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      This is your public service 1-stop-shop for Alaskan and Canadian Arctic energy commentary, news, history, projects and people. We update it daily for you. It is the most timely and complete northern energy archive 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 name others existing before 2001.  -dh


2012 Archives


31 August 2012 5:49am


Alaska Dispatch by Craig Medred.  U.S. Secretary of theKen Salazar, OCS, Chukchi, Shell, Photo by Dave Harbour Interior Ken Salazar (NGP Photo) shocked even Shell itself by announcing the company could proceed with preliminary drilling of a single well in the empty sea 61 miles from this village.  Salazar did impose limits. The company must stop drilling nearly a mile short of any expected pools of oil and gas. Still, the conditional approval will allow Shell to finally get to work after six years of waiting. At Shell's headquarters in Anchorage, the mood was optimistic.  



Consumer Energy Alliance News Clips: August 31, 2012
PoliticoShell gets partial Arctic approval on Romney’s big day  **CEA & David Holt mentioned in article.  “It certainly is an interesting time for the determination, given Shell’s request was originally made last week,” said David Holt, president of the Consumer Energy Alliance. “You can assume the Department of Interior did need some time to review the application but it’s understandable why an announcement on the day of Romney’s acceptance of the Republican nomination would be viewed with some suspicion. Regardless, this development is welcome news for the U.S. economy and consumer and is good news for our economy and energy security.”
New York TimesU.S. Approves an Initial Step in Oil Drilling Near Alaska - The Interior Department granted Shell permission on Thursday to begin preparatory work on its first well in the Arctic Ocean, moving the company a critical step forward on its tortuous quest to drill for oil off the coast of Alaska. Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, said that Shell could conduct the initial steps in drilling in the Chukchi Sea, putting down as much as 1,400 feet of well casing to support the required blowout preventer, a device meant to shut down a runaway well. The move delighted the company, which has spent more than $4 billion and six years preparing for extensive exploratory activities in the Arctic. But environmental advocates expressed dismay, saying that neither the company nor the government was prepared to handle the risks of drilling in the fragile and unforgiving region.
Houston ChronicleEnergy industry willing to pay to put light on its issues - Natural gas boosters are handing out espresso to bleary-eyed delegates at the Republican National Convention, the American Petroleum Institute is throwing a big bash for pols at the event, and industry leaders are participating in panels to highlight energy policy ahead of Election Day. For energy companies and trade groups, the four-day rallies for party faithful are a chance to spread their message to a captive audience of reporters, delegates and elected officials. And this year, they’re doing a lot more of it – both with the GOP in Tampa and with the Democrats in Charlotte, N.C., next week. “We knew we’d have everybody’s focus,” said Marty Durbin, vice president for governmental affairs at the American Petroleum Institute. “So we wanted to make sure we were here and visible and participating in as many of the policy discussions as we can.”
Washington PostHurricane Isaac drives up gas prices. Could that affect the election? - Ever since making landfall on Tuesday, the Isaac weather system—which was eventually downgraded from “hurricane” to “tropical storm”—has been inflicting a fair bit of damage on the Gulf Coast. The suburbs of New Orleans are flooding, and the storm has knocked out power to 600,000 homes and businesses across Louisiana. Yet there’s another side effect of the storm that could ripple across the entire country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Isaac has forced 93 percent of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico to come to a halt. That’s a loss of 1.3 million barrels daily of crude, about 22 percent of all U.S. oil production. Five gasoline refineries in the Gulf and four crude pipelines have also closed temporarily.
Houston ChronicleCompanies prepare to return to the Gulf - As Isaac rumbles slowly across Louisiana, leaving floodwaters, downed trees and power outages in its soggy wake, energy companies are preparing to resume operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the coast, refinery crews have begun to assess the damage to prepare to restart, too. BP said it will attempt fly-over surveys of key facilities in the Gulf as weather permits and then begin redeploying offshore personnel. Chevron said it has begun to deploy personnel to both onshore and offshore facilities to assess the impact of Hurricane Isaac, although it declined to compact on any possible impact to operations.
Houston ChronicleMany coastal refineries soaked and idle - Pump prices continued to rise as downgraded Tropical Storm Isaac drenched Louisiana, even though concern about gasoline supplies seemed to vanish Wednesday. Isaac hampered oil companies for a third straight day, however, keeping workers away from massive plants and knocking out power to one of the many Gulf Coast refineries that had been shut down. Ten Gulf Coast refineries with combined crude oil processing capacity of about 2.4 million barrels a day were offline or running at reduced rates Wednesday, according to the Oil Price Information Service. That includes about 10 percent of the nation’s gasoline production capacity, the service reported.


8-30-12 Murkowski Lauds Feds For Shell Decision

30 August 2012 7:31am

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski's (NGP Photo) office this morning U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Shell Decision, BSEE, Chukchi, Beaufort, Arctic OCS, Photo by  released the following comment regarding a decision by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) to allow Shell to conduct preparatory work in the Chukchi Sea this summer.  “Today’s decision is a positive step that will allow Shell to begin necessary preparatory work, while maintaining the highest environmental standards to ensure the protection of the Arctic,” Murkowski said. “While we would all like to see a discovery this summer, the most important thing is for Shell to continue to make progress and demonstrate once again that Arctic drilling can be done safely.”  Thursday’s BSEE announcement will allow Shell to build a mudline cellar and install pre-drilling infrastructure in the Chukchi Sea before the Coast Guard gives final approval of its containment vessel.  “While many environmental activists continue to cast doubt on Arctic production, we know from experience that development can be carried out safely – more than 100 wells have been drilled in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas since the 1970s,” said Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast contain an Senator Mark Begich, Chukchi, Salazar, Shell approval, Photo by Dave Harbourestimated 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the federal government.     *      NGP received another statement from U.S. Senator Mark Begich (NGP Photo) this afternoon. -dh  "U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today released the following statement after Interior Sec. Ken Salazar announced a permit is being issued to Shell for limited preparatory activities in relation to the company’s exploration plan in the Chukchi Sea:  'I am pleased to see the Interior Department recognizes the importance of moving ahead with exploratory drilling this summer.  'Today’s decision shows flexibility while not sacrificing safety. This allows us to get one step closer to understanding and moving forward on the energy potential of the Arctic.'"

