Elwood Brehmer

Oil prospect gets even bigger

The Icewine oil prospect on the southern North Slope keeps growing.

Australia-based 88 Energy Ltd. said in an Oct. 18 release that it has identified five conventional “leads” on its Slope leases that could hold 758 million barrels of recoverable oil.

The mean resource estimate is based on seismic data acquired this year and last, according to the company release.

88 Energy is the majority owner in the Icewine project, a continuous tract of 271,000 acres of state leases about 35 miles south of Deadhorse bisected by the Dalton Highway.

Lindbeck and Young find agreement at candidate forum

There was much consensus and a surprising lack of contention during a U.S. House of Representatives candidate forum put on by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Oct. 17.

Democrat candidate Steve Lindbeck, a former Anchorage newspaper journalist and recently the general manager of Alaska Public Media, did not pursue threads critical of longtime incumbent Republican Rep. Don Young that his campaign has highlighted in TV spots and news releases.

U.S. State Dept has interest in upstream Canadian mining projects

The U.S. State Department has taken a positive step to recognize the concerns some Alaskans have with upstream Canadian mining projects, but the issue is far from resolved, according to the members of Alaska’s congressional delegation.

Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield wrote in an Oct. 6 letter to the delegation that the State Department is actively engaged with Canadian officials to protect the watersheds that bisect the U.S.-Canada border along Southeast Alaska.

State moves to sell pension bonds despite S&P warning

The State of Alaska is continuing the process to sell up to $3.3 billion in pension obligation bonds after receiving mixed reviews from the major credit rating agencies.

On Oct. 7, S&P Global Ratings placed the state on CreditWatch with negative implications and rated the state’s appropriation-backed bonds, such as the pension bonds, as AA-.

Anchorage LIO building claim is rejected

State Sen. Gary Stevens officially washed his hands of the political mess that is the Downtown Anchorage legislative information office building on Oct. 6 when he denied a $37 million contract claim from the building owner group.

Acting as a state procurement officer in his role as Legislative Council chair, Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, cited a litany of reasons in a 21-page decision document as to why the Legislature is not liable for walking away from its 10-year, $33 million lease on the six-story office building.

S&P puts Alaska back on CreditWatch negative

The State of Alaska is continuing the process to sell up to $3.3 billion in pension obligation bonds after receiving mixed reviews from the major credit rating agencies.

On Friday, S&P Global Ratings placed the state on CreditWatch with negative implications and rated the state’s appropriation-backed bonds, such as the pension bonds, as AA-.

The agency indicated in a brief that it would likely lower the state’s general obligation credit rating from AA+ to AA if the bonds were sold.

ConocoPhillips adding long range Doyon rig

At least in Alaska, ConocoPhillips keeps spending.

The major North Slope producer announced Thursday that it has contracted with Doyon Drilling Inc. to build a new drill rig that is scheduled to be put into service in 2020.

The extended reached drilling, or ERD, rig will be capable of drilling wells more than 33,000 feet — that’s 6.25 miles, according to the company. ConocoPhillips’ current rigs have a drill reach of about 22,000 feet. The extended reach rig is the third new drill rig the producer has contracted for since 2013.

North Slope producers in talks with state

The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. is in talks with the North Slope producers to obtain rights to key parts of the Alaska LNG Project, but what, if anything, it will end up costing the state remains unclear.

To advance a state-led project, AGDC needs to take control of the U.S. Department of Energy export authorizations for the Alaska LNG Project, as well as the 600-plus acres the companies purchased near Nikiski for the LNG plant and marine terminal sites.

Mat-Su senator files bill to pay vetoed PFD

Mat-Su Republican Sen. Mike Dunleavy stood outside an Anchorage grocery store Wednesday afternoon to announce he is pre-filing a bill to restore half of the Permanent Fund Dividend appropriation that Gov. Bill Walker vetoed in June.

The informal press briefing, held on the sidewalk in front of the East Anchorage Fred Meyer store on Debarr Road, a day before the state will start distributing the annual PFD check, was also attended by shoppers passing by.

Rents for major airports take a big jump

Lease rates are about to double at the Anchorage airport, but state officials insist the rent hike is an attempt to resolve a complex issue and not simply a money grab.

