State backs $190 million Ketchikan crossing

KETCHIKAN -- The state is recommending two bridges touching on Pennock Island as the best way to improve access to Gravina Island, where Ketchikan’s airport sits. The project could cost $190 million, officials say.Currently, travelers between Ketchikan and its airport take a shuttle ferry.Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Joe Perkins said the selection is a significant step toward turning the proposed bridge into a reality. He and Gov. Tony Knowles announced the decision Jan. 7.The Alaska congressional delegation has obtained $20 million in federal money to start the project, Knowles said. The state’s match is 20 percent. If the delegation succeeds in securing the full cost, the crossing could be the biggest construction project in Southeast Alaska in a decade, Knowles said.The proposal calls for a low bridge to cross the east channel of Tongass Narrows from Revillagigedo Island to Pennock Island. Continuing west, the roadway would gain elevation as it traversed Pennock, then cross the west channel of Tongass Narrows to Gravina on a second bridge more than 200 feet tall.State officials said the Pennock alternative was chosen, in part, because it allows the passage of major cruise ships; has less impact on floatplane traffic and Ketchikan International Airport; and is less visibly intrusive than some of the seven other options studied.The Pennock decision isn’t final. The announcement starts a 60-day public comment process, after which the state will make its final recommendation.

Canadians forge ahead with Mackenzie pipeline project

WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory -- Canadian natural gas producers say a decision to go forward with the Mackenzie Valley pipeline project does not close the door on a future partnership with Alaska producers of natural gas.The decision to advance the $3 billion Mackenzie project is based on an economic feasibility study of the 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves in the Mackenzie Delta."Not at any time did we contemplate Alaska gas," said Hart Searle, a spokesman for Imperial Oil.The partnership of Mackenzie Delta gas producers and the Mackenzie Valley Aboriginal Pipeline Corp. announced Jan. 8 it would spend millions during the next year to prepare the project for regulatory application."Certainly, I think it is safe to say that an application will go in in 2003," Searle said. "The application work will take us through this year and some time into 2003, and we would be in a position to file in 2003."The Alaska producers of North Slope gas are currently crunching the results of a $100 million research effort carried out during the last year. The producers are looking at the feasibility of two routes to pipe their product to the lower 48 states.One option is to build a natural gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks, and then follow the Alaska Highway corridor south to central Alberta. The second option, the over-the-top route, is to lay an offshore pipeline across the Beaufort Sea from Prudhoe Bay to the Mackenzie Delta, then go south down the Mackenzie Valley to northern Alberta.Searle said if the Alaska producers indicated an interest in working together with the Mackenzie Valley project, the Mackenzie Delta producers would be open to the idea.However, Searle said there’s nothing to suggest that the Mackenzie project couldn’t go forward on its own.Greg Komaromi, the Yukon’s director of oil and gas, said the announcement by the Mackenzie Valley consortium killed any chance of the Alaska producers going over-the-top with their pipeline.Komaromi said that while the Mackenzie group is talking about a pipeline to move 800,000 to 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day, the Alaska producers are talking about a pipeline with a capacity more than four times that amount."I think it is good news for the Alaska Highway route, in the sense that we have always envisioned these two projects going hand-in-hand," said Bob King, Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles’ spokesman. "There is certainly enough demand in the U.S. and Canada for both projects."Curtis Thayer, spokesman for the Alaska producers, said ExxonMobil Production Co., BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., and Phillips Alaska Inc. are still expected to make an announcement on their findings before the end of March.He said from the beginning the Alaska producers were focused on the north-south pipeline project based solely on the 35 trillion cubic feet of known gas reserves on Alaska’s North Slope.

Office space needs likely to wane

The Anchorage commercial real estate market in 2002 may see a need for warehouse space while demand for office space could slow, according to a panel of industry officials. Construction to be completed later this year will add 120,000 square feet of office space, said Chad Frampton, partner and broker at Schwamm & Frampton LLC of Anchorage. The economic outlook for Anchorage could see some job growth this year, said Scott Goldsmith, director of the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute for Social and Economic Research. However, he cautioned that a main economic engine, federal funding, won’t continue forever. Alaska ranks first in the nation for per capita federal dollars, he said. Also, a state fiscal gap could knock the air out of the economy, Goldsmith said. "In the near term the future looks bright but be prepared for a bumpier ride somewhere down the track," he said. Speakers addressed these topics Jan. 11 during the Building Owners and Managers Association of Anchorage commercial real estate forecast meeting at the Millennium Anchorage Hotel. In the office space sector, 2001 posted strong results with declining vacancies and climbing rental rates, Frampton said. However, he believes this year may herald slackening demand as the economy slows and new office space comes online. "I think 2002 will be slow and steady compared to the last couple years," Frampton said. More office construction probably won’t occur until current new space is absorbed by the market, he said. The Class A vacancy rate is 2 percent, and 4 percent for Class B and C office space for a total of vacant 300,000 square feet, he said. Rental rates for new Class A office space range from $2.65 to $3.25 per square foot each month. Rates for existing Class A space are $2 to $2.50. The range for Class B office space is $1.45 to $1.85 and for Class C, $1.10 to $1.40. Large blocks of Class A office space are limited, he said. Office space is scarce in the university/medical district despite new offices at Lake Otis Medical Center primarily for HealthSouth, he said. Providence Alaska Medical Center’s emergency room renovations completed last year also included adding 40,000 square feet of office space, although most of that is already leased, he said. Alaska Regional Hospital has office space available in its 28,000-square-foot Building C, Frampton said. In South Anchorage, the district’s largest office complex, Dimond Center, has 11,000 square feet of vacant space from the former Walden Pond School. Also, Arctic Slope Regional Corp. plans to sell its South Anchorage offices and move to its Midtown headquarters later this year, he said. ASRC will be the primary tenant for the new 10-story, 200,000-square-foot building, although 40,000 square feet on the top two floors will be available for lease, he said. A new office building at 3000 C St. should soon be completed, adding another 80,000 square feet to the office market, he noted. One proposed project, the three-story Sanders office complex at 36th Avenue and Denali Street, may add 45,000 square feet. Such additional office space might outpace demand this year, Frampton said. Class A office space is tight downtown, and converting older buildings to office space has helped the market, he said. A new Class A office building is under construction in Wasilla, he noted. The 43,000-square-foot, three-story Centennial Plaza is about 40 percent leased, Frampton said. Vacancy rates for warehouse space in Anchorage were 5.9 percent in late December out of an inventory of 13.8 million square feet, according to the Multiple Listing Service. "Most of the space offered for lease is vacant, but very little of the space offered for sale is vacant," said Doug Taylor, a broker from Prudential Jack White Real Estate. Last year new industrial space construction totaled $11.8 million, compared with $6.4 million in 2000, Taylor said, citing building permit statistics. Based on the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.’s forecast for 1.4 percent job growth, "we need to build about 193,000 square feet of new industrial space in 2002 to maintain our current market balance," he said. Anchorage should see several new construction projects this year, said Larry Cash, president of RIM Architects. "It is my belief that we’re going to see a continued good year for new construction. We may see less vertical construction and quite a bit more revitalization," he said, citing possible renovations at University Center. The ASRC building should be ready for tenants in September. Also in Midtown Anchorage, construction is under way on the BP Energy Center near BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.’s headquarters. Cash said retail construction includes Fred Meyer in South Anchorage and possibly Eagle River, Home Depot in East Anchorage, Lowe’s Home Improvement in South Anchorage and renovations at Carrs Quality Center in Eagle River. Several hotel and restaurant projects also are under way. Municipal projects should include expanding the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the city’s permit center and the Anchorage Senior Center. Also, the University of Alaska Anchorage library expansion should go out to bid this spring. Work on the three-story project should be finished in 2004 and add 126,000 square feet to the 87,000-square-foot building, Cash said. This year Anchorage will continue to add retail space to an already "overstored" market, said Bill Gee, vice president and broker at Hickel Investment Co. The excess of retail space parallels a national trend, he said. Anchorage’s 6 million square feet of retail space needs a population of 402,000 to support it, Gee said. Even including residents of the Kenai Peninsula and the Matanuska-Susitna areas, Southcentral’s population totals 370,000, he said, and that’s not counting about 1 million square feet of retail space in those areas. Retail space opening this year will affect the market and other retailers, he said.  