Calgary Herald, by James Wood.  Finance Minister Doug Horner said even with ongoing price volatility, the government's finances aren't about to run off the rails.

Commentary: Yesterday we commended two Legislators for consistently defending Alaska's constitution and natural resource economic base against federal overreach.  Most recently, they urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a timely Record of Decision on the Point Thomson Project.  Today, we note that DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan (NGP Photo)  and North Slope Mayor Charlotte Brower dispatched a similar message, found in this letter, and released a memorandum of understanding encouraging inhanced collaboration between the State and Borough.  Cheers for all.  But the Point Thomson ball is still in the Feds' court and we harbor no illusions that the Corps' overlords will be more supportive now than in the past, in allowing just and reasonable adjudication of Alaska natural resource issues.   -dh









Commentary (Note that we are always open to additions or corrections and rebuttals):

  • Today the Alaska Dispatch continued what can be expected (based on its commentary over the last year) to grow into its own media blitz against reform of Alaska's predatory oil and gas tax regime.
  • Yesterday, the Alaska Dispatch provided a news report/commentary piece covering results of a Coastal Management Ballot Initiative that could have dealt a mortal blow to natural resource development in Alaska, and ultimately to the State's economy.  Below is our review of that piece:
Commentary:  We have great admiration for the amazing progress and communication contributions of the Alaska Dispatch but grow more and more disappointed with its criticism of the way Alaska makes a living--resource development.  We would also prefer that news reports be objective and that editorials be separated from news reports and properly labeled--lest they be thought of a propagandistic.  
Yesterday's Alaska Dispatch report on Tuesday's election was thorough but somewhat one-sided and wandered from factual reporting to editorializing on behalf of what appeared to be its own special interest favorites.  
We have openly editorialized here about how yesterday's vote on Proposition 2 would challenge Alaska's Constitution by usurping roles of the Legislative and Administrative branches of government.  We have always tried to identify our opinion as commentary and never as factual reporting.  
The Dispatch writers first name major business supporters for defeat of Proposition 2 (as if they were demons), make short shrift of the special interests supporting the proposition -- and their consistently anti-resource development views -- then conclude, editorially, that "In the end, it would appear that the money may have won out."  
The editorial/news writers quote an environmental spokesman but not one representing the successful "No on 2" effort.  They conveniently ignore the history of the issue, namely that the a coastal management program passed the House with stunning bipartisan support, was stopped by the Senate and a new, unworkable version recreated in the form of Proposition 2 after the Legislature adjourned.  Finally, the editorial/news writers do not admit even the shred of possibility that the folks who voted 'No' (i.e. the majority) could have been persuaded by the merits and not by advertising money.   
We hope for consistency's -- if not integrity's -- sake that had the supporters of Proposition 2 won and raised more money than opponents, the Dispatch writers would have commented that the proposition won not on the merits, but because, 'it would appear that the money may have won out'.   -dh 

8-29-12 - Proud Of Two Legislators

29 August 2012 7:46am

Calgary Herald by Bryce Forbes.  The pilot killed in a crash in southern Alberta on Sunday was patrolling pipelines when the plane went down.

We Are Proud of Two Legislators and Lamenting Our Loss Of Faith In American 'Rule of Law"

Commentary By

Dave Harbour

Cathy Giessel, Photo by Dave Harbour, US Corps of Engineers, Point Thomson, 404 permitsCharisse Millett, Photo by Dave Harbour, Point Thomson, OCS, 404 permitOver the last four 'Obama Years' no Alaska legislators have been more diligent than Senator Cathy Giessel (NGP Photo-R) and Representative Charisse Millett (NGP Photo) in joining with Governor Sean Parnell to oppose the continuing flood of federal attacks against Alaska natural resource development.

Most recently, the two have written federal offices "urging" the granting of permits required under the Clean Water Act before another winter work season is lost. (i.e. Giessel letter, and Millett letter)

First applied for three years ago, the permits would allow development of the Point Thomson oil field on the Alaska North Slope (ANS) which contains about a third of the 35Tcf of ANS natural gas proven reserves including a prodigious supply of petroleum liquids.  If transported to Prudhoe Bay via a small diameter pipeline, the petroleum liquids existing under high pressure in the field could be used to enhance recovery of Prudhoe Bay oil reserves and slightly work against the declining throughput of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS).  

TAPS is 2/3 empty now and this American Energy Lifeline (which once transported 20% of domestic oil reserves) is within sight of closure.  Without new reserves from various adjacent ANS areas, it could close within the decade, leaving high and dry Alaska's state operating budget that is 90% dependent on ANS oil.  A vanished TAPS could also create a hit on Alaska's economy, almost 1/2 dependent on the direct and indirect economic activity produced by sale of ANS crude oil.  Alaska would again become a ward of the federal government after depleting its various savings accounts in relatively short order.

Waiting in the wings is an area within ANWR (i.e. 1002 area), designated by Congress for oil production.  The Obama Administration's Interior Department via its Fish and Wildlife Department is developing recommendations to convert that area into untouchable wilderness.  

Congress has also designated a "National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska" for oil and gas exploration and development but the Obama Administration's Interior Department via its Bureau of Land Management has developed recommendations to convert the most important transportation corridors and exploration areas into untouchable wilderness.   This follows several frustrating years wherein the Administration's EPA and Corps of Engineers for specious, indefensible reasons delayed granting of bridge access to ConocoPhillips.  This is in an area for which the company had purchased federal government leases it reasonably expected to develop.

Also adjacent to the Alaska North Slope are the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas whose shallow waters (about 150' in the exploration area) contain some of the most exciting prospects for oil and gas exploration and development.  Perhaps two dozen billion barrels of oil there, or more, could support over 50 thousand jobs per year throughout America, decrease our dependence on foreign oil, reduce the balance of payments deficit and add billions in federal revenue (i.e. and a good deal to local treasuries assuming Congress passes a revenue sharing bill for Alaska like that which benefits Gulf of Mexico states).  Shell Oil and other companies have purchased from the Interior Department over $2 billion in leases with the reasonable expectation of being able to explore and develop them.  The companies have spent another $2 billion preparing for work during the brief, summer exploration seasons.   However, the Obama Administration's Interior Department, EPA and Corps of Engineers have year after year delayed granting of several of the several dozen key permits required.   Shell is within days of having to pull the plug on yet another summer exploration season following this 2012 summer silly season of Federal keystone cops bureaucratic bungling.

