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Northern Gas Pipelines is your public service 1-stop-shop for Alaska and Canadian Arctic energy commentary, news, history, projects and people. It is informal and rich with new information, updated daily. Here is the most timely and complete Arctic gas pipeline and northern energy archive available anywhere—used by media, academia, government and industry officials throughout the world. Northern Gas Pipelines may be the oldest Alaska blog; we invite readers to suggest others existing before 2001.


March 2011 Archives

Yesterday, Anchorage Hosts Huge Pro-Investment Climate Rally

31 March 2011 1:54am

Sean Parnell

Rachael PetroComment.  Yesterday, a dozen non-profit organizations representing most of Alaska's population gathered a thousand citizens to support the investment climateLesil McGuire sentiment behind HB 110 that would modify the state's onerous oil tax policy.  State Chamber of Commerce President Rachael Petro (NGP Photo-L) introduced Senator Lesil McGuire (NGP Photo).  McGuire was followed by Governor Sean Parnell (NGP Photo) who energized the audience with a compelling call to action.  Skagway tourism Guru Steve Hites (NGP Photo-L) completed the formal presentations with an empassioned plea for Alaskans to become educated, work together and avoid the pain of a future economy not supported by the massive wealth generated by the Trans Alaska Pipeline.  He urged a charged up audience to "...leave today with a shared sense of Steve Hitesurgency."  -dh


ADN/AP by Dan Joling.  The governor took aim Wednesday at what he called "do-nothing senators" skeptical of his tax legislation that would dial back progressively higher taxes as oil prices increase. Petroleum company investment is at a standstill and the industry will continue to invest elsewhere, threatening the long-term life of the trans-Alaska pipeline, unless something is done, he said in remarks punctuated by applause.  ...  State Sen. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, voted for the measure but said at the rally she regrets doing so.  "I'm sad that I voted for ACES," she said. "I apologize that I voted for ACES."
The Legislature, she said, in 2007 had replaced a fiscal regime with another one that was not working.
"ACES is the product of what I would call a 30-day race, a sprint, on the part of good people who truly care about this state who were given information in a tight, compressed circumstance," she said. "And most of those people, most of those people, if you ask them today, will tell you that they got it wrong. They went too far."  (More Event Photos Below.)


(Note: your author is attending a Propane Conference today and will complete the story with photos later today.  Note our earlier ANS propane story, here)

Sandy Parnell

Sandy ParnellCameron Eggers

Cameron EggersErik Thede

 Erik Thede


Alaska's House of Representatives Is Poised To Improve Alaska's Investment Climate But the Senate Doubts, Like Thomas.

30 March 2011 5:58am

Anchorage readers can attend a rally-luncheon today aimed at improvement of Alaska's investment climate.  Almost 1,000 citizens are already registered  Information here!  Scroll down to read our stories over the last few days.

Calgary Herald by Dave Cooper.  ...it is no secret the oilsands are a growing contributor to provincial coffers...CERI paints a picture of declining production and royalties from Alberta's natural gas industry for the rest of the decade, but sharply rising oilsands royalties....   (Alaska State Officials Take Note:  When Alberta increased its royalty take, revenue declined; when itGARY STEVENS reduced its royalty take, the investment climate improved and revenues increased.  -dh)

Commentary.  While the Alaska House of Representatives is poised to pass investment climate improvement legislation, Alaska's State Senate is like a doubting Thomas who can only learn from hard-won personal experience--a doubting Thomas who has no faith in the free market, who only believes in government controls.  -dh   *    ADN by Sean Cockerham.  Senate leaders said Tuesday the governor has failed to sell his plan to cut oil taxes by billions of dollars, and they're not interested in taking the gamble that it's going to lead to more drilling.  "It does seem to me like the administration has not done a particularly good job of defending its bill. They have not explained the repercussions of the bill. They have not been able to delineate specifically the advantages that we get if we do away with those taxes," said Senate President Gary Stevens (NGP Photo).