AEDC looks to recruit private clients for logistics center

An Anchorage economic development agency is pursuing plans to create a global logistics center in the area, including military operations.Larry Crawford, Anchorage Economic Development Corp. president and chief executive, said the key to developing a global logistics center lies in working with private companies, especially those providing value-added services.Last summer AEDC started a marketing effort to pitch Anchorage as a warehouse and distribution center for critical military parts and equipment.The move followed a study analyzing the idea. AEDC commissioned Price Waterhouse to conduct the study, which was completed last spring. The study identified 100 major defense contractors that supply or maintain equipment for the armed services, AEDC officials said earlier this year.Findings from the study dictated AEDC’s subsequent move, Crawford said."In order for us to attract military (logistics operations) we need to have a solid commercial structure on which they can piggyback," he said.Crawford spoke Jan. 9 at AEDC’s annual economic forecast luncheon at the Egan Civic & Convention Center.AEDC also is working with officials from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on the project, he said.AEDC has a contract with German-based TransCare to define methods of attracting firms to Anchorage, Crawford said. The contract was funded by a $150,000 state grant, he said.TransCare’s findings should be finished in late January, he said.Part of its work includes meeting with clients of a logistics company to pinpoint what could attract them to Alaska, he said.Some of companies include Intel, Motorola, Lockheed Martin, 3M, Honeywell, Siemens and General Electric, he cited."We met with over 20 U.S. and European companies," Crawford said.Once the report is complete, AEDC officials will assess possible options and develop a similar strategy for the Asian market, he said.AEDC’s goal is to attract a company that will manufacture a product to serve as payload for air carriers, he said.

Salmon industry needs a shake-up

Most people now recognize that it’s going to take more than a sustained marketing blitz to revitalize Alaska’s salmon industry."Challenges and Strategies for the Alaska Salmon Industry," a paper by Gunnar Knapp, is providing a sort of road map for a long-term fix, and is sure to shake things up as the Alaska Legislature settles in this month for a rocky session. Knapp is a University of Alaska economist and longtime industry watcher and prognosticator."The basic problem we face in the Alaska salmon industry is that our management system is not designed to create a competitive and cost-efficient industry," he writes. "Instead it is designed to achieve social and political goals of spreading the wealth of the salmon fishery -- of maximizing jobs and incomes for Alaskans. For a period of time, the system worked well. But it isn’t working well any more."Knapp says that a big part of the problem is that decades ago, the government decided that salmon could only be caught by a few specific gear types and established how many boats would fish each type of gear in each area."We are locked into harvesting Alaska salmon almost exactly the same way we did decades ago. We have hardly changed at all, while the rest of the world’s salmon industry -- and indeed the entire global economy -- has been engaged in continuous change in an effort to lower costs, improve quality, and better meet the needs of changing markets."He adds: "Much of the Alaska commercial salmon industry simply looks stupid and irrational to other Alaskans and other Americans. They no longer perceive the salmon industry as valuable and important. We seem to be in a perpetual crisis. We keep having ’economic disasters,’ and we seem to be always asking for help."Ouch.Pay up timeAlaska halibut and blackcod fishermen will pay slightly more this year for the privilege of participating in their exclusive fisheries.In a letter sent to Individual Fishing Quota permit holders, fishery managers announced the "cost recovery" fee will be 2 percent of the dockside value of last year’s catches, an increase of 0.2 percent. The letter was accompanied by bills based on the prices harvesters received for their catches. By law, federal fish managers can collect up to 3 percent of the value of the fisheries.The money is used to cover management and enforcement costs of the halibut and blackcod fisheries during the eight-month-long season that runs each year from March 15 to Nov. 15. Some of the money is also used to fund a low-interest loan program for fishermen interested in buying into the IFQ fisheries.Fishery managers said the rate hike came about because of a decline in the value of the catch. The total value for both species in 2001 is estimated at $167 million, down roughly $30 million from the 2000 catch.Last year was the first time fees were collected by the National Marine Fisheries Service for managing the fisheries. By all accounts, the process went smoothly. Of the more than 2,500 people who received a bill, only nine had to be referred to the U.S. Treasury Department for collection.Payments are due by Jan. 31.Have some say in subsistenceThe feds are seeking 33 people to serve on Alaska’s 10 Regional Subsistence Advisory Councils. The councils make recommendations to the Federal Subsistence Board and play a vital role in developing subsistence regulations and policies."The regional councils carry a great deal of weight in decisions regarding subsistence," said Mitch Demientieff, chairman of the Federal Subsistence Board.Council members represent the geographic, cultural and user diversity from within their region. The councils meet at least twice a year to consider proposed regulations for subsistence hunting and fishing. Councils also make recommendations on federal fishery studies and are responsible for reporting back to communities on subsistence issues. Most of the seats to be filled are for full, three-year terms, and members appointed in 2002 will join the councils this fall.The application period ends Feb. 22. Contact the Office of Subsistence Management at 800-478-1456 for more information.Wanted: money applicantsThe National Park Service is having a tough time getting fishermen to apply for millions of dollars in compensation funds. The money, which totals $23 million, is for those who were squeezed out of Glacier Bay fisheries in Southeast. Although an estimated 200 to 400 people are eligible to receive money, only about two dozen had applied by year’s end.The compensation package is divided among fishermen/crew, processors and employees, support businesses and communities. The deadline to apply is Jan. 28. Contact the Park Service or Department of Fish and Game to apply.Kodiak-based free-lance writer Laine Welch can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