This litany of anti-Alaska resource development federal attacks doesn't even include efforts to designate nearly 200,000 square miles of coastal area as 'critical habitat' (under the Endangered Species Act) for Polar Bears, even as their populations increase.  The litany does not include federal efforts to designate valuable fishing grounds as 'critical habitat' for Steller Sea Lions, even as their populations increase.  This litany does not include federal efforts to designate Alaska's most populace area around Anchorage as 'critical habitat' for Beluga Whales, even though their populations are increasing.  We also have not mentioned EPA efforts to derail legally permitted projects on state lands after leases have been tendered but before permits have been applied for--a gross violation of due process.  Finally, we have not listed here the litany of horrible economic effects and losses of freedom that will surely follow Obama's pending execution of his non-Congressinally approved or funded project to "zone the oceans".  Ocean zoning will prevent thousands of human activities now legally permissable from ocean areas up thousands of miles of rivers and streams throughout interior America--including the Great Lakes.  The project has been initiatied by Executive Order and money legally appropriated for other purposes has been illegally used like a slush fund at White House direction to support planning for ocean zoning.

Accordingly, as we praise Senator Giessel and Representative Millett, we now have experience and evidence suggesting that one way or another federal gatekeepers will take further action to stop or stall Point Thomson activity and Arctic OCS activity this year.   If the agencies do permit these projects in the next few days, it will be a case of very little, very late...maybe too late.  The sad thing is that even if some permits are belatedly approved, it will be with our suspicion that the approvals are motivated more by an upcoming election than by the desire to 'do the right thing' for America.

For those who think we are too hard on Obama and his federal-environmental cabal, please note that we began this four year term with reserved judgment and a high degree of respect for the new Administration, the rule of law and those entrusted with the power to reasonably regulate federal policies in Alaska.  Experience has taught us that this Administration determines outcomes and virtually ignores common sense, public hearing input and due process.  Accordingly, we have much reason, now, for criticizing this Administration whose greatest failing may well be the destruction of our faith in America's rule of law.  Instead of being objective and reasonable, exercise of the federal rule of law in Alaska and perhaps elsewhere around the country is now fully demonstrated to be arbitrary, capricious and subject to undue influence by environmental extremist groups.

Many of us have lost faith in the trustworthiness of our federal government that will take a determined effort and a new generation of leaders to restore.



28 August 2012 6:47am

ADN, by Lisa Demer.Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senate, Energy, Natural Resources, Ron Wyden, Alaska, Photo by Dave Harbour  Sen. Lisa Murkowski (NGP Photo), R-Alaska,Ron Wyden, U.S. Senate, Alaska Visit, Oregon, Photo by Dave Harbour on Monday wrapped up an "energy tour" of Alaska with Democratic colleague Ron Wyden (NGP Photo) of Oregon that included a renewable energy fair, a geothermal plant at Chena Hot Springs, and an offshore oil platform in Cook Inlet.  ...  "You're looking at the chairman of the energy committee here. And we're not sure if I'm looking at him or he's looking at me."  Depending on how the November elections go, either she or Wyden is poised to become chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the other will be the ranking minority member, a position Murkowski already holds.


Doyon President Aaron Schutt (NGP Photo), in a press conference and press release, said his company sees a lot of promise in its land and lease holdings in "frontier basins" covered in a bill sponsored by Thompson,HB 276. The bill, which was folded into another tax incentive bill during the end o

The Arctic Imperative Summit wrapped up in Girdwood Monday..., by Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch

f the second legislative session, provides tax incentives and credits for oil and gas in new areas of the state that are brought into production.

"President Schutt validated our office's hard work and efforts to make sure the frontier basin bill became law; that's fantastic,"  Representative Steve Thompson said. "Doyon is the Interior's biggest player in oil and gas today, and when they talk, we listen. The potential for jobs, lower energy costs and a more positive future outlook is amazing. I'm grateful to Doyon for the recognition, and optimistic for Interior energy rate-payers and workers. Lord knows our families and businesses face tough enough decisions, so having something like this on the horizon 7-10 years out is a welcome development."

Key sections of the bill were folded into SB 23. Those were:

Identifying six specific geologic areas that qualify for exploration: Kotzebue and Selawik Basins; Nenana and Yukon Flats; Emmonak; Glennallen and Cooper River area; Egegik; and, Port Moller.

Limiting the number of credits awarded to minimize the cost to the state for four wells in the areas identified with no more than two wells in any one area. The maximum credit would be 80 percent of total exploration expenditures or $25 million, whichever is less.

Providing seismic credits to attract new geophysical analysis, limited to four total projects with one per designated areas. The credit for exploration would be $7.5 million or 75 percent of total costs, whichever is less.

Requiring that all exploration drilling and seismic data collected must be turned over to the state and made available for public release within two years of receiving credit. All credits created in the bill would apply to work performed after June 1, 2012 and before 2016.

Allowing explorers a four percent tax rate for new production, applicable for seven years after production starts.

"Here's an idea we turned into a bill that actually works," Thompson said. "We see the results today. We wanted to stimulate involvement in our remote and truly frontier plays and Doyon stepped up today to do so. Thank you to Doyon, and thank you to my colleagues in the House and Senate for passing this bill." 