On Jan. 1, the cost to lease land for an aeronautical use at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport will go from 9 cents to 18 cents per square foot per year.

Similarly, space leased for auxiliary use — activities and business supporting flight services such as air freight forwarding or passenger ground transportation — will go from 12 cents to 24 cents per square foot per year.

State seeks to sell billions in pension bonds

Alaska’s financiers will likely know by Oct. 6 if they have cleared the first hurdle to borrow up to $3.3 billion in an effort to stabilize growing annual payments to the state’s retirement funds.

State of Alaska Debt Manager Deven Mitchell said in an interview Oct. 4, while on a trip to market the pension obligation bonds in question, that the state had received indications from two of the three ratings agencies as to how they viewed the plan by Gov. Bill Walker’s administration to potentially sell $3.3 billion in pension obligation bonds during the last week of October.

The 6 billion barrel oil discovery

Caelus Energy announced Tuesday that it is sitting on 6 billion barrels of oil on the western North Slope, a prospect CEO Jim Musselman said he expects will continue to grow.

The prospect is Smith Bay, a remote inlet of state-owned water more than 100 miles west of current Slope infrastructure.

Musselman and the rest of the Dallas-based independent’s leadership team acknowledge development will not be easy, but if seen through to fruition it could produce up to 200,000 barrels per day.

AGDC’s Meyer recaps Asia marketing trip

A trip to Asia helped Gov. Bill Walker’s administration “set the record straight” on the status of the Alaska LNG Project and verify what it suspected of the future LNG market, Alaska Gasline Development Corp. President Keith Meyer said Thursday.

Murkowski presses Forest Service on delayed land swap

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is pushing legislation to resolve several outstanding land issues between the state and federal governments, including a Southeast timberland exchange that is nearly a decade in the making.

During a Sept. 22 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Murkowski pressed Forest Service Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon regarding the agency’s apparent lack of progress in advancing a land swap with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office that the trust first proposed in 2007.

Partners will drill at Icewine in 2017

Founder and CEO of Houston-based Burgundy Xploration Paul Basinski said he and his partner in the Icewine project, Australia-based 88 Energy Ltd., expect to drill an appraisal well early next year to delineate exactly what is underneath their southern Slope acreage.

Basinski, who spoke Sept. 20 to the Alaska Oil and Gas Congress in Anchorage, is confident in the initial results from Icewine No. 1, the first well the company’s drilled last fall.

“We’ve got the resource, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.

Armstrong aims to prove the Slope is still ‘target rich’

If all goes as planned, the upcoming North Slope drilling season could be the winter of Bill.

Bill Armstrong, CEO and founder of his namesake company Armstrong Energy LLC, and his team will be working to shore up estimates on what many believe to be one of the largest oil discoveries ever on the Slope.

Armstrong said in a Sept. 2 interview with the Journal that his company also has plans to be one of the only outfits to invest in exploration this winter: drilling two wells south of the company’s previous work in the Pikka Unit.

Exxon to expand Point Thomson under settlement terms

ExxonMobil is in the early planning stages to at least triple production from its Point Thomson natural gas facility.

Corporate spokesman Aaron Stryk wrote in a response to questions from the Journal that the company is progressing planning for “potential gas expansion concept” that would ultimately supply natural gas to the $45 billion-plus Alaska LNG Project.

Rules in place, UAS biz ready for takeoff

Small-scale unmanned aircraft are ready to become a fixture in U.S. airspace after a comprehensive set of rules from the Federal Aviation Administration governing the rapidly advancing technology took effect Aug. 29.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called the implementation of the FAA’s Part 107 rules “a great and momentous milestone” that secures the country’s place at the leading edge of transportation technology during a press conference that day.

Walker headed back to Japan in November for LNG conference

Gov. Bill Walker has plans for one overseas trip, but not two.

The governor is headed to the LNG Producer-Consumer Conference in Tokyo later this year. Originally scheduled for Nov. 30, the single-day meeting is now planned for Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day.

“Thanksgiving will be with chopsticks this year, which is fine. I’m happy with that,” Walker said in a Sept. 6 interview with the Journal.

Producers again reject Prudhoe demands

BP Exploration Alaska can’t market its Prudhoe Bay natural gas, and it hasn’t, company officials wrote in the revised plan of development for the North Slope field.

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