On the Federal Investment Climate Front:

The feds have placed a deadline of March 31 on commenting about its proposed 2012-2017 leasing program.  Readers may  click here to the Consumer Energy Alliance website for a 10 second, painless way to comment.   *     Our good reader, Richard Berkowitz, sent us this NYT link, by William Yardley.  Yet nothing seems to generate more legal work here than Alaska’s wildlife. The more federal protections for wildlife there are, the harder it can be for the state to develop natural resources. And while the Parnell administration has attacked the growth of the federal government, it has grown a bit itself in fighting back. It recently created a new position for a lawyer who deals specifically with issues involving the Endangered Species Act.

E&E Daily News: Dems, enviros critical of GOP energy proposal.  A sweeping House GOP proposal to accelerate oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and open new areas for future leasing and development drew praise from industry groups but garnered early jeers from Democrats and environmental groups.   *     Los Angeles Times Blog: Gas prices spur move to open offshore drilling in California, Alaska, East Coast.  With high gas prices once again becoming a high-octane political issue, House Republicans on Tuesday launched a drive to open up more coastal areas to oil drilling, including a stretch off Southern California.   *     Commentary:  Our U.S. House of Representatives hero is Eastern Washington State's Doc Hastings (NGP Photo).  Hastings is Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and held a press conference yesterday to announce the introduction of 3 bills related to offshore energy.  
--Bill #1 – Open Up the OCS:  Establish legal requirements for Applications for Permit to Drill; a judicial review section and a 30 day review requirement will be a focal of this bill.
--Bill #2 – Force OCS Lease Sales in parts of GOM and VA (220) 
--Bill #3 - Reverse Obama de-facto moratorium, with a focus on the 2012-2017 5YP.     

Today We Face Alaska's Two Greatest Economic Issues

29 March 2011 9:57am

Comment.  Alaska's economic lifeline, the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline (TAPS) could cease operations five years from now as throughput diminishes, or tomorrow--due to cold, lethargic througput and a minor malfunction.  This fact is critical to every Alaskan family, since all citizens depend on TAPS throughput for almost 90% of the state operating budget and over a third of the entire economy.  Best sources for new oil to replenish declining TAPS throughput: Federal OCS, Federal On-Shore and State On- and Off-shore oil and gas reserves.  The biggest impediment to bringing these giant reserves into TAPS is 1. Alaska's investment climate and, 2.  the investment climate created by federal policies.

1.  State investment climate policy.  Anchorage readers can plan to attend a rally tomorrow aimed at improvement of Alaska's investment climate.  Information here!  Scroll down to read our stories over the last few days.  See today's ADN piece by Sean Cockerham.

2.  Federal investment climate policy.  

  • Please vote now to support American jobs and keep American dollars in America by federal policies allowing development of domestic energy resources.  Costco may take this site down anytime, so vote right away by simply clicking here.
  • The feds have placed a deadline of March 31 on commenting about its proposed 2012-2017 leasing program.  Please click here to the Consumer Energy Alliance website for a 10 second, painless way to comment.

Energy Challenges Abound: Solutions are Elusive

28 March 2011 7:54am

While Fairbanks' -- And All Of Alaska's -- Economy Approaches Catastrophe, Fairbanks Senator Joe Paskvan (NGP Photo),Joe Paskvan  Resists Efforts to Change Production Tax to Fill Pipeline Lifeline.  (-dh comment)

