Elwood Brehmer

Legislators on all sides concerned about receipt authority for AGDC

Gov. Bill Walker’s administration is not asking for more state funding to advance the $43 billion Alaska LNG Project, but some legislators are concerned allowing the gasline developers to accept outside money could sign away much of their remaining control over the project.

Included in the governor’s 2019 fiscal year budget proposal is language giving the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. the authority to accept third-party funds from potential Alaska LNG investors. The provision would cover the remaining months of fiscal year 2018, which ends June 30, and fiscal year 2019.

Southcentral community leaders want in on AKLNG site selection studies

Nearly five years after Nikiski was chosen as the terminus for the $43 billion Alaska LNG Project, the leaders of other Southcentral communities are now questioning the process behind that decision.

On Jan. 9, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough sought intervener status in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s drafting of an environmental impact statement, or EIS, for the Alaska LNG Project.

Oil legislation could come off the back burner in a budget deal

Bills to raise oil taxes and pay off the state’s $800 million refundable tax credit obligation have stalled for weeks but legislators say both could be part of what is sure to be a strenuous lift at the end of a session in which the festering $2.5 billion annual deficits are coming to a head.

House Resources Committee co-chair Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, said during a Majority Coalition press briefing that House Bill 288, which would raise the minimum production tax, could be part of a package of legislation to settle end-of-session negotiations with the Republican Senate.

Revenue forecast up on oil prices, but production short of forecast

Income will be up but oil production will be down, according to the state’s Spring Revenue Forecast released March 16.

Department of Revenue officials project the State of Alaska will take in roughly $2.3 billion in unrestricted General Fund revenue during the current 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, which would be an increase of $256 million and $212 million per year, respectively, from the financial forecast issued last fall.

A new state fiscal year starts each July 1.

As habitat initiative debate swirls, ADFG outlines current best practices

The Alaska Supreme Court will still have its say, but there’s a good chance voters will be asked whether or not the state should overhaul its permitting regime for construction projects impacting salmon habitat.

It’s the latest battle in the ongoing debate over how far the state should go to protect its prized fish resources while at the same time promoting development of the state’s renowned petroleum and mineral resources.

Interior leaders talk progress on priorities after year under Trump

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke introduced himself and his department’s priorities to Alaskans in person last May when he said the state is a lynchpin to achieving American energy dominance.

Deputy Interior Secretary Dave Bernhardt and Assistant Secretary Joe Balash, a former Alaska Natural Resources commissioner, were back in Anchorage March 8 to report on the progress of Interior’s work during the first year of the Trump administration.

FERC sets December 2019 deadline for AK LNG review

Federal officials analyzing the plans for the Alaska LNG Project issued a timeline March 12 that would extend the review about a year beyond what state officials were hoping for.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Secretary Kimberly Bose signed off on the environmental impact statement schedule that calls for the agency to issue a Notice of Availability for the final Alaska LNG Project EIS by Dec. 9, 2019. The subsequent record of decision would then be made by March 8, 2020, within the required 90-day period after the final EIS is published.

Feds change course, pick Alaska’s choice for Sterling Hwy re-route

There finally appears to be a resolution to the saga over how best to avoid Cooper Landing.

Gov. Bill Walker was joined Wednesday in the Capitol by Kenai Peninsula legislators Sen. Peter Micciche and Rep. Gary Knopp, to watch DOT Commissioner Marc Luiken and Alaska Federal Highway Administration head Sandra Garcia-Aline sign a final environmental impact statement for the Cooper Landing bypass project and bring the project one big step closer to reality.

Oil sector leads construction spending rebound

The last couple years have been tough for Alaska contractors.

While it took about two years to really be felt as money on large multi-year and preplanned projects continued to be spent, the precipitous fall of oil prices in late 2014 led to construction spending declines of 18 percent in 2016 and 10 percent in 2017 year-over-year.

Not only did the price collapse hit contractors working in the state’s oil fields, but state capital spending has all-but disappeared since the oil revenues the State of Alaska relies on dried up as well.

LNG tank construction a sign of progress for Interior gas project

Backhoes are back digging in south Fairbanks as construction work is again underway on the Interior Energy Project.

