Yesterday the radio studios of KFQD in Anchorage hosted a vibrant discussion of energy issues facing Alaska and the U.S. Alaska Journal of Commerce Publisher Jeff Jones moderated the Dan Fagan Show conversation with invited guests, John Rense and Dave Harbour. (NGP Photos: Jeff Jones, seated, and John Rense)
This afternoon at 4 p.m. Alaska time, your author will be in the studio with Alaska Journal of Commerce publisher, Jeff Jones (NGP Photo) as we focus on 2011 energy/economic challenges in Alaska and throughout North America. You may stream the audio this afternoon at 4 AST by clicking here, on the Dan Fagan Radio Show Icon. Or, you may listen to or download the podcast later by clicking here on 'Hour 3'.
Peninsula Clarion by Tim Bradner (NGP Photo). Expectation and apprehension: two words that say it all for 2011. For Alaskans watching the state's economy as a whole, with all of its diversified industries, there are expectations of better times. Those focused on the petroleum industry, which pays the bills for state government, are apprehensive. ... More than anything the mood is set by the uncertainty, and now pessimism, about a large natural gas pipeline project. The expectation was that TransCanada Corp. would make announcements at the end of December that it had signed agreements with gas shippers for capacity in its planned 48-inch pipeline from the North Slope. The pipeline company had hoped to have agreements but it now acknowledges this won't happen, at least by New Year's Day. ... The continued decline in oil production and lack of new exploration drilling is another concern. In its latest forecast the state Department of Revenue reported that oil production from the North Slope declined 7 percent last year, although the decline is expected to soften to 4 percent this year. ... One hope for getting new oil into the pipeline, and one bright light for the industry, is for Shell Oil to make a discovery in the eastern Beaufort Sea, where the company holds federal offshore leases. Shell has been attempting to drill exploration wells since 2007, but has been stymied by lawsuits and regulatory delays. ... ConocoPhillips agrees on the potential for viscous oil but its Alaska president, Trond-Erik Johansen, cautioned that modifications in Alaska's high taxes on oil are needed to make this development possible.
...for commenting on Shell Oil's 2011 Beaufort Sea exploration program. Today we received a copy of longtime Alaskan David Dittman's (NGP Photo) comment and thought you might be interested in his typically logical viewpoint.
Comment: Without new oil supplies from Arctic frontier areas controlled by the Feds, Alaska's oil pipeline future is jeapordized along with prospects for the North Slope gas pipeline whose economics are closely related to new gas discoveries and the sustainability of the oil pipeline. -dh
Houston Chronicle (12/28) reports, “When federal officials lifted the ban on deep-water drilling in early October, Houston-based ATP Oil & Gas was ready to roll. The small production company was finishing up work on a well that tied into its Telemark production hub about 100 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It had filed a permit to drill a sidetrack off an existing well — a relatively low-risk proposal for the world of deep-water drilling. It was even revised and updated to meet all of the new requirements imposed on deep- water permits in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon accident. “So I kept the crew out there because I felt certain the government meant what it said,” ATP Chairman and CEO Paul Bulmahn said – that permit applications that met the new guidelines would be granted. More than 70 days later, the company is still waiting. At a price of about $330,000 per day, Bulmahn has started to get impatient, leading him to take some actions unusual for the company. He wrote a personal letter to President Barack Obama – copied to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (NGP Photo-r) and Michael Bromwich (NGP Photo-l), director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement – pleading with him to “Please issue a permit so we can go back to work.” And on Sunday he ran the letter as an advertisement in the Chronicle. “I can’t afford to keep these workers employed and playing cards,” Bulmahn said.
PNA. The Alaska Legislature’s Division of Legislative Audit has completed a performance audit of the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority for the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, and recommends that the Legislature consider ANGDA for sunset once uncertainties about development of Alaska North....
Juneau Empire. A state legislative audit that suggested the voter-created Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority may be on the cusp of outliving its usefulness and has "stretched the bounds of its statutory authority" drew a sharp rebuttal from its chairperson. ... ANGDA Board Chairman Scott Hayworth (NGP Photo) sent a three-page rejoinder last month to Mark Lundahl of the Division of Legislative Audit stating, in part, that ANGDA's plans changed in response to the ever-changing plans, policies, priorities and funding put forth by the governor and the Legislature.