8-27-12 Alaska's Governor Accuses Obama Administration of Hurting Alaska's and America's Economies

27 August 2012 8:52am

Last Friday Governor Sean Parnell (NGP Photo) wrote the Chairmen of the Senate and House Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, OCS, Obama, Salazar, Chukchi, Beaufort, Arctic, Photo by Dave Harbourcommittees responsible for energy and natural resource policy.  He said:

"At a press conference recently, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar blamed Shell Oil for the delays in drilling exploration wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.  This premise is  patently false. The attachment clearly displays a pattern of federal obstruction designed to prevent development of Alaska's abundant resource base.  Decisions by the federal administration have negatively impacted Alaska's economy and, in fact, the entire nation. Repeated federal actions have led to countless delays, as  every lease sale proposed in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has been canceled by the Obama Administration, with the exception of one, which was delayed.   At this critical juncture, Alaska is prepared to supply our nation with employment as well as  a secure source of domestic energy, only to be thwarted repeatedly by federal actions designed to impede our progress.   Evidence shows the

INVESTORS HUB.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday his government may contribute to the funding of a proposed pipeline to carry natural gas from the arctic through the Mackenzie Valley in Canada's north. "Because of the underdeveloped nature of the infrastructure, the government has provided some fiscal support to proponents to compensate for that, and that package of support is on the table," Mr. Harper told reporters in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Harper added that the pipeline would have to have a commercial basis. "The proponents themselves have to make decisions as to whether the projects are commercially viable," he said. 

blame lies not with industry, but with the Obama Administration's agenda to prevent oil and gas production on federal lands." (Here is the .pdf).   (Commentary:  We note that the Governor could have listed many contemporary examples of precisely how actions by Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the EPA, BLM, the USFWS and U.S. Coast Guard have more directly delayed Arctic exploration and development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, America's National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and the Congressionally-designated oil and gas exploration area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  The Governor is not exaggerating to say that the Obama Administration has created a, "pattern of federal obstruction designed to prevent development of Alaska's abundant resource base."  -dh)

Alaska Dispatch by Alex DeMarban.  With Arctic riches beckoning as the ice cap crumbles, world and local leaders eyeing the risks and rewards of development in the fragile high north gathered under one roof this weekend for a conversation on possibilities that seem as vast as the region's frigid ocean itself. 

LA TimesShell seeks more time to drill exploratory well in Chukchi Sea.  With its bid to Pete Slaiby, Shell, Chukchi, Beaufort, OCS, Alaska, Photo by Dave Harbourlaunch offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean running up against a deadline to protect against sea ice, Shell Alaska has requested an extension in its window for drilling in the Chukchi Sea. Peter E. Slaiby (NGP Photo) , vice president of the Alaska venture, said Sunday that the company has proposed extending the time allowed for drilling in the Chukchi by slightly less than two weeks beyond the Sept. 24 deadline set by the U.S. Department of Interior to allow time for cleanup of any oil spill before the onset of winter sea ice. Meeting with reporters at an Arctic Imperative Summit here, Slaiby said the company’s latest models for  forecasting the onset of winter sea ice now show the first freeze-up occurring somewhat later than originally envisioned when federal officials imposed their initial deadline for ending operations in the Chukchi


Sea.Houston ChronicleIsaac shutting down production, refineries likely next.  Energy companies intensified their efforts to evacuate workers from the Gulf of Mexico, as companies continued shutting down production. The trend is likely to continue Monday with refinery operations also being suspended. BP said Sunday it had suspended production at all of its operated production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, as it and other energy companies scramble to get ready for Tropical Storm Isaac to blast into the Gulf. The storm was moving across the Florida Keys and toward the Gulf Sunday afternoon, and several of the leading storm-tracking models show a westward shift, with a growing consensus that it will strengthen into a hurricane over the next few days.


Fresno Bee: America makes choices for wrong reasons.  As gas prices climb back toward $4 a gallon, the Obama administration -- facing a tough re-election campaign and rising Middle East tensions -- is once again considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. For years, administrations have bought and stored oil for emergencies, in fear of a cutoff of imported oil, as happened during the Arab embargo of 1973-74. But since 2009, the U.S. government has declared most federal lands off-limits to new oil and gas exploration -- despite vast recent finds of energy and radically new means to tap it. President Obama also canceled the most vital sections of the Keystone pipeline, a proposed conduit from the Canadian oil fields into the heart of the oil-consuming U.S., while preventing production on existing oil and gas reserves in northern Alaska and offshore. In the midst of a crop-killing drought, we are diverting about 40% of our shrinking corn crop to produce high-cost ethanol fuels.


Oil PriceDipping into US Strategic Oil Reserves: A Speculator's Bonanza. The White House is keeping the rumor-mill afloat with hints that it may draw from US strategic oil and petroleum reserves, watching the market respond on the speculation with a slight fall in oil prices, but this is just a testing of the waters.  America has a 696-million barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve stored away in underground salt caverns in two US states, Texas and Louisiana, in the event of an energy supply emergency. It may sound like a lot, but when you consider that the US imports over 300 million barrels of oil and petroleum products monthly, the buried reserves are meager. So when mainstream media starts reporting about “anonymous White House sources” hinting that President Obama is considering releasing oil from the reserve, you have to wonder why. Most likely, they are just testing the potential public response to this.


Houston ChronicleSteffy: Romney plan based on fable of energy independence.  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rolled out an energy plan that bears one disturbing similarity to the Obama administration's. It's rooted in fantasy in the one area that matters the most: domestic oil and gas production. Not surprisingly, Romney's plan is heavily focused on fossil fuels, with only token mentions of alternative energy. It calls for more drilling both onshore and off. While President Barack Obama has struggled to create demand for alternative fuels - a strategy of "pulling" the country toward something it might not otherwise embrace - Romney is trying to "push" what we already have.




Washington PostAlaska pursuing unconventional shale oil development to fill its pipeline.  Canada may have its Albertan oil sands, and North Dakota has its Bakken oil formation. But don’t count Alaska out when it comes to producing unconventional oil. Alaska, which has fallen behind North Dakota in oil output and whose Prudhoe Bay oil fields are waning, is exploring the possibility of extracting oil from the source rock on the state’s North Slope. The state has leased more than half a million acres of its land to exploration companies, and even some environmentalists believe that the shale oil development could be the best way to increase output with relatively modest damage to the environment.




24 August 2012 5:13am

Kenai Peninsula Clarion.  