Exploration points True North to north

FAIRBANKS -- Fairbanks Gold Mining officials want to expand gold mine operations at the True North deposit after receiving favorable results from an aggressive exploration program last year.Three ore deposits north of True North’s current mining pit have enough reserves to extend the life of the mine at least another year."The mine life is extended from 2003 to 2004, which is good news for employees," said Tom Irwin, vice president of Fairbanks Gold Mining, the company that operates True North. The mine, 30 miles north of Fairbanks, employs 100 people.Fairbanks Gold spent $2.1 million on a drilling and exploration program at True North, Irwin said.The company moves 10,000 tons of True North ore daily to its Fort Knox processing mill 10 miles east of True North and to do so moves about 20,000 tons of development or waste rock, a 2:1 strip ratio, Irwin said.The new ore bodies will have higher concentrations of development rock with a strip ratio of 4.2:1, meaning that for every 10,000 tons of ore obtained, the company will have to move 42,000 tons of development rock.Irwin said the company has not completely analyzed how many more ounces of gold reserves the new discoveries will add.Fairbanks Gold has applied to the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permit revisions so it can expand True North’s operation, Irwin said. The new pits fall within the mine’s current mill site lease area.Ed Fogels, large mine project manager with the state Division of Mining, Land and Water, said he is still reading the application. He anticipates public hearings and possibly a public meeting to discuss the expansion.The company wants to begin work on the expansion this summer, Fogels said.One concern is whether the mineral makeup of the new ore discovery will be compatible with current extraction methods at the Fort Knox mill. Fairbanks Gold uses a mix of chemicals to extract microscopic gold from crushed hard rock."After looking at the chemistry we want to make sure this stuff is OK to put in the mill," Fogels said.

Alaska Airlines to premiere service to Denver, Boston this spring

Alaska Airlines in April will expand service to Boston and Denver, which the company hopes will fill seats on the company’s expanded fleet of long-range, fuel-efficient aircraft.Beginning April 28, the Seattle-based airline will fly once a day from Fairbanks to Anchorage and continue on to Seattle and Denver. The airline will have two more flights daily between Seattle and Denver.Jack Walsh, an Alaska Airlines spokesman in Seattle, said Denver is a prime destination for people from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest."It’s the No. 4 market for travel from Seattle," Walsh said. "There is a tremendous amount of traffic every day between Seattle and Denver and vice versa. It made good sense for us."Horizon Air, the company’s commuter airline, will fly two nonstops daily from Denver to Portland, Ore., and a third to Portland with a stop in Boise, Idaho.The flights to Denver will be served by 138-seat Boeing 737s; Horizon’s flights will be aboard its new 70-passenger Bombardier CRJ 700 jets.Also on April 28, Alaska Airlines will offer service from Seattle to Boston, using new long-range 120-seat Boeing 737-700s. Walsh said the airplanes are fuel efficient and have enabled the airline’s recent entry into the Chicago and Cancun, Mexico, markets.The airline also is using the Boeing 737-700s to serve Washington, D.C., from Seattle, at Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport.

Fairbanks declines to subsidize airline

FAIRBANKS -- Condor German Airlines won’t be getting any financial backing from the borough government -- at least for now.The airline wants the community to put up money to ensure that its Fairbanks-to-Frankfurt service doesn’t lose money. The carrier began offering the service last summer. The Fairbanks North Star Borough was solicited for $50,000 to $250,000."It’s not appropriate for the borough to step up and say, ’We’re going to do it,’ " Jim Dodson, vice chairman of the borough economic development commission, said Jan. 10. Borough Mayor Rhonda Boyles told the commission that she would support a lesser amount, perhaps $10,000.Airport marketing director Dave Carlstrom is trying to find backers who will put up a total of $500,000. The money would go to Condor if the carrier can’t fill a minimum number of seats.Condor came in last summer after a local businessman agreed to underwrite seats. Carlstrom said that businessman ended up having to pay $25,000, but only because of a near-empty flight after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.He calls the financial guarantee a token gesture."Condor is absorbing 90 percent of the risk and looking from us for an almost symbolic 10 percent," Carlstrom said.