Ground-turning work on the effort to expand the natural gas supply to the region had been on hold since the summer of 2015 as IEP leaders looked revise the scope of the project in the face of challenging economics brought on by lower oil prices. The last physical work on the project involved laying gas distribution lines in North Pole and Fairbanks.

Walker puts out call to join trade mission to China

Who wants to take a trip with the governor?

At a March 5 press conference in Anchorage, Gov. Bill Walker said his office is looking for business leaders interested in participating in a trade mission to China this spring.

The weeklong business trip, scheduled for May 19-26, is the governor’s attempt to continue building off of a stop in Anchorage last April by China President Xi Jinping and Chinese cabinet officials.

House budget slashes credits, inflation-proofing, adds $19M for UA

The House is getting ready to vote on the operating budget and three perennially contentious issues were addressed in Finance Committee amendments to Gov. Bill Walker’s budget proposal.

The House Finance Committee spent much of Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 debating amendments to Walker’s $4.5 billion 2019 fiscal year operating budget proposal.

Finance co-chair Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, said public testimony on the House version of the budget would be taken March 1-3 and the budget would move to the floor for a vote by the middle of the month.

Cost estimate drops for Ambler mining prospect

The company that has led exploration in the Ambler mining district is now shifting to develop its primary prospect after many years of work.

Trilogy Metals released a pre-feasibility study for its project at the Arctic prospect in Northwest Alaska with a higher initial capital estimates cost but a lower overall cost Feb. 20.

Formerly NovaCopper Inc., Vancouver-based Trilogy Metals changed its name in 2016 to reflect the multi-metal deposits the company holds.

Senate committee takes up Walker’s bill to retire oil tax credits

Gov. Bill Walker’s plan to clear the state’s books of nearly $1 billion in oil industry tax credits is generating a lot of interest but also plenty of “what ifs.”

The Senate Resources Committee took up Senate Bill 176, which would have the state sell bonds to pay off the credits, for the first time Feb. 21.

Administration officials characterized the proposal as a cost-neutral way to pay off the credits immediately while hopefully spurring industry activity and at least partially restoring the state’s business credibility.

Modular processing facilities aimed at small Slope fields

North Slope oil has historically been a game of making big discoveries needed to justify big development costs, but a team of NANA WorleyParsons engineers is trying to rewrite that playbook.

Kairos LLC, a subsidiary of NANA WorleyParsons, has developed what company leaders believe could turn small or otherwise marginal North Slope oil finds into productive members of the state economy.

Kairos is a Greek term for “a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action,” according to Merriam-Webster.

Young, Murkowski talk immigration, infrastructure, Tongass and pot

The Presidents’ Day recess in Congress gave the Journal an opportunity to sit down with two-thirds of Alaska’s congressional delegation.

Rep. Don Young stressed the need to update the nation’s infrastructure, from bridges to icebreakers, and the means to pay for it during a Feb. 19 interview at the Journal office.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski highlighted her ongoing efforts to repeal the Roadless Rule in the state as a way to provide Southeast communities with more economic options.

State gets incomplete grade from FERC

While Alaska Gasline Development Corp. officials often tout the reams-worth of documents they’ve submitted to federal regulators for the Alaska LNG Project, those regulators responded with a letter Feb. 15 contending the state agency has refused to send information imperative to analyzing the $43 billion megaproject.

FERC says gasline filings still incomplete

While Alaska Gasline Development Corp. officials often tout the reams-worth of study documents they’ve submitted to federal regulators on the Alaska LNG Project, those regulators responded with a letter Thursday contending the state agency has refused to send information imperative to analyzing the $43 billion megaproject.

Optimism for 90-day session begins to fade

The optimism that this year would be different than the previous three is starting to wear off just four weeks into the legislative session.

Most legislators are still saying, at least publicly, that they are confident this year’s work can be done in 90 days and not drag into June or July as has become the norm during the continuous political battle over how to fix the state’s multibillion-dollar deficits.

House committee approves increase in spill penalties

Legislation to increase penalties for fuel and oil spills is on the move in the House.

The House Resources Committee sent House Bill 322 to the Finance Committee Feb. 12 for consideration.

The bill, drafted primarily by Resources co-chair Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, would double most penalties the Department of Environmental Conservation can levy against spillers of oil, fuels and other hazardous substances including vessel waste water.


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