2. What role should the Legislature play in ensuring the future energy security of Alaska?

Joe Arness: Clearly, some portion of our current income stream should be dedicated to energy security. That would include both renewable and non-renewable sources. Simply giving lip service to such planning will leave us wanting as time goes by...there needs to be a funded, thJoe Arness and Cathy Giesseloughtful program whose purpose is to review and encourage alternatives.
Cathy Giessel: Rising energy costs affect businesses and citizens. The Legislature must act to facilitate an in-state natural gas pipeline, bringing that fuel to as many Alaskans as possible. The Legislature has begun this process through two different pipeline projects. The first was a large diameter pipeline through Canada to the Lower 48, called Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA). Significant natural gas production in the Lower 48 has made that project less likely to proceed.  The Legislature established the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) to pursue a smaller diameter, in-state gasline to supply Alaskans and to allow for exported gas. The Alaska Stand Alone Gas Pipeline (ASAP) was told to find the most economic way to bring gas to Alaskans and to tidewater, either in Prince William Sound or Cook Inlet. AGDC has been making great progress on the ASAP. The State is considering several possibilities for partnering on the project.


23 August 2012 8:00am

Vote 'No' on 2!

ADN Op-Ed by Governor Frank Murkowski (NGP Photo).  The Coastal Zone Planning Initiative that Alaska Governor, Frank Murkowski, Coastal Management Program, Voters Initiative, Photo by Dave Harbourwill appear on the Aug. 28 primary ballot as Measure 2 is very different from the bill that passed the House 40-0 in the 2011 session of the Legislature.  As proof -- only 7 out of 60 Alaska Legislators supported Proposition 2 when it was proposed as legislation in the 2012 session of the Legislature. Remember:

• There had been debate on coastal zone for two years, so Legislators were fully aware of the impact of the differing proposals;
• The vote in the 2011 session showed that all 40 House members and many from industry were willing to support reasonable coastal zone legislation;
• Yet, only seven Legislators supported what will be Measure 2 in the form of legislation -- six Democrats and one Republican from Homer.
If 53 Republicans and Democrats can agree on something, we should all take a step back and really consider what the initiative that will appear will do and won't do.

The Star, Canada.  Ottawa has no plans to step in and revive the stalled Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, a mega-project in limbo because of sagging natural gas prices.  Ultimately, such projects have to commercially viable, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, as he rejected suggestions the federal government take a more active role in making the project a reality.  “Our government’s fundamental approach to oil and gas development is to see that . . . decisions be made by proponents themselves,” Harper said Wednesday during a stop here.  “Obviously shifts within the oil and gas industry in terms of prices are having profound effects upon decisions that commercial producers may make.”  In the works for decade, the five-member consortium responsible for the pipeline announced in April that it was scaling back on the $16.2 billion project to build a 1,196-kilometre line to move natural gas from the Beaufort Sea to markets in Canada and the United States.  Harper said the federal government is prepared to offer support to boost local infrastructure for the project but would steer clear of active intervention.  “That package of support is on the table but fundamentally the proponents themselves have to make a decision on whether these projects are commercially viable,” Harper said.  Bob McLeod, premier of the Northwest Territories, expressed optimism that the pipeline will eventually be built, driven by demand for cleaner natural gas as a source of energy.


22 August 2012 2:52am

Congressman Doc Hastings, Chairman, Natural Resources, Energy, Washington State, Congress, Alaska, OCS, energy policy, jobs, obama, Photo by Dave HarbourAs we noted yesterday ("Shameful Management...."), the Financial Post report below represents a sharp contrast between comptently managed Canadian natural resource policy and incompetently managed U.S. natural resource policy.    Scroll down for additional evidence from Chairman Doc Hastings (NGP Photo) that the American Executive Branch is ill-prepared and/or ill-disposed to serve.   -dh

Financial Post.  Stephen Harper is on his annual visit to the North this week, quoting Robert Service and boosting the region’s vast resource potential. “The North” holds a particular place in the Canadian psyche, somewhat similar to that of “The West” in the 19th-century U.S. One thing nobody wants to see, however, is a jurisdictional “Wild North.”  One reason why attention has moved north in recent years is the possibility of regular commercial passage through the Northwest Passage due to climate change. This has brought sovereignty to the fore, an issue given a new twist by the recent transit of a Chinese vessel. China wants Arctic waters to be international, an open approach that is remarkably different from the policy China pursues closer to home.  In fact, Mr. Harper’s visit this year is built around the North’s economic promise rather than the assertion of offshore rights. There is a reason for soft-peddling sovereignty and security. The bold measures Mr. Harper announced in previous years — from new ice-patrol vessels to new research facilities — have been frustratingly slow to materialize.

Oil & Gas Online.  Amid policy debate over potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the United States, a new paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy predicts the long-term volume of exports from the U.S. will not likely be very large. The paper also argues that the impact on U.S. domestic natural gas prices will not be large if exports are allowed by the U.S government. 

House Approves Bipartisan Job-Creating Energy Bill to Replace President Obama's No-New-Jobs, No-New-Energy Offshore Plan


In July, the House in a bipartisan vote rejected President Obama's offshore drilling plan that keeps 85% of our offshore areas off-limits. According to Chairman Hastings, the President's plan "re-imposes the drilling moratoria lifted in 2008, hurts job creation and keeps new areas of American energy production sidelined."   


In a separate bipartisan vote, the House approved H.R. 6082, to replace President Obama's no-new-jobs, no-new-drilling plan with a responsible, robust plan that offers 29 offshore lease sales in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources. Read more here



House Passes Bipartisan Strategic and Critical Minerals Bill to Create U.S. Jobs and Strengthen National Security


In July, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4402, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-02). 

The bill would streamline government red tape to allow the U.S. to more efficiently develop our Nation's strategic and critical minerals, such as rare earth elements, that are vital to job creation, American economic competitiveness and national security. Read more about the legislation here



Committee Continues Oversight Investigation Into Edits Made to Drilling Moratorium Report 


For over a year the Committee has conducted an investigation into why an Obama Administration report that recommended a six-month drilling moratorium in the Gulf was edited to make it appear as though the moratorium was supported by a panel of engineering experts.  


On August 1, the Committee approved a motion to authorize Chairman Hastings to issue subpoenas to five Obama Administration officials who were personally involved in developing the Drilling Moratorium Report. To date, the Department of the Interior has flouted an official Congressional subpoena from the Committee to provide documents and information on this matter. The imposition of the moratorium cost thousands of jobs, caused widespread economic harm throughout the Gulf, and decreased American energy production. Read more on the investigation here.