This session, Young's priority is transportation

If Rep. Don Young is to leave a legacy of his liking, it may well be traced to the upcoming second session of the 107th Congress.While vowing to preserve and protect Social Security, provide tax relief to Americans, balance the budget and strengthen the military, the 15-term Republican congressman’s top priority this year -- and perhaps the most important of his entire political career -- will be the rewriting of legislation that provides billions of federal dollars for planning and building transportation projects in the United States.As the new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the frank-speaking former school teacher and river boat captain from Fort Yukon will be the principal architect in crafting the nation’s transportation program during the next several years.The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, more commonly known as TEA-21, expires at the end of the year.Alaska stands to win big in the new legislation, with its sole congressman promising major upgrades to the state’s entire transportation infrastructure, including airports, marine highways, railroad, harbors, roads, bike paths and bridges.Young said he joined the transportation committee in 1995 to advance Alaska’s transportation agenda. And he not so quietly claims to have been key in crafting the TEA-21 legislation that first became law in 1998.Young’s past influence on the landmark legislation is hard to argue: Alaska gets $6 for every dollar it contributes from gasoline taxes, about three times what the next closest state, Wyoming, receives.That ratio is glaringly conspicuous with Young’s colleagues in Congress, with some saying Alaska is getting an unfair cut of transportation money. Young argues that Alaska’s transportation needs are greater than other states, since it has historically lagged behind on project funding, with about $8 billion needed to bring the state’s roads and transportation facilities to an acceptable level.When the new TEA-21 legislation is introduced next January, Young says he will keep at least the current funding formula, which funnels some $320 million into the state annually for transportation projects.Will he be successful?"Absolutely. I’ll be very successful, but it won’t be easy," Young told the Journal Jan. 7 in Anchorage. "I’ll be in combat formation.’’While chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Young said he’ll fight hard for additional money for such things as railroad, airport and runway upgrades across the state. He’ll also find funding for a proposed multimillion dollar expansion at the Port of Anchorage, which serves 80 percent of Alaska."We have to look to the future and where we will be 50 years from now," Young said.He’s also pledging progress on bridges in Anchorage, Ketchikan and Juneau, projects that have been talked about for decades but have been considered nearly impossible to finance.That outlook was before Young became chairman on the powerful transportation committee last year."My goal is to get them,’’ Young said of the bridges. "These are not pie-in-the-sky projects, but in this business, you don’t always get things in one bite."Young, with the help of Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski, has obtained $20 million in federal money to build a bridge from the Ketchikan airport to town, a trip that now requires a ferry ride.In the transportation budget for 2002 is $2.4 million to begin efforts to build a bridge from Juneau over Gastineau Channel to Douglas Island.He also aims to garner up to $2 million this year to pay for design and permitting of a Knik Arm crossing already dubbed by some people the "Don Young Causeway.’’Young said he is committed to finding funds "within seven years" for the link between Anchorage and Point MacKenzie, a crossing that has a price tag of more than $1 billion, according to some estimates.Young is seen by the highway and transportation construction industry as a champion not only in Alaska but nationwide, and has won allies for pushing transportation projects and protecting TEA-21 gas tax revenues from being used by politicians for pet projects that are not transportation related.It is perhaps those allies and others whom Young hopes would support him as Speaker of the House, a position he said he’d like to hold after his six-year tenure as chairman of the transportation committee ends in 2007.

Business Profile: Spill Shield International

Name of the company: Spill Shield InternationalEstablished: 1992Location: 4735 Gambell St., AnchorageTelephone: 907-561-6033Web site: www.spillshield.comMajor focus of services: Spill Shield International sells supplies for environmental cleanup and other equipment for Alaska climate conditions.History of the company: Spill Shield was originally owned by a Native corporation before Jerry Harms bought the company including rights to distribute products in Alaska. One key product the company still carries is the Absorbent W Water Scrubber, which filters oily water through either a barrel-type or other container. Spill Shield has sold these products in Hawaii, Japan and Russia.In 1995 Spill Shield added another product, the Smart Ash incinerator, which can burn spill absorbent materials and many other industrial materials. The Alaska company has notched performances as top dealer for the product for seven years. More than 600 of the incinerators are being used in Alaska, and Spill Shield has sold others to be used in Africa, Japan and Russia.The company carries other products used for spill response, maintenance and containment, which are employed in several sectors including Alaska harbors, Bush villages, auto mechanics’ shops, electric utility cooperatives, military projects and commercial fishing.Harms originally operated Spill Shield from his home until moving to office space by 1994 and later moving to the current location five years ago.In 1994 his wife Kris Harms joined the business full time.The business owners said Spill Shield has grown during its tenure, chiefly by testimonies of clients.Top accomplishment of the company: The couple is proud to mark Spill Shield’s 10th anniversary this year, which they attribute to hard work, quality service and product demonstrations. "We both kind of decided to refuse to give up," Kris Harms said.She also is pleased Spill Shield has introduced innovative products to Alaska, and the couple is encouraged by helping customers use products to solve problems.Major players: Kris Harms, president, and Jerry Harms, vice president, Spill Shield International.Jerry Harms came to Alaska in 1973 and worked 10 years in the Fairbanks construction industry. He later worked in the commercial food sector. Kris Harms moved to the state in 1975 and worked as a credit union auditor in Fairbanks. Later they ran Summit Lake Lodge near Paxson, then briefly moved out of state, returning to Alaska to operate Spill Shield.-- Nancy Pounds

Distributor's warehouse nearly ready

Builders are nearing completion on a larger warehouse for Anchorage wholesale distributor Regal Foods, which handles Orowheat bread products.The $2.3 million building, at International Airport Road and Latouche Street, will feature eight dock-high doors compared with four at the current location, said Regal Foods owner Scott Rumfield. The new freezer facility will measure about 12,000 square feet or 25 percent larger than its current location, he said."We’ve been doing business over 20 years out of here," he said. The business is now registering enough demand to merit a larger facility, Rumfield said.The general contractor is Anchorage-based Cornerstone General Contractors.Rumfield began planning the project in November 2000, and construction began in August. Work should be completed in mid-February, he said.Regal Foods had leased its facility at 355 E. 76th Ave. and will be moving into its own building once it’s completed, he said.The company distributes its bread products in Anchorage, Kenai, Kodiak and throughout rural Alaska.The construction project is being financed through KeyBank, Rumfield said.

Safeway to add, remodel Carrs stores

The operators of the state’s largest grocery chain, Carrs Quality Centers, have started renovation projects at several Anchorage stores with plans to upgrade statewide stores in future years.Safeway Inc.’s plans for upgrades include about 28 locations as well as a replacement store in South Anchorage, said Glenn Peterson, district manager for Anchorage, Wasilla, Ketchikan and Juneau."We’re going to touch virtually every store in Alaska in the next two to three years," he said.Safeway plans to build the new store at 88th Avenue and Abbott Road, replacing its Dimond Boulevard and Old Seward Highway location. The new store will measure 64,000 square feet, compared with the current store’s 40,000 square feet, and be just slightly smaller than the Huffman Road store in Anchorage, Peterson said.Construction could begin by spring, and Peterson hopes to open the replacement store by the holidays.The new Carrs store will be built a few blocks away from competitor Fred Meyer’s new Abbott Road store, scheduled to open next month.Currently, Safeway is remodeling its store in Eagle River and the Jewel Lake store in Anchorage, he said. Work is scheduled to begin next month at the Carrs store on DeBarr Road in Anchorage, he said. Later this year renovations will begin at two other Anchorage stores, at Huffman Road and Gambell Street, plus in Wasilla and Ketchikan, Peterson said. The Juneau store renovations could begin early next year, he said.Upgrades vary by store and include altering store layouts, adding new freezers, equipment and fixtures, and incorporating changes like a new food court area, he said.Peterson would not say what the projects cost, including the new store. However, Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch during an Anchorage Economic Development Corp. forecast luncheon listed $7 million for Carrs renovations.According to Peterson, who had worked for Carrs 25 years, the renovations show Safeway’s commitment to its stores in the state."They are definitely excited about the Alaska market."