Petroleum News 

  • Alan Baily and Kristen Nelson.  In February Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. President Tom Barrett told the Alaska House Resources Committee that the trans-Alaska oil pipeline system, known as TAPS, had come close to the brink of a major outage when forced into a winter shutdown following an oil leak in January at pump station one, at....
  • On March 31 the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. will present its annual 10-year projection of potential resource extraction projects in Alaska. And, with various projects uncertain or on hold thanks to a variety of factors including taxation, environmental permitting, high development costs and...
  • Alan Baily.  Senator Mark Begich (NGP Photo) proposes Arctic Coordinator.  (Comment.  We credit the good senator for trying to clean up after the leader of his party.  However, if the Obama AdministrMark Begichation were doing its job, a "coordinator of regulators" would be unnecessary.  Since the Administration is not doing its job, pretext is given to establish a new bureaucracy which may, but likely will not, create more competence within the Federal regulatory structure.  One guesses that the new position -- like that of the gas pipeline Federal Coordinator -- will be extremely sensitive to direction from the President, whose Administration has created such energy policy chaos in the first place.  In short, if Obama wanted to stimulate more domestic production he could easily do so without manufacturing another bureaucracy over which he exercises control.  In truth, Obama is the Federal Coordinator and no shuffling of people or creation of new positions will change that raw fact.  -dh)
The Hill: Offshore oil drilling fight heats up.  The rhetoric about domestic oil drilling reached a fever pitch in Washington this week with the Obama administration touting the approval of more Gulf deepwater drilling permits and Republicans countering that the pace of permitting is still too slow. 

Calgary Herald, by David Finch.  In 1971, the federal government said we had plenty of petroleum.  By its estimates, Canada had a 392-year supply of gas and enough oil for 923 years. But the OPEC crisis of the 1970s proved otherwise.  Today's prognosticators are saying the price of natural gas will stay low forever, that we can use it instead of coal, and that the recently discovered supplies of shale gas will keep prices depressed indefinitely.

Where is Alaska's State Senate Leadership? - Can This Representative Be Trusted To Lead and Not Mislead?

25 March 2011 5:21am

It all comes down to leadership, doesn't it?

Gary StevensComment:  This week we saw State House of Representatives consensus Sean Parnelldeveloping in support of Governor Sean Parnell's (NGP Photo-r) investment climate legislation aimed at improving Alaska's onerous oil and gas tax regime (Although some representatives continue to oppose the investment climate initiative: see below).  This morning we hear that the Alaska State Senate President, Gary Stevens (NGP Photo) "doesn't see the votes" to pass critical investment climate legislation.  To this, we say, Mr. President, if you don't see the votes today, you better darn well summon an overdue sense of urgency and your leadership skills and put together the votes unless you want to see investment continue to flee the state, pipeline throughput continue to decline, sustainability of the state's economy continue to erode, an Alaska future for today's high school and college students continue to fail in favor of opportunity elsewhere.  -dh

Comment: On Monday, the Alaska State House of Representatives Finance Committee heard testimony from approximately two Mike Doogandozen witnesses.  As I recall, none was employed by an oil company.  They included Alaska Native regional corporation and village corporation leaders along with private individuals, non-profit organizations and small businesses.  Unanimously, they testified in favor of improving Alaska's investment climate by restructuring the state's confiscatory production tax law along the lines of Governor Parnell's HB 110.  Representative Mike Doogan (NGP Photo) was one of a dozen legislators present to hear the testimony.  In last night's Channel 2 (NBC affiliate, KTUU) news, Doogan reportedly made a statement that is one of the clearest examples of a public official misleading the public ever witnessed by this observer: “We’re not hearing from anything but the industry people so far, which I think gives us a pretty one-sided view of what’s going on. That’s certainly not going to be satisfactory to me,” said Rep. Mike Doogan.  One supposes Doogan could try to split hairs and say, "Well what I meant was that while the witnesses Monday weren't actual oil company employees, they were certainly folks dependent on the oil industry."  But if he did so, any citizen could respond, "Well, since over a third of the economy and 90% of the state operating budget is based on oil, there's not one single Alaskan not dependent in one way or another on declining oil production."  -dh

Alaskans are Facing the Perfect Storm (Economic)