House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Boost Offshore American Energy Production and Job Creation


In June, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4480, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, with a bipartisan vote of 248-163. The bills included in this package were:

  • H.R. 2150 (Hastings, WA-04), National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act. This bill cuts through bureaucratic red tape to unlock the full potential of energy resources in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) by ensuring that oil and natural gas are developed and transported in a timely and efficient manner.
  • H.R. 2752 (Johnson, OH-06), BLM Live Internet Auctions Act. This bill gives the Secretary of the Interior the authority to conduct Internet-based auctions for onshore leases to ensure the best return to the Federal taxpayer, reduce fraud, and secure the leasing process.
  • H.R. 4381 (Tipton, CO-03), Planning for American Energy Act. This bill establishes common sense steps to create an all-of-the-above American energy plan for using federal lands to meet our Nation's energy needs.
  • H.R. 4382 (Coffman, CO-06), Providing Leasing Certainty for American Energy Act. This bill makes reforms to the leasing process for onshore oil and natural gas projects on federal land in order to eliminate unnecessary government delays and hurdles.
  • H.R. 4383 (Lamborn, CO-05), Streamlining Permitting of American Energy Act. This bill reforms the process for energy permitting, once a lease is in hand, to encourage the timely development of our federal onshore oil, natural gas, and renewable resources.

This bipartisan package of bills will expand American energy production on federal lands and create new American jobs by streamlining government red-tape and regulations. It will also set long term production goals to establish a real all-of-the-above American energy plan. Read more about the legislation here



Second Subpoena Issued to Interior Dept for Investigation into New Obama Coal Regulations that Could Cost Thousands of Jobs


In May, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) issued a second subpoena to the Department of the Interior (DOI) for additional information related to the Committee's yearlong investigation into the Obama Administration's rewrite of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule.  


The second subpoena follows after DOI has failed to comply with an April 5th subpoena for documents. The Obama Administration's rewrite of this coal regulation, which had already undergone five years of environmental analysis, could cost thousands of jobs, negatively impact the economies of 22 states and significantly harm American energy production.  


The Committee also released internal documents and audio recordings obtained by the Committee through outside sources, which raise further questions into the highly unusual manner in which the Obama Administration is rewriting the 2008 Rule. Read more about the investigation here



State and Local Experts Warn That Federal Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing Will Destroy Jobs, Harm America's Energy Security


In May, the Obama Administration announced new regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands that could have significant consequences for natural gas and oil development on federal lands, job creation, and local economic growth. The latest draft of federal hydraulic fracturing regulations is part of an endless effort by the Obama Administration to restrict access to American energy resources on public lands. The Administration's roadblocks, hurdles and insistence of duplicative federal government regulation has made producing oil and natural gas on federal lands more difficult, which has driven energy producers and job creators away.  


At a field hearing in Denver, CO, Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn noted that "in the West, where the energy industry is a driving force of the local and statewide economies, through very comprehensive stakeholder discussions, states have crafted their own regulations to monitor hydraulic fracturing within their boundaries. These regulations include input from all stakeholders involved and take into consideration the needs of the local communities, local environment and geography and still allow for a robust energy industry to thrive." Yet the Obama Administration's "recently announced plans to implement a one-size-fits all program of hydraulic fracturing regulations threaten to impede this progress in all states." Read morehere




Critical Resources



In Case You Missed It






21 August 2012 2:29am

A Shameful Management of the Country's Resources  

The Obama Administration is again considering use/misuse of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve, designed to be used in a national emergency.  The average price per barrel paid for the SPR oil is less than $30.  Today's price hovers around $100.  (Could the real motivation be arbitrage?)

At the same time, this month the Obama Administration announced the BLM plans to essentially lock up the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) at the same time the USFWS hopes to recommend wilderness designations for the approved oil and gas area of ANWR, at the same time the US Coast Guard and EPA are slowing or blocking Shell's Arctic exploration efforts.  See the comment of petroleum engineer Richard Garrard in our report below.  To add insult to irony, as this hypocrytical administration talks piously about environmental values in NPR-A (which would be materially unaffected by a responsible oil and gas leasing program), it refuses to properly and timely clean up and plug scores of its own, abandoned legacy wells in NPR-A.  As a result of this incompetent management, America will deplete its SPR during a presidential campaign when there is no national emergency, leaving itself truly vulnerable to future emergency situations while refusing to produce domestic energy in Alaska.

 It is worse than incompetent management.  It is a shameful management of the country's resources.  -dh


Calgary Herald.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s annual northern tour Monday comes at a critical time for energy development in the North, with the Mackenzie Valley pipeline project languishing and bids about to close on a huge tract of Arctic offshore petroleum exploration rights.  The federal government has already awarded more than $600 million worth of oil and gas exploration rights in northern Canada in the past 14 months alone.  Moreover, the Conservative government has also just called for bids to develop a five-year strategic plan for oil spill research in the Arctic (specifically the Beaufort Sea), including filling “knowledge gaps in oil spill countermeasures capability.”  Indeed, energy development is expected to be one of the major themes of Harper’s seventh annual trek to northern Canada, which will take him to Whitehorse, Yukon; Norman Wells, N.W.T.; Cambridge Bay, Nunavut; and Churchill, Man.  (See our report on the Prime Minister's trip in 2009, occuring as the Obama administration considered how to zone and control the oceans rather than how to protect American interests.  -dh)


Houston Chronicle by Sean Parnell, Governor of Alaska (NGP Photo).   The United States begins a Sean Parnell, Alaska Governor, OCS, Chukchi, Houston Chronicle, Fuel Fix, Beaufort, Photo by Dave Harbournew energy era, one that will play out for decades and has already put thousands to work, even before a single oil well has been drilled.   A 22-ship fleet is en route to Arctic waters to begin exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, an important step toward securing our nation’s energy security.  Energy security doesn’t just put our oil in a pipeline; it puts Americans to work, and it does so years before oil hits the market.  It could be 10 more years before Shell Oil will produce oil from the Chukchi and Beaufort. Even so, Americans are already working across the nation and will be kept busy through the interim.  Shell’s preparations created high-paying jobs from New England to the Gulf Coast and the Pacific Northwest, in addition to Alaska’s urban centers and remote Arctic communities.  With our nation’s unemployment higher than it was in January 2009, this development cannot be overlooked.  (Read More)

 Bill Stoltz, Salazar, Alaska sovereignty, NPR-A, Alaska House of Representatives, Photo by Dave HarbourRepresentative Bill Stoltze (L), Senator Charlie Huggins, Alaska, NPR-A, Photo by Dave HarbourSenator Charlie Huggins and members of the Mat-Su Legislative Delegation sent a letter today to Governor Sean Parnell asking him to direct Attorney General Michael Geraghty to file an injunction blocking the efforts of the federal government to unilaterally restrict responsible economic growth by converting large portions of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A) into a wildlife sanctuary.