Future brightens for pollock, cod

Alaska’s big offshore groundfish industry has seen a dramatic turnabout in its fortunes.Stellar Research indicates diet only piece of puzzleResults are coming from millions of dollars in new federal funds flowing into research on Steller sea lions.Sea lion populations in Western Alaska have declined 80 percent in the last 40 years, from 180,000 animals in the 1960s to less than 30,000 now.Scientists have been unable to establish the reason for the decline, and the official listing of this western stock under the Endangered Species Act has threatened Alaska’s $1 billion groundfish industry."We now know that the causes of the decline in the western Steller sea lion populations are much more complex than what was originally believed, which was some problem in their diets," said Heather McCarty, a Juneau-based fisheries consultant who helps coordinate research.Previously, the National Marine Fisheries Service, working without any funding for new sea lion research, had to rely on spotty and outdated research that pointed to a dietary problem, McCarty said.The diet argument provided ammunition for environmental groups in their quest to reduce or shut down the offshore fishing industry. The argument was that fishing for pollock, cod and other species off Alaska’s coasts imperiled the sea lions’ food supply.Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens got additional time for NMFS to study the sea lion decline, with $40 million in emergency funding for research last year and an additional $40 million this year.The $80 million in total funding has produced a broad-based research effort that includes not only federal scientists but researchers from the University of British Columbia, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.More than 150 different study efforts are now under way on why sea lion populations have crashed. The research involves 155 principal investigators and 300 to 400 research assistants.Stephanie Madsen, Alaska director for the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, said one result of Stevens’ efforts is that national fisheries agency scientists were given additional time to analyze satellite telemetry data gathered previously.The data showed that young sea lions, who are the most in peril, forage for food within a few miles of rookeries and haul-out areas, Madsen said. Older sea lions, who are less imperiled, swim farther out.Based on that information, gathered by both federal and state scientists, the federal agency was able to focus its restrictions on areas near the rookeries and haul-out areas, Madsen said.This meant that fishing could continue in waters farther offshore without placing the young sea lions in peril, she said. The result was that restricted no-fishing areas were limited to three miles around coastal areas rather than 20 miles.Significant new information also came from the Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova. Scientists there discovered, after studies of nocturnal foraging activity, that sea lions prefer fish like herring and eat pollock and cod only when nothing else is available.That finding directly contradicted the argument that fishing for pollock and cod disrupted a major source of food for Steller sea lions.This result was reinforced by a detailed analysis of available scientific information on sea lions that was released by the state of Alaska last August, McCarty said.A major conclusion by state biologists is that the Stellers’ decline is not just food-related but is caused by several factors, including predation by killer whales, she said.Fishermen all along had pointed to killer whales as a problem for young sea lions, but until recently government scientists had not given killer whales much thought.-- The Associated Press contributed to this report. A year ago fishermen who harvested pollock and cod in federally managed waters off Alaska’s coast seemed on the endangered species list, along with Steller sea lions.This year, as boats head back to the fishing grounds for the start of 2002 fishing, Lady Luck is smiling.The threats that environmental lawsuits over the sea lions could shut down offshore fishing seem to have receded.Market conditions seem in reasonable shape too, according to Frank Kelty, resource specialist with the city of Unalaska. Harvests are up to, Kelty said.Russia is reducing harvests of pollock and cod off the Russian Far East in an effort to curb overfishing, Kelty said, and that has tightened supply and lifted prices for surimi, a seafood product made from pollock.In the Bering Sea, where the bulk of the pollock and cod are caught, the allowable harvest is up from last year because of healthy fish stocks.The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set the Bering Sea 2002 pollock harvest at 1.5 million metric tons, up from 1.4 million in 2000. About 135 large vessels are in this fishery, as well as smaller boats serving eight large shore plants.Better times won’t be felt everywhere, however. In the Gulf of Alaska, pollock catches will be down 40 percent from 2001, from 96,000 tons last year to 58,000 tons this year because of the condition of the groundfish stocks.Those stocks are recovering, however, and the Gulf of Alaska should experience better harvests in 2003 and 2004.Meanwhile, the main pollock A fishing season begins Jan. 20, under the management plans being followed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the federal agency responsible for offshore fisheries.Seattle U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly has set Jan. 18 as a deadline for parties in the sea lion lawsuit to notify the court of their intentions regarding a new fisheries management plan for groundfish developed by the NMFS.Trevor McCabe, executive director of the At-Sea Processors Association, said his group expects the environmental plaintiffs in the lawsuit to contest the management plan. But McCabe said indications are the groups will not seek an injunction to stop the start of fishing Jan. 20.A year ago things looked extremely bleak for the groundfish industry, which earns about $700 million per year in revenues.Environmental groups led by Greenpeace had filed lawsuits charging that NMFS was not adequately protecting the Steller sea lions, which have experienced large drops in population.The plaintiffs in the case urged a cutback in fishing to protect the sea lions, arguing that large-scale fishing was cutting into the food supply for the sea lions.In response to the lawsuits, NMFS adopted in November 2000 a restrictive biological opinion on measures needed to protect the sea lions. The opinion recommended that large areas be closed to fishing for pollock, Pacific cod and Atka mackerel.Among other restrictions, management plans based on the opinion would have put 90 percent of coastal waters traditionally fished by the Kodiak fleet off-limits and would have imposed severe restrictions on fishing elsewhere along the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutians and Bering Sea.Alaskans in the fishing business, and the state’s congressional delegation, argued the biologicalopinion was based on inadequate science.An amendment pushed through Congress by Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens gave the agency more time and also appropriated $40 million for additional sea lion research.That gave NMFS more information about the sea lions, resulting in a revised biological opinion released earlier this year. It said the sea lions can be protected while allowing more fishing.Revised management plans were developed by a task force established by the North Pacific council, based on the new biological opinion. They allow for different types of management measures in each of the major fisheries areas, the Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.The new plans provide for closed areas around rookeries and other areas used by sea lions, together with seasonal restrictions and harvest apportionments.