Sometimes we take a personal privilege prerogative, here, and note the passing of dear friends. One such friend is Bud Greenspan who became a steady friend of Alaska and this writer as our Anchorage Organizing Committee fought to become a venue for the Winter Olympics twenty years ago. Rick Mystrom (NGP Photo-r), Anchorage's former Mayor, and advertising executive Rick Nerland led Anchorage's effort. I served on the AOC Board and was the volunteer 'Television Commissioner'. My role was to develop relationships with the potential network sponsors of Anchorage's effort. All along the way, Bud gave gentle, valuable and consistent counsel and support. He and his dear associate, Nancy Beffa, were also great fun to be around. Aside from being pleasant, they were both so committed to documenting the Olympic Spirit that one always felt blessed to be in their presence, whether it was a coffee shop in Luzon, a laundrymat in Calgary or in their busy New York office, crowded and filled as it always was with films, magazines, books and correspondence. Once, when I had the honor of serving as interim publisher of Alaska Business Monthly, Bud agreed to write and editorial comment which I value to this day and will link here later. Be well, Nancy. Farewell, Bud. See you soon. -dh)
On Christmas, we remembered how our friend, Bill Tobin (NGP Photo), used to include this Christmas Tree every year on the Anchorage Times editorial page. We appreciate the editors of the the Anchorage Daily Planet for carrying on the tradition and reprint Bill's Christmas Tree below as a tribute to our great Alaska predecessors and as a commitment to honor and propogate their pioneering spirit.
Editor's note: Each Christmas over the years, veteran Alaska newsman Bill Tobin offered his own Christmas tree to readers. In his memory, we offer it today:
Governor Defends Alaska - Feds Initiate New Assault on Western Natural Resource Activity - More Legislators Defend Economy
Do NGP Readers Really Think Our Economic Enemies Are Relaxing During the Christmas Season?
Should Our Readers Be Less Vigilant During Holidays Than Our Soldiers In Afghanistan and Iraq?
Are America's Freedoms More Threatened By The Taliban Or By Our Economic Enemies Within?
Lest We Forget: How Hardwon Our Freedoms Are!
Comment: Lest readers think this Christmas season brings any diminishing of the Federal economic assault on Alaska, we note:
- Governor Sean Parnell's (NGP Photo) Defense against Federal overreaching jurisdiction claimed success in the U.S. District Court this week.
- This success came on the heels of the Administration's notification to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (NGP Photo) earlier this week of its intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service over the expansive designation of critical habitat for polar bears, which have been listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
- Earlier in the month, Governor Parnell's administration filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Alaska against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over the agency’s decision to significantly curtail fishing in the western Aleutian Islands out of concern for Steller sea lions.
- Finally, in this AP story carried by ADN (Kristen Wyatt), one notes the assault on job producing natural resource development continues on other fronts: "The Obama administration plans to reverse a Bush-era policy and make millions of undeveloped acres, including some in Alaska, again eligible for federal wilderness protection, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday. ... This backdoor approach is intended to circumvent both the people who will be directly affected and Congress,” said Washington Rep. Doc Hastings (NGP Photo-l), a Republican tapped to lead the House Natural Resources Committee when the GOP takes control of the House in January. ... BLM Director Bob Abbey (NGP Photo-r) said it hasn’t been decided how many acres are expected to be designated as “Wild Lands” and whether those acres will be off-limits to motorized recreation or commercial development while under congressional review. It’s also unclear whether there will be a time limit on how long acres can be managed as “Wild Lands” before a decision is made on their future. ... Alaska Rep. Don Young (NGP Photo-l) said he was disgusted by Salazar’s decision. 'I will do everything in my power to stop this overreaching by the Administration and to work with the state of Alaska to keep the government's hands off our lands', Young said." (See yesterday's Interior Department Christmas Present Release for America's Ailing Economy! Here is an APRN audio story.)
- A more personal comment: On this eve of Christmas, let us, indeed, worship the One for whom the 'holiday' is named. Let us also give thanks to our Lord for the freedoms He, through the faith of our forefathers, bestowed on this People. Then, let us carry that faith forward, always maintaining a wary eye on domestic or foreign efforts to diminish our freedoms and the economy which sustains our prosperity and our national defense. Finally, we recall this verse from Recessional, by Rudyard Kipling which readers might find applicable today! -dh
God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
Here, our readers will find a list of citizens who commented by the deadline this week on a federal decision to permit or disallow Shell Oil's Beaufort Sea exploration program to proceed in 2011. The latest are, Senator
Lesil McGuire (NGP Photo-l) and Senator Charlie Huggins (NGP Photo-r).
...and we're happy to give you a link to new comments HERE, by Representative Bob Lynn (NPG Photo-l), Steve Hites (NGP Photo-r) of Skagway.
Tulsa World by Becky Bohrer. Federal analysts believe it will not be economical to build a major natural gas pipeline in Alaska for at least the next 20 years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says in a recent report.
Calgary Herald by Dina O'Meara. A recent report by U.S. energy regulators throws TransCanada Corp.'s proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline into question, suggesting shipping Arctic gas south won't economically feasible for at least two decades.