Richard Garrard, petroleum geologist, Alaska, NPR-A, Photo by Dave HarbourHere is a letter from one of our readers, Richard Garrard (NGP Photo), a respected petroleum geologist.


On August 13th the Secretary of the Interior released a preferred alternative (B-2) for future leasing in the NPR-A.
The proposed plan unfortunately, ignores the sub-surface geology and hydrocarbon prospectivity by not including the regional structural high referred to as the Barrow Arch. This decision ... should be of great concern for Alaska residents and the longevity of the Trans Alaska Pipeline. All of the current North Slope production comes from fields located along the Barrow Arch east of the Colville River.
Areas that had been open for leasing since 1999 have now been designated as "unavailable" and "no new non-subsistence infrastructure." These "unavailable" tracts also include most of the areas where modern 3-D seismic and recent well data have been collected by industry in the NPR-A since the resumption of leasing in 1999. In addition, all of the NPR-A coastline adjacent to the Beaufort Sea and administered by the BLM has also been designated as unavailable for leasing.
It is disturbing to note that the "2010 USGS Updated Assessment of Undiscovered Oil & Gas Resources of the NPR-A" was not based upon any of the modern 3-D seismic volumes and several of the key exploration wells at the time of the evaluation. Calculating the resource values and geological risks for subtle stratigraphic traps without this information is in my opinion problematic and unreliable. The BLM however, is forced to use the results of this USGS assessment in their current IAP/EIS, even though they have access to all data collected by industry.
What has just been decided by the Secretary of the Interior raises a key question - why have a National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska if those areas containing the best opportunity for new oil and gas discoveries are designated by the BLM as "unavailable" for future exploration and production?
I hope we do not allow the current B-2 preferred alternative to become law.
Yours sincerely

Richard (Dick) Garrard,
Petroleum Geologist


The letter is in response to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's plan calling for the arbitrary conversion of nearly half the reserve from being open to oil and gas exploration into protected habitat.  Salazar made his announcement while on an Alaska visit last week.
"This is one more of the growing list of excessive actions by the federal government," Rep. Stoltze, R-Mat-Su, said. "We are calling on Governor Sean Parnell and his administration to take action, as they have in the past, to preserve Alaska's sovereignty in opposing the Federal Government's obstruction to the growth and future of the State of Alaska."

The August 2012 issue of RDC's Resource Review newsletter is now available online.  Topics in this edition include:

Ballot Measure 2

Alaska Business Report Card

Emission Control Area

Bristol Bay watershed assessment

EPA Overreach in Bristol Bay

Oil Company Profit and Taxes

Alaska Investment Climate

Take action, get in the game

RDC board tour to Ketchikan

PDF and web versions are available at:

PDF Version:  http://www.akrdc.org/newsletters/2012/august.pdf

Web version:  http://www.akrdc.org/newsletters/

Associated Press: Alaska delegation critical of proposed NPR-A restrictions - Special protections proposed for wildlife habitat in the 36,000-square-mile National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska would block oil development on half the area but Alaska officials' immediate concern is how it would affect offshore drilling. Alaska's congressional delegation said U.S. Interior Department restrictions on the Indiana-size reserve likely will add expense for a pipeline that could carry oil from offshore wells in the Chukchi Sea to the trans-Alaska pipeline. At worst, it could block access.

Associated Press: Summertime blues for drivers: Gas at August record - You may pay more than ever for a late-summer drive. U.S. drivers paid an average of $3.72 per gallon on Monday. That’s the highest price ever on this date, according to auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.578. More daily records are likely over the next few weeks. The national average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. By comparison, gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011.
Houston ChronicleShell’s drilling rig begins two-week trek to Arctic sea - Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig began a two-week journey to the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska on Monday, marking a major step forward in the company’s slow march toward a new era of oil exploration in the region. The 29-year-old conical drilling rig is being towed from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to Shell’s Sivilluq prospect, where the company hopes to drill at least one well before ice encroaches on the region this fall. The departure of the Arctic-bound rig is a sign of Shell’s confidence that the company soon will be able to launch drilling in the area, despite setbacks that have shortened its window for oil exploration. Shell executives say they now are aiming to complete two wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas this summer, down a previous goal of five.
Wall Street JournalHigher Food, Energy Prices Could Weigh on Voters - If consumers vote their pocketbook, will they blame President Barack Obama for the recent rise in gasoline prices as well as coming higher food costs? Although all the media focus is on how unemployment will influence voters’ choices this November, consumers are now worried about higher inflation. Separate consumer surveys done by the Royal Bank of Canada and by Thomson-Reuters/University of Michigan show inflation fears heating up in August. The culprits are the “noncore” items of food and energy.


20 August 2012 8:43am

Several days ago we wrote an editorial entitled, TAPS and Spend.  One of our decade-long readers, Dan Kish, responded with the following comment:


Again this winter, could gas supply for Alaska's most populous area be at risk?  (See Lisa Demer's ADN article.)  