Doyon selects Williams as its president

FAIRBANKS -- A former Doyon Ltd. board member has been chosen to serve as the Alaska Native corporation’s president.Orie Williams, formerly of Nenana, will fill the vacancy left by Rosemarie Maher, who died of a heart attack July 6."Most of us who came of age in the early days of the Native land claims and the emergence of Native ’self-determination’ can only dream of leading our regional corporations," Williams, 56, said in a corporation press release. "I have prepared for this all my life," he added.Doyon’s board of directors selected Williams during a special meeting in Anchorage on Jan. 5.Williams leaves his position as executive vice president of the Bethel-based Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. He has held that position for more than 11 years.Williams begins his new job Feb. 18.

Make New Year's resolutions stick

January is the time of new beginnings. This is the hopeful time of great resolve when the health clubs are full, when the sale of nicotine patches soar and when office desks tops are tidy and polished. We are now in that short sweet season when we really do believe that the garage will actually be cleaned up, that the kids will learn how to have all of their weekend homework done by Saturday noon and that those extra 20 pounds will certainly melt away.Using resolutions the right wayIt is in this season of optimism and hope when many of us are setting to the task of writing New Year’s resolutions. I believe that writing specific goals for the year is a good thing, although it can be a miserable task if we approach it with the wrong attitude.The trick to resolutions is to use them as a gauge of our wins and not as a record of our losses. Resolution writing and resolution tracking need to become a ritual of celebration and fun. It shouldn’t become a dreary and burdensome task that awakens a negative inner voice that tells us that we are losers.My trick to resolution writing has been to keep it short and sweet. In January 1996, I made a list of two resolutions that I carried around in my appointment book until I finally accomplished both of them in 2000. With those accomplished, I embarked on a more extensive list last year.A wise friend of mine uses a word or a short phrase to summarize what he wants to accomplish during the year rather than a long list of hard and fast goals. His theory is that a goal is only valuable if you can remember it at all times. He supplements his phrase with a list of wishes rather than a list of resolutions. He says that having wishes is a lot more fun than having resolutions. I like his approach.Another friend works on his resolutions by running off to a resort for a weekend getaway with his wife. The whole process becomes characterized by fun and collaboration. This is especially important when writing our personal goals.Developing meaningful goals at workWe typically approach our work-related goals with greater seriousness than our personal goals. The key to developing meaningful goals at work is to focus on tangible outcomes rather than simply on activities. At my business, an outcome goal would be something like "close three new loans per month" while an activity goal would be something like "network with business leaders." The activity may contribute to the tangible outcome, but in itself it is not a tangible accomplishment.In writing our annual goals at work, we always need to focus in on the tangible outcomes. It is the responsibility of the leader of the business to make sure that the workers clearly understand what tangible outcomes are needed to assure success. Clearly articulated tangible goals foster a sense of accountability and responsibility among all employees.A focus on tangible outcomes broadens the perspective of employees and helps them to focus on the needs of others -- specifically the customer. Activity goals tend to foster more of an inward focus.For many of us, our most important annual business goals are encapsulated in our annual budgets. Most individual goals should ultimately tie somehow into bottom-line profits.The key to profits is typically the revenue section of the budget. Each employee should focus each day on how he or she can contribute to revenues. Revenue is the ultimate tangible outcome. Too often employees focus on the expense section of the budget rather than the revenue section. Expenses are typically the responsibility of the supervisor, whereas revenues should be the responsibility of every employee in the company.January is the time of year for setting new goals for ourselves at home and at the office. We are at that wonderful time of year when 2002 is all hope and no history. We need to make the most of this season of optimism and hope by taking time to write down what we really want to accomplish this year.In our personal lives, we need to make reasonable goals that can bring us a sense of accomplishment rather than failure. At the office we need to establish outcome goals that will generate tangible benefits for the company rather than activity goals that simply measure motion and not results.David Hoffman is president and chief executive of Alaska Growth Capital. He can be reached in Anchorage at 907-349-4904 or via e-mail at ([email protected]).

This Week in Alaska Business History January 20, 2002

Editor’s note: "This Week in Alaska Business History" revisits events that shaped our past."Those who cannotremember the past arecondemned to repeat it."-- George Santayana, 1863-195220 years ago this weekAnchorage TimesJan. 21, 1982Commission reports railroad’s needsBy Deb DavidTimes WriterGaining access across federal lands needed to extend the Alaska Railroad is almost as crucial to the future of Alaska’s transportation system as state ownership of the line itself, a group of local business leaders said.When and if Congress decides to hand the line over to the state, a mechanism must be in place to accept the railroad and keep it running, they added.These are two of the findings of the Transportation Committee of Commonwealth North. It released its "action paper" on the railroad transfer at a press conference. The document will go to state legislators and Alaska’s congressional delegation."The railroad is too important to be left in the hands of the federal government," said committee chairman William Tobin. "When the government wants to dispose of it, the state should and must accept it."Congress could transfer the railroad as early as this year.Anchorage TimesJan. 21, 1982Jack White Co.’s staff rakes in real estate dollarsBy Deb DavidTimes WriterSo much for the "Million Dollar Clubs" common in the real estate industry.The top sales person at one Anchorage real estate company last year raked in lease sales worth $28 million. The average sale for the firm’s 22 agents was $6.8 million each.Records built in 1977 were slashed. The firm’s top six sales persons sold a total of $90 million worth of real estate. The entire staff rang up sales of $150 million, 41 percent higher than the 1977 peak and 56 percent higher than 1980 sales.The firm is Jack White Co.Its office in the Calais Building belies the aggressive business approach that has made it successful.Said president Sewell Faulkner: "This sales volume is really high nationally. I know of no other firm in the country with a comparable size staff which has approached this record."10 years ago this weekAlaska Journal of CommerceJan. 27, 1992Anchorage airport gained traffic in 1991By Ray TysonAlaska Journal of CommerceDomestic passenger traffic at Anchorage International Airport bucked Lower 48 trends in 1991 to post a modest 3-4 percent gain, while passenger counts for international flights plummeted nearly 50 percent as foreign carriers continued to leave the state.Anchorage International hung on to its ranking as the leading U.S. cargo airport, however, registering about a 7 percent increase in landings. More air freight passes through Anchorage than any other city in North America.But it was on the domestic passenger front that Anchorage turned in its most notable performance last year.Though the growth rate in 1991 was modest and lower than in recent years, it was well above recession-plagued Lower 48 markets, which fell an average of 4 percent and as far as 8-10 percent in some major cities.Fare wars between Alaska Airlines and MarkAir should keep Alaska domestic traffic on an even keel in 1992.Alaska Journal of CommerceJan. 27, 1992Jet stream blows windfall to AnchorageBy Ray TysonAlaska Journal of CommerceThanks to the jet stream and its strong winter headwinds, Anchorage International Airport is reaping a tidy windfall in landing fees and fuel sales from airliners that can’t make it from the U.S. continent to Asia on a tank of gas.The airport reported 25 unscheduled stops during one week of December alone."The most I’ve seen in a week is 25," said Anders Westman, airport marketing director. "I’ll bet we had 50 of them in December."The airport collects $1,500 to $1,700 per landing, depending on the plane’s weight and how much fuel it consumes. Airliners make 100 to 200 unscheduled stops in Anchorage between November and March, the time when the jet stream’s westerly winds are the strongest."This is completely unplanned business," Westman said. "That’s unscheduled icing on the cake."-- Compiled by Ed Bennett