24 March 2011 5:02am

The Federal government is choking Alaska's economy by blocking access to what should be multiple-use as well as petroleum-designated lands.  The State government is strangling Alaska's investment climate with an illogical, suicidal tax regime.  It is the perfect, economic storm.  In recent weeks, we've urged readers to participate in federal hearings.  The Resource Development Council for Alaska (RDC) and dozens of other Alaska organizations and companies are urging Alaskans to visit their local Legislative Information Offices at 5 pm this afternoon and speak in support of HB110.  This bill will work to increase throughput in the Trans Alaska Pipeline and make Alaska more competitive. The Trans Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) is two-thirds empty and throughput is rapidly falling. This alarming trend must be stopped or the pipeline could  cease operations in just a few years!  Imagine Alaska's economy without the oil industry.  New taxes would likely be placed on every family and business in Alaska, from mining to fishing to tourism to logging just to pay for our government.  Think about the jobs we'd lose too--nearly 50% of our state's jobs are closely tied to the oil industry.  Your testimony WILL make an impact.  For points to include in your testimony, you can see RDC's most recent newsletter and talking points at:  http://akrdc.org/legislature/2011/messagepoints.pdf - http://akrdc.org/newsletters/2011/march.pdf (Commentary: RDC and DH)

Today, we hear that Anchorage's municipal utility will negotiate with Cook Inlet Region, Inc. to obtain electricity generated by a wind farm soon to take form on Fire Island, adjacent to the Anchorage International Airport. -dh  ADN.

Yesterday, the Anchorage Mayor's Energy Task Force  .... (more coming)


Can Senator Mark Begich Turn The Tide of Federal Hostility?

23 March 2011 7:19am

Much more information and many photos from Monday's House Finance Hearing will be posted as soon as possible!

Comment.  In this ADN story by Becky Bohrer, Senator Mark Begich (NGP Photo) seemsMark Begich convinced that constituent pressures arising from high gasoline prices will spur federal policies in Alaska's favor.  Since every single federal action involving Alaska natural resources in the last two years has been hostile and in some cases irreversibly debilitating, we hope current circumstances help Senator Begich turn these terrible policies on their ear!   *   Now headed for Anchorage Mayor's Energy Task Force Meeting and then a Commonwealth North Luncheon to see the state oil and gas tax policy study released.   ...more to come.   -dh

Alaska Seems United on HB110: Is Alaska's Legislature Ignoring Reality?

22 March 2011 9:34am

This week is the anniversary of Governor Jay Hammond's (NGP Photo) historic, non-partisan news conference in 1981 whichJay Hammond produced a 'fair share' oil and gas tax plan.  It was a roughly one-third split of Prudhoe Bay's economic rent (i.e. royalty, severance tax, property tax, state and federal income tax) among the Federal Government (36%), Producers (34%) and State Government (30%).  The legislation made the oil income tax non-discriminatory, increased the severance tax and repealed the personal income tax on citizens--among other things.  While listeners will identify no love lost for producing companies, they will find it noteworthy that the press conference followed a decade of annual industry tax increases and preceeded roughly two decades of tax stability and massive, additional Alaska oil and gas investments.  Tax increases during the last decade have dramatically raised Alaska's 'take' from Prudhoe Bay at the expense of producers. This trend comes at a time when without more producer investment the Trans Alaska Pipeline will surely cease operations in a few years.  Based on testimony from the TAPS CEO (See last weekend story below), that shutdown could occur in a few years--absent increased oil production and pipeline throughput--or any day in response to mechanical problems.  In this webpage we have extensively reported on how the Federal government's hostile oil and gas policy has also contributed to a threatened shutdown of TAPS.   -dh

1.  Today: The ADN Op-Ed reflects the sense of urgency shared by most knowledgable Alaskans.   ADN Op-Ed byTom Maloney Tom Maloney.  ... In 2005, the state predicted TAPS production would average 832,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2010. Actual production was 644,000, 22 percent less than forecast. In 2005, the state forecast 762,000 bpd in 2015. Yet current production is 630,000 bpd and falling.  Oil production is declining faster than expected. Could it be Alaskans have been trumped by ACES?  We cannot get new oil into the pipeline without new drilling. How much progress has Alaska made since ACES was enacted? The number of exploration wells drilled on the North Slope has fallen from 18 in 2007 to one this year, a reduction of 95 percent. Development drilling is also down. Throughput in TAPS declined by 18,000 bpd in 2008, 24,000 bpd in 2009, and 48,000 bpd in 2010. The sharp decline has raised concerns that current forecasts are too optimistic. 