Mike Hawker, Alaska State House of Representatives, Cook Inlet Gas Supply, North Slope Gas Pipeline, Photo by Dave Harbour

Commentary: Over five years ago, three of five members of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska voted to reject a gas supply agreement (GSA) negotiated between Enstar and Marathon that would have provided for Enstar's Southcentral Alaska needs through 2016 at roughly Henry Hub prices (i.e. Today, $2.19/MCF vs. current RCA-approved Enstar rates for limited volumes of Marathon gas @ $6.91 and $9.67 respectively).   Looking back, approval of the 2006 GSA could have saved Enstar ratepayers many tens of millions of dollars and consumers have no solid guarantee of firm gas supply through 2016.  As one of the two who voted to approve the agreement, I had a background in oil and gas and was convinced that this was an incredibly good deal for ratepayers and the negotiating parties.  In fact, so distraught was I when the three voted against it I seriously considered resigning from the commission which I believed had put Alaska's ability to survive cold winters at risk.  Instead, I wrote a dissent on October 12, 2006 (followed by a final order dissent on January 10, 2007), which readers may wish to review here.  The dissents explain why the three commissioners' action violated RCA precedent and endangered the ratepayers -- and there's not much I would change were I to rewrite it today.  In the the statement below, Representative Mike Hawker (NGP Photo, above) seems concerned with at least one Cook Inlet producer for Enstar's lack of gas supply.  While his reaction is understandable and well-intended, perhaps this personal reference and historical dissent will assist in keeping such matters in perspective.   Enstar has worked diligently to maintain gas supply and the Cook Inlet producers have been responsible. (One notes that two of the three commissioners voting against the 2006 GSA remain on the commission but new commissioners have been appointed and GSA decisions in recent years have improved.)  -dh

On Friday, Representative Mike Hawker addressed the problem of gas shortage in the Cook Inlet area, affecting the most populous area of the state.  He said, in part: 

"The Southcentral gas market has always been a tricky one. Small and isolated, with huge seasonal fluctuations in demand, limited exports have long been the foundation that gives industry incentive to produce and provides energy security for two-thirds of Alaskans.

"I support free market principles that allow those with a commodity to sell it for the highest price they can. However, there has long been an informal understanding between Cook Inlet producers, utilities and the state that local needs must be met. I am deeply disappointed that a producer would disregard what I see as a responsible corporate citizen's obligation to the people of Alaska.

"I understand that along with a potential physical shortage of gas to supply to CINGSA and to utilities, the gas price has gone up dramatically, now generally paralleling the price of export gas. This would represent a significant increase in electricity and home heating costs to Southcentral Alaskans, one that individuals and the general economy cannot easily absorb.

"I support continued LNG exports from Cook Inlet; however, our local needs must be met first, and at reasonable rates fair to all parties. To that end, I urge the producing companies in Cook Inlet to pursue reasonable, fair supply contracts with Enstar, CINGSA and electric utilities that will provide Alaskans with energy security as we approach a critical winter.

"Meanwhile, now more than ever, we must relentlessly pursue long-term solutions offering energy stability to economies and individuals of Southcentral and all Alaska – including a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to export at tidewater."

I couldn’t have said it better.  For decades, I have heard folks in Alaska repeat the canard that because Alaska has oil, companies will beat down the door to get it. Meanwhile, the oil wealth has allowed folks a very comfortable life via a magic goose laying golden eggs from behind a curtain. 
This has led to people believing there is no need for timber, mining, or any other kind of development, including more oil production.  Roads aren’t necessary in a state twice the size of Texas that has less paved road than the District of Columbia.  I’ve been told by some in the environmental community that many people literally sign over their permanent fund checks to them as a contribution. 
After a number of years of studying oil and gas developments around the world, including the lower 48 states, it is clear to me that that approach is indeed a canard.  Alaska has to compete to attract investment just as everyone else in the world.  Having huge resources is but the first condition for resource development. Alberta’s success, for example, is directly attributable to a royalty system that attracts large amounts of capital and recognizes that it will benefit over the long run as the capital is paid for by production. 
Oil is discovered not in the ground, but in the minds of men and women willing to work and invest and risk capital to give it value.  The Arabs sat on huge wealth but lived lives of paupers until technology and capital gave them wealth.
The No Growthers love the economic nincompoops who defiantly declare that higher and higher taxes and take on Alaskan production is warranted.  They seem to know  nothing of the energy world that is coming to the conclusion that Alaska is making itself irrelevant.  When oil is being discovered in quantity in the waters of Israel and the Falklands and many countries including China are working on both shale oil and gas shale, the positions of some Alaskans are so insular as to threaten the future of the state.  And while the No Growthers might like that, Alaska would be a much, much different place.  It is not far from becoming just that.
Keep up the good work ringing the bell, my friend. 
Daniel V. Kish
Senior Vice President, Policy
Institute for Energy Research
1100 H St. NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
202 621 2959 (direct)
202 360 2480 (cell)

















Fred Carmichael, Aboriginal Pipeline Group, NWT, Inuvik, gas pipeline, arctic, oil pipeline, Photo By Dave HarbourPetroleum News by Gary Park.  FredBob McLeod, oil pipeline, NWA, Photo by Dave Harbour Carmichael (NGP Photo-L), chairman of the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which has the option of a one-third equity stake in the Mackenzie Gas Project, said a pipeline to the Beaufort Sea would face a backlash from environmental and aboriginal organizations.  (See our earlier editorial onBob McLoed's {NGP Photo} initiative.)

Calgary Herald by Jason Fekete.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s annual northern tour (today) comes at a critical time for energy development in the North, with the Mackenzie Valley pipeline project languishing and bids about to close on a huge tract of Arctic offshore petroleum exploration rights.

NYT/ADN by Clifford Krauss.  Pete Slaiby, Shell Oil, OCS, Chukchi, Beaufort, OCS, Arctic, Photo by Dave HarbourShell remains confident that it will get final approval from regulators and be able to begin drilling for oil in Arctic waters off the Alaska coast this summer, the oil company's top Alaska executive said Friday. "We absolutely expect to drill this year," Peter E. Slaiby (NGP Photo), Shell's vice president in charge of Alaska operations, said in a telephone interview. "Our confidence continues to grow, and we are feeling good."

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold its annual sale of oil and gas lease tracts in the Beaufort Sea, North Slope, and North Slope Foothills on Nov. 7, 2012.

ADN/AP by Dan Joling.  Special protections proposed for wildlife habitat in the 36,000-square mile National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska would block oil development on half the area, but Alaska officials' immediate concern is how it would affect offshore drilling.