Letters to the Editor January 20, 2002

Dear Editor:A story published in the Oct. 29, 2001 issue of the Alaska Journal of Commerce seemed uncharacteristically unbalanced. The story, "Halford calls airport unsafe," continually makes reference to the airport’s safety procedures and how the use of ultralights at Birchwood Airport mixed with general aviation aircraft may be problematic, according to Sen. Halford.Where in the story is a quote from the ultralight community?I operate a business that services ultralights and offers ultralight flight training that stresses safety and pilot awareness during flight training and ground school classes.Let me clarify a mistruth.The story offers a statement from Sen. Halford that states, "The fact that ultralight pilots have no requirements for certification or equipment, other than what they impose on themselves. ..." is incorrect. Ultralight pilots operate under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 103, which require all operators to give right of way to all other aircraft including sailplanes and hot air balloons. Another misconception is that ultralights are "essentially motorized hang gliders" is not true either.Sen. Halford’s statements cast an unnecessary shadow on the safety record at Birchwood Airport. Perhaps instead Journal readers would like to know that there have been no incidents or accidents between general aviation and ultralight aircraft that have resulted in injuries at Birchwood Airport, and that many of the ultralight pilots also have FAA pilot’s licenses and operate aviation businesses that you regularly report on.Mike JacoberPresident, Arctic Sparrow Aircraft Inc.

Airports look for federal aid to fingerprint workers

Officials for Alaska’s larger airports want federal money to purchase digital fingerprinting machines and perform criminal background checks on employees.The Federal Aviation Administration in December required that all airport and airline employees with access to secured areas be checked out with the FBI. Across the United States, that decision will mean more than 750,000 employees at about 400 airports will need to be fingerprinted by the end of the year.The state is asking for more than $1 million from the federal government to fund electronic fingerprinting equipment known as biometrics for 17 state-owned rural airports across the state, and for Anchorage and Fairbanks, said Frank Richards, a maintenance engineer with the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities in Juneau.The city-owned airport in Juneau will have to pursue its own funding for electronic fingerprinting machines, Richards said.Joette Storm, an FAA spokeswoman in Anchorage, said it’s unclear whether the federal government will reimburse airports that purchase digital fingerprinting machines because the new regulations only require that airport employees be fingerprinted, either electronically or by dactyloscopy, the 100-year-old process of rolling fingers in ink and impressing them onto coated cards.Richards said it’s impractical to expect airports to gather fingerprints from the old ink-transfer method since it takes several weeks to get results versus only hours if fingerprints are taken electronically.Airport officials across the United States hope the digital fingerprinting machines will be funded either through a new government-imposed $2.50 passenger surcharge on airplane tickets or through airport improvement funds, traditionally used for construction upgrades.Officials at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport have purchased two electronic fingerprint machines to get a jump on the year-end deadline. The machines arrived in early January, and officials are checking out some 8,000 airport employees, according to Terri Tibbe, airport security manager.The two machines, manufactured by Identix Inc. of Los Gatos, Calif., cost the airport $73,000, Tibbe said.Airports in San Francisco, Orlando and Washington, D.C., use machines manufactured by the same company.It takes just a few minutes to record someone’s fingerprints and send them off to the FBI, which will send the results back in anywhere from a few hours to a few days, Tibbe said."This definitely is an increased measure in security, but it’s not the end-all," Tibbe said.Tibbe said most airline and government employees working at the airport have their fingerprints on file with the FBI, but they have to be fingerprinted again under the new regulations.One in 10 Anchorage residents are employed by an airport-related business, and Tibbe suspects there may be someone who is wanted for a crime and may show up on the FBI’s files. No one has quit because of the background checks, and Tibbe suspects the new regulations may prohibit people with outstanding criminal histories from applying for jobs.Chuck Grandy, chief of safety at the Fairbanks International Airport, said an electronic fingerprinting machine should be in use at the airport by the middle of January.Grandy said about 800 people who work at the airport will have to be fingerprinted, a process that should be completed by the end of summer, well before the FAA’s deadline."I think we can process four people an hour fairly easily," Grandy said.Damon Wright, Identix Inc.’s director of investor and public relations, said his company’s digital fingerprint machines are not new to Alaska."A number of police forces there use them," Wright said.Like many biometric companies, Identix’s stock rose sharply after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.The company’s stock was trading at less than $4 before the attacks and soared as high as $15 in the months following. The stock was valued at about $12 on Jan. 11.