2.  Yesterday:  Commentary.  The Alaska House Finance Committee yesterday heard the most impressive array of public policyDennis Hebner testimony this writer has witnessed in four decades of "Legislature Watching" (More event photos below).  It was impressive for two reasons: 1) witnesses represented the overwhelming majority of Alaskans and 2) witnesses successfully communicated the looming economic reality we have covered for several years in this webpage: "Without decisive and immediate investment climate improvement Alaska's economy and prosperity are destined for an imminent 'crash'".  The day began with a turnout of two dozen citizens with "Pass HB 110" signs greeting legislators coming to work (Photo: Dennis Hebner, SteelFab).  Witnesses were 'invited' and all supported passage of legislation to improve Alaska's oil and gas investment climate.  One might conclude that other Alaskans might have testified against the legislation (HB 110).  However, one also notes that witnesses probably represented 90% of Alaska's population--unlike the 'hit and run' KTUU report which did not fairly communicate the true tone of the all-day event--providing unambiguous support for tax improvements.  Though the Committee heard many witnesses without questions, the questions asked could roughly be segmented into "soft ball" questions by the majority of Members favoring passage of HB 110 and "gotcha attempt" questions posed by a minority of Members appearing to oppose modification to Alaska's confiscatory severance regime.    

Our detailed story and photos are under construction and we plan to update them.   (KTUU Story)  -dh

Event Photos (more coming):

Today A Legislative Committee Meets In Anchorage To Decide Whether to Improve the Investment Climate or NOT - Mackenzie Project Struggles Forward With Fiscal Framework

21 March 2011 6:46am

Sean ParnellComment.  Today, the House Finance Committee will meet in the Anchorage legislative information office beginning at 9 a.m., to take testimony on HB 110, which would modify the most onerous oil and gas tax-royalty structure in North America.  Readers will note from yesterday's story below that the State's economic lifeline could be severed any day.  By not rapidly improving Alaska's investment climate as Alberta did (and as the NWT is trying to do - see story below) and by maintaining a complex array and huge burden of royalties, property taxes, income taxes and the predatory production tax, Alaska's legislative leaders are betting that the Trans Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) lifeline will not lose critical throughput in the next 5-10 years and that a mechanical malfunction or act of God will not cause a shutdown today, tomorrow or next month.  Reducing taxes to make Alaska more competitive, as the Governor Sean Parnell (NGP Photo) has

We've Been Giving a Wake-up Call for Over A Year - Now the Alyeska Pipeline Expert Speaks

20 March 2011 4:29pm

ADN/AP.  The state's economic artery, the trans-Alaska pipeline, could require expensive upgrades or even shut down if more oil doesn't begin coursing through it soon, the line's operator said Friday.  "This needs to Thomas Barrettbe a wake-up call for Eric Lidjithe state," Tom Barrett (NGP Photo-r), president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., told the House Finance Committee.  


PNA by Eric Lidji (NGP Photo-l).  Escopeta Oil loaded a Spartan 151 jack-up rig onto a heavy lift vessel at a dock in Freeport, Texas, and it set sail for Cook Inlet on Friday.

ADN/AP.  The state's economic artery, the trans-Alaska pipeline, could require expensive upgrades or even shut down if more oil doesn't begin coursing through it soon, the line's operator said Friday.  "This needs to be a wake-up call for the state," Tom Barrett (NGP Photo-r), president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., told the House Finance Committee.  


PNA by Eric Lidji (NGP Photo-l).  Escopeta Oil loaded a Spartan 151 jack-up rig onto a heavy lift vessel at a dock in Freeport, Texas, and it set sail for Cook Inlet on Friday.