing held Thursday on the merits of opening part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the oil industry mostly featured rehashed arguments on both sides of the debate but also highlighted the some of the dichotomies and contradictions underlying the debate.

Alaska Air nets $266M while muddling through merger

Alaska Air Group Inc. leaders reported a third quarter net income of $266 million and record revenues in the third quarter during an Oct. 25 investor call despite continued operational challenges at their airlines.

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group’s airlines, Alaska, Virgin America and regional carrier Horizon Air, generated a record $2.12 billion in operating revenue during the quarter and netted pretax profits of $446 million for a pretax margin of 21 percent.

Armstrong sells major North Slope prospect

Despite holding one of the largest North Slope oil prospects, Armstrong Energy is cashing out some of its stake in Alaska.

Oil Search, a publicly traded company with operations in Papua New Guinea, announced Oct. 31 (Nov. 1 local date) that it has reached a $400 million deal with Armstrong Energy and GMT Exploration Co., a silent partner, to buy into the Pikka Unit and other Slope prospects.

AIDEA approves sale of LNG plant to Fairbanks gas utility

A comprehensive plan to get more natural gas to the Interior is halfway home.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority board of directors unanimously approved a $331.2 million financing plan authority leaders hope will enable the Interior Gas Utility to bring the Interior Energy Project to fruition.

Included in the deal is the sale of Fairbanks Natural Gas and its Titan LNG plant on Point MacKenzie in Southcentral for $59.5 million, as well as passing of the gas supply contract AIDEA secured in September with Cook Inlet producer Hilcorp Energy.

ConocoPhillips reports quarterly profit

ConocoPhillips is back in the black after posting a $420 million profit in the third quarter.

The positive results are just the second profitable quarter for the company since the start of 2016. ConocoPhillips netted $586 million in the first quarter of this year but reported a $3.4 billion loss in in the second quarter. For the year, the company is still $2.4 billion in the red.

ConocoPhillips reported just more than a $1 billion profit in the third quarter of 2016.

Regulators order review of all Slope wells

North Slope operators are trying to determine what the effects are of sweeping orders issued by state regulators in response to an investigation into an April oil well leak at Prudhoe Bay.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued emergency directives Oct. 30 to seven North Slope production and exploration companies ordering them to shut in all wells constructed similarly to a BP well that began spraying oil on April 14.

Armstrong sells Nanushuk prospect

Despite holding one of the largest North Slope oil prospects, Armstrong Energy is cashing out some of its stake in Alaska.

Oil Search, a publicly traded company based in Papua New Guinea, announced Oct. 31 (Nov. 1 local date) that it has reached a $400 million deal with Armstrong Energy and GMT Exploration Co., a silent partner, to buy into the Pikka Unit and other Slope prospects.

BLM announces largest-ever NPR-A lease sale

In keeping with the Trump administration’s energy policies the Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday that it will be putting more of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska up for bid than ever before in the agency’s annual fall lease sale.

According to a BLM Alaska release, oil and gas explorers will be able to bid on 900 tracts covering 10.3 million acres in the NPR-A before bids are opened Dec. 6 in Anchorage.

The largest NPR-A offering to-date was in 2004 when 5.8 million acres over 508 leasable tracts were made available.

State appeals habitat initiative ruling

The ballot initiative proposed to strengthen laws protecting salmon habitat is headed for a supreme resolution, which doesn’t bother the initiative’s primary sponsor.

On Oct. 20 the state Department of Law appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court to have a Superior Court ruling upholding the initiative on constitutional grounds overturned.

EPA designation for Yukon River complicates gasline plans

Alaska Gasline Development Corp. leaders are worried a special label the Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 office has placed on the Yukon River could challenge construction of both of their pipeline projects.

AGDC Senior Vice President Frank Richards said during the corporation’s Oct. 23 board meeting that the EPA has deemed the Yukon watershed an aquatic resource of national importance, or ARNI, as it relates to the in-state-focused Alaska Standalone Pipeline, or ASAP, and potentially the larger Alaska LNG Project.

ANWR fight far from finish line

Whether Congress opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling rigs could hinge on the fate of President Donald Trump’s tax plan.

The House and Senate have both passed budget resolutions that include provisions to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.

Zinc prices help NANA rebound from oil crash

Strong returns from the Red Dog mine are helping NANA Regional Corp. overcome oil and gas industry losses.

NANA CEO Wayne Westlake said in an interview that the Northwest Alaska zinc mine is outpacing production forecasts at a time when zinc prices are high.

The open-pit Red Dog mine sits about 90 miles north of Kotzebue, the largest community in the region.

NANA, the Alaska Native regional corporation for the area, owns the mine that is operated by Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd.

‘Bioblitz’ turns up no new non-native aquatics

WHITTIER — When on the hunt for invaders, no news is usually good news.

That’s exactly the kind of good news Smithsonian Environmental Research Center scientists were able to report to the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council after a summer-long search in 2016 for non-indigenous species in the waters around Valdez.

ExxonMobil stands by its Point Thomson plan of development

ExxonMobil Alaska leaders insist the company has complied with a 2012 settlement with the State of Alaska over the long-challenged $4 billion Point Thomson North Slope natural gas project and that current state regulators don’t understand the company’s future plans.

ExxonMobil Alaska Production Manager Cory Quarles wrote to Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack on Oct. 12 that the Point Thomson Unit plan of development the company submitted to the department’s Division of Oil and Gas on June 30 is sufficient, despite the division’s claims to the contrary.

Solving deficit in ‘revenue’ session challenged on multiple fronts

Alaska legislators will convene in Juneau Oct. 23 at the behest of Gov. Bill Walker but indications are their time together could be brief.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said his caucus will be in Juneau for the necessary formalities of the 30-day special session but will hold most of its committee meetings in Anchorage.

State still seeking major LNG customer by year-end

The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. won’t be asking for additional funding before the agency knows if it will build the roughly $40 billion Alaska LNG Project, corporation leaders told legislators Oct. 16.

ANWR authorization through budget would avoid filibuster

Republicans in Congress are angling to use the budget process as a means to opening part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development.

The House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution 71 on Oct. 5, which authorizes spending for the 2018 fiscal year and provides general recommendations on spending priorities through 2027. It includes language instructing the House Natural Resources Committee to find ways to generate at least $5 billion in new revenue over the next 10 years as a way to cut the annual deficit.

Judge overturns Mallott on salmon habitat proposal

Alaskans seeking more protections for the state’s salmon notched a victory Oct. 9 when a Superior Court ruling overturned Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s denial of a ballot initiative to overhaul permitting laws for projects in and around salmon-bearing waters.

Judge Mark Rindner wrote in a 20-page order that the salmon habitat initiative does not prescribe how countless miles of state rivers and wetlands be used, but rather simply regulates the quality of that water while it is in use.

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