Around the World January 20, 2002

STATEAlaska pipeline group submits signaturesANCHORAGE -- Backers of an all-Alaska pipeline to carry North Slope natural gas to market have turned in more than 42,000 signatures for a November ballot initiative.Supporters from Citizens Initiative for the All-Alaska Gasline hauled the signatures in a Loomis armored van to the state Division of Elections office in Anchorage Jan. 11.The initiative would create a new state agency, called the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority. The agency’s purpose would be to acquire natural gas and build a pipeline to Valdez.Supporters favor an in-state line, with spurs to serve Alaska towns, rather than one through Canada, according to group chairman Scott Heyworth.Hammond, Leask join Ulmer’s bid for governorANCHORAGE -- Democrat Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer’s campaign for governor is getting help from former Republican Gov. Jay Hammond and the past president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.Ulmer announced Jan. 10 that Hammond, who was governor from 1974 to 1982, will serve as co-chair of her 2002 gubernatorial campaign with Janie Leask. Leask was an AFN president for seven years.Hammond said once some fellow Republicans found out he intended to work for Ulmer’s campaign, they urged him to keep a low profile. That advice prompted him to do just the opposite, he said.Leask is manager of community relations for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. She serves on the boards of the Alaska Humanities Forum and Commonwealth North, and also is a trustee for the First Alaskans Foundation.Ulmer said Alaskans probably consider her an underdog to Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska -- the other leading gubernatorial candidate -- because of his high profile in Washington, D.C., and years of experience at running big campaigns.But if they examine her record of accomplishments, she will have the advantage over Murkowski, she said.Alaska Native Wireless seeks license refundsANCHORAGE -- Alaska Native Wireless wants the Federal Communications Commission to refund about $550 million the company paid last year after successfully bidding on wireless licenses now mired in the courts.With the government holding the corporation’s money interest-free, and with the licenses in limbo, Alaska Native Wireless and 12 other successful bidders are losing $3 million every week in interest payments, according to a petition filed with the FCC.Alaska Native Wireless is a joint venture of AT&T Wireless and three Alaska Native corporations: Sealaska Corp. of Juneau, Arctic Slope Regional Corp. of Barrow and Doyon Ltd. of Fairbanks.The venture bid $2.9 billion for wireless licenses in a federal auction last January. The licenses had become available after their original owner, NextWave, filed for bankruptcy protection.But last June a federal appeals court decided the licenses still belonged to NextWave and ordered the FCC to return them. The FCC has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the appeals court ruling, but Alaska Native Wireless isn’t banking on a reversal.NATIONMortgage boom boosts Wells Fargo’s profitsSAN FRANCISCO -- Wells Fargo & Co. said a mortgage refinancing boom enabled the bank to offset sluggish loan demand among its business customers and boost fourth-quarter profits by 5 percent.The San Francisco-based bank said Jan. 15 that it earned $1.18 billion, or 69 cents per share, during the final three months of 2001, compared with $1.13 billion, or 65 cents per share, a year earlier.That soundly surpassed the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call by a penny.Wells attributed most of the fourth-quarter gains to robust consumer loan demand, particularly in its mortgage division, which cashed in on the lowest interest rates since the 1960s.With its home loan volume more than tripling in the fourth quarter, the bank ended the year with $194 billion in mortgage originations, breaking its previous record of $109 billion in 1998. Last year’s mortgage volume represented a 155 percent increase from 2000, the bank said.Still, Wells’ business loans remained flat as the bank’s corporate customers pulled back because of the recession.WORLDCompanies face billions in fines following rulingBRUSSELS, Belgium -- The World Trade Organization handed the United States a major loss Jan. 14 with a decision that opens the way for the European Union to ask for billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on U.S. imports.Both the EU and the United States, however, immediately signaled their desire to avert a trade war that would dwarf any previous dispute and most likely hurt companies on both sides of the Atlantic.The WTO appeals panel in Geneva ruled against a U.S. law granting multibillion-dollar tax breaks to Microsoft, Boeing and thousands of other American companies operating overseas.The European Union, which brought the case, said it expected "rapid proposals" from Washington to bring itself into compliance with WTO rules.The Brussels-based EU could ask the WTO for permission to start imposing up to $4 billion in sanctions almost immediately.-- Compiled from business wire services.

One way or another, Senate will take up ANWR, Murkowski says

Alaska Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski will continue efforts to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration this year and is optimistic the issue will be addressed in the U.S. Senate, one way or another.An energy bill passed by the House includes a provision to allow the coastal plain to be explored, but the Senate’s Democratic leaders have refused to let the issue come to a vote, Murkowski said.Murkowski said that’s because they don’t have the votes to stop ANWR’s opening."We’ve got two Democrats with us in the Energy Committee and possibly a third," he said. "It’s enough to get an ANWR bill out of committee" and to the full Senate.To prevent that, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has instructed Energy Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., not to hold any meetings of the committee."We haven’t had a business meeting of the committee since October," Murkowski said.Meanwhile, the Senate Democrats’ energy bill, written by Bingaman, does not include an ANWR provision. It was sent out by the chairman, but not the full committee, under an unusual procedure that allows a chairman to move a bill directly.The Republican energy bill, which does include ANWR, is still in the committee.Murkowski said he hopes ANWR can be given a full-blown debate in the committee and before the full Senate, but he is prepared to attempt an ANWR amendment on the president’s economic stimulus package, which is still in the Senate.Since ANWR leasing is expected to bring the government at least $3 billion in new federal revenues, it could fit into the stimulus package, Murkowski said.Senate Republicans have other kinds of leverage on this issue, too. There are indications Daschle and other farm-state senators want to complete work on major agricultural legislation this year, Murkowski said.To do so, they’ll need the cooperation of Senate Republicans. Democrats control the Senate with a one-vote majority, 51 to 49.On other energy issues important to Alaska, Murkowski said major work on the energy legislation, which will include provisions on the Alaska gas pipeline, has yet to be done.The Democrats’ energy bill includes language proposed by the North Slope gas producers as well as a set of economic incentives."They threw it in as a bone, to take the heat off ANWR and show they’re doing something meaningful to promote Alaska energy," Murkowski said."But it’s not exactly what the producers wanted," he said.Murkowski said he will convene a meeting in Washington in early February with the producers and the gas pipeline companies that are proposing a consortium to build a pipeline, along with state officials, to sort out what is really needed in federal legislation.The three major gas producers, BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., ExxonMobil Production Co. and Phillips Alaska Inc., have agreed to the meeting, along with the pipeline companies and the state, Murkowski said."I’m very pleased at their responsiveness. The purpose of this meeting is to bring these parties together," he said.Early last fall the Senate Energy Committee met on the pipeline issue and the lack of unity between the producers, the state and pipeline companies on the issue gave Bingaman, the committee chairman, a reason to delay action on legislation.An important goal in the legislation will be to protect Alaska’s interests in setting pipeline tariffs and other regulatory decisions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Murkowski said.The 1976 Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Act gives the state a formal role with FERC, but the gas pipeline provisions in the Democrats’ energy bill do not provide any similar special status for the state before FERC on Alaska gas issues."We have to be very careful with this, to protect Alaska’s interests," Murkowski said.The senator also expects to work on incentives to encourage development of heavy oil on the North Slope.BP and Phillips are developing heavy oil in the Schrader Bluff and West Sak deposits, which have a huge resource of oil. The oil is difficult and costly to produce, however.


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