Doyon Ltd. has stakes in most of Alaska's key industries
From oil drilling to catering, security, utilities, engineering services, minerals, oil and gas, utilities, tourism and more, Fairbanks-based Doyon Ltd. has a stake in them all.
Doyon is the Alaska Native regional corporation for Interior Alaska and is widely diversified, like many of the Native corporations formed by the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
Doyon seems in a class by itself, however. In sheer geography, it is the largest of the Native corporations, stretching across a vast area of Alaska’s Interior from the Canadian border in the east almost to Norton Sound in the west, and from the continental divides of the Brooks Range in the north to the Alaska Range in the south.
It has the biggest landholding of any of the Native corporations, at 12.5 million acres. This also makes Doyon one of the largest private landowners in North America.
The corporation is also solidly profitable. Both net and gross revenues are headed in the right direction - up. Phillips said he expects that profits and revenues will be up for the corporation’s most recent financial year when the final review of results is completed.
Because of its land ownership, Doyon has a huge stake in natural resources and, consequently, resource-based industries. Doyon Drilling Inc., for example, is one of the state’s leading oil drilling companies, operating eight highly sophisticated drill rigs on Alaska’s North Slope.
A ninth rig, designed to drill shallow heavy oil wells, will be added to Doyon Drilling’s rig fleet next year.
Doyon is one of the state’s major employers. Its companies employ about 3,000 people with 90 percent of these in Alaska.
The corporation has a number of new initiatives underway this year. One of the most significant is the startup of Doyon Utilities, a joint venture formed with local utility Fairbanks Water and Sewer to operate power plants and utilities on three U.S. Army installations in the state; at Fort Wainwright, Fort Richardson and Fort Greely.
“This is a 50-year contract with total revenues of $4 billion over its life, but it will wind up saving the military $800 million,” Phillips said.
Much of the savings will be in new efficiencies in the plants due to investments in upgrades the partners will make.
About $70 million is being invested in modernization this year, in the first life of the contract, Phillips said.
Doyon Universal Services LLC was awarded an extension of its contract with Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. to provide facility management, security and catering services. The company is also providing support this year for the Denali pipeline group, the natural gas pipeline initiative by BP and ConocoPhillips.
This is a long-standing joint venture between the regional corporation and Universal Services. The joint venture is now doing business outside Alaska, including at a Tesoro Petroleum refinery in Washington state. The joint venture hopes to use its oil and gas industry experience to pick up new business in the oil-producing states of Colorado and Wyoming.
Doyon Government Group, an 8(a) contracting company formed in 2003, has picked up support contracts on military bases in Washington state and Hawaii, and hopes to be working soon on similar contracts for other federal agencies. Many Native corporations have subsidiaries recognized as minority-owned contractors under section 8(a) of the federal small business assistance programs.
Two of Doyon’s technical services ventures, DoyonEmerald and Doyon Industrial Group, a joint venture with Associated Pipelines of Houston, are also working for the Denali pipeline group. The work included geotechnical surveys on the pipeline route through the eastern Interior.
“We expect to be working with TransCanada next year too,” Phillips said. Despite that fact that Denali and TransCanada are competitors in pursuing gas pipeline projects, “there would not be a conflict, but we would obviously build a ’fire-wall’ between the groups working on the projects.”
Similar surveys may be done on the northern part of the pipeline route next summer, and possibly in Canada as well.
Doyon Industrial Group is also working in the producing oil fields on the North Slope on pipeline maintenance work.
Doyon also has Doyon Tourism Inc., which operates lodges in the Denali National Park area, and is also in Doyon-Aramark, a joint venture operating tour buses in the national park.
It is in development of its lands, however, that Doyon sees its future.
“We see some real opportunities related to natural resources to create sustainable development for our villages, in terms of jobs, infrastructure and local tax base,” Phillips said.
Doyon has been engaged for several years in a long-term exploration program in the Nenana Basin west of Fairbanks, where there is potential for both oil and gas. The same is true for the Yukon Flats basin further north, where Doyon owns substantial lands and hopes to fill out its holdings with acreage acquired in a land-exchange with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There are several initiatives related to minerals, too. The most promising is in the Fortymile area of the eastern Interior, where Full Metals Minerals, a minerals exploration company, is exploring zinc, silver and lead prospects with showings of high-grade ore on Doyon-owned lands.
Full Metals had a drilling program this year to acquire 50,000 feet of core sample and will substantially expand the drilling program next year. The mining company has signed an agreement with Doyon giving it rights to explore on 88,675 acres of Doyon-owned lands.
“We’re very pleased that Full Metals is hiring locally and within the state, and is even taking people for training down to their ’drill school’ in Vancouver, B.C.,” said Jim Mery.
Phillips said people have been hired from communities like Northway and Tok that are near the project area, but also from as far away as the Yukon-Kuskokwim.
Mery said it’s too early to know if a mine could be developed or if it would be a surface or underground mine, or both.
“It’s just not one prospect, either. There is a 30-mile district of mineralization with several prospects. There are both state and Doyon lands but the project is being initiated on Doyon lands. We see this as a long-term, multi-generational opportunity,” Mery said.
Full Metals is also working with BHP Billiton, a major mining company, on copper-gold prospects on areas south of the prospect on Doyon lands.
Doyon has lands in the area but is not part of that project.
The corporation is also working with FreeGold Ventures on gold prospects south of McGrath. One prospect there, Vinasale, is an established gold discovery where about 1 million ounces of gold resources have been found.
“It is low-grade. We need to find some high-grade” resource to allow a mine to get started, Mery said.