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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.

 

Alaska Taxes

7-29-14 SB 21 Tax Reform Legislation Prompts ConocoPhillips - Doyon Alaska North Slope Project

29 July 2014 8:48am

SB 21 Tax Reform Legislation Prompts ConocoPhillips - Doyon Alaska North Slope Project
 
(Does oil tax reform improve chances for an Alaska North Slope LNG Project?  Governor Sean Parnell thinks so.)

Canada Also Finds That Oil Incentives Work: Calgary Herald by Dan Healing

Rick Rogers Agrees: "No On One"

Rick Rogers, Resource Development Council for Alaska, RDC, SB 21, ACES, Proposition 1, No On One, Dave Harbour PhotoADN Op-Ed by Rick Rogers (NGP Photo).  In reading Bill Walker’s (NGP Photo-below) Bill Walker, No On One, Candidate For Governor, SB 21, ACES, Proposition 1, No On One, Dave Harbour Photorecent column on why he would be voting yes in the August primary election referendum to repeal oil tax reform, it was hard to understand how he could come to that conclusion if he stepped back and critically examined his very own statements about the ACES tax structure.

...he, in reality, made the case to keep oil tax reform intact and vote no.

(More here....)

ConocoPhillips Alaska announced yesterday that it has signed a contract with Doyon Drilling to build a new rotary drilling rig for the Kuparuk River Unit on Alaska’s North Slope. This is the first new-build rotary rig that ConocoPhillips has added to Kuparuk’s rig fleet since 2000. 

...Doyon 142 will employ about 100 people directly and support hundreds of indirect jobs. Currently, 
Aaron Schutt, Doyon Drilling, Alpine, rig, Alaska North Slope, ConocoPhillips, Dave Harbour Photo, SB 21ConocoPhillips has six development rigs working on the North Slope and one in the Beluga River Unit in Cook 
Inlet. 

“The contract for the rig is long-term and is one example of how Senate Bill 21 (MAPA, or the More Alaska 
Production Act) is making a positive impact on Alaska’s economy. This opportunity is good for Doyon, its 
shareholders and Alaska,” stated Doyon President and CEO, Aaron Schutt (NGP Photo above). 

In addition to the rigs, since the passage of SB 21 Trond-Erik Johansen, ConocoPhillips, SB 21, Alpine, Rig, Rotary, Doyon Drilling, oil tax reform, No On One, Proposition One, Photo by Dave HarbourConocoPhillips has also announced plans to pursue three 
new projects on the North Slope. ...“Contracting for a new rig is another step we are taking to increase production on the North Slope,” said Trond-Erik Johansen, president of ConocoPhillips Alaska (NGP Photo). “SB 21 has improved the business climate in Alaska, and we are investing in projects that add production, increase state revenues, increase contributions to the Permanent Fund and create jobs and business opportunities for Alaskans.” 

(More here....)

Categories:

7-24-14 Keeping Oil Tax Reform Sustains Alaska

24 July 2014 2:03am

Alaska Dispatch by Jonathan Katchen.  Much of the discussion surrounding our oil taxes is driven by emotion and ideology instead of facts. Most Alaskans want a vibrant oil industry that generates good paying jobs, keeps the oil flowing for years to come and provides Alaskans with a fair share of revenue. Here’s why voting to repeal SB 21 will jeopardize these goals.

Categories:

7-11-14 Native Leaders Support SB 21 - Is Enbridge Alaska's Newest Pipeline Sweetheart?

11 July 2014 6:50am

Did You Read It Here First?  Last Night The Globe & Mail Posted News Involving A Relationship Between One of Canada's Greatest Pipeline Companies And The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation.


Globe & Mail by Shawn McCarthy.  

Enbridge Inc. is turning its eyes north to Alaska, entering talks with the state to build an $8-billion (U.S.) natural gas pipeline there if a competing project falters.

The Calgary energy company and the state-owned Alaska Gas Development Corp. (AGDC) “are undertaking substantive and exclusive discussion” which would see Enbridge become the builder and operator for the 1,163-kilometre pipeline. It would carry natural gas from the North Slope to Fairbanks and other communities in southern Alaska.

ADN Opinion Editorial, by Rex A. Rock Sr. (NGP Photo), Aaron Schutt, Sophie Minich, Helvi Sandvik, Jason Metrokin, Gail Schubert.  

Rex Rock, SB 21, ASRC, Alaska Native Corporation, Photo by Dave HarbourMany Alaskans may wonder why six of the largest Native corporations have united behind the effort to defeat Ballot Measure 1. Those who know little about us might assume it’s because some of the coalition members have business interests aligned with the oil industry. But that is too simple an answer. We did not enter into this conversation lightly.

As First Alaskans, our people have learned for generations to use and protect the resources that surround us. We have learned that to provide for future generations – for tomorrow’s children to have the same opportunities we enjoy – hard decisions must be made today.

We have listened carefully to the debate surrounding tax reform and weighed its benefits and drawbacks. We have also allowed ourselves the time to determine if the oil industry’s promises of increased investment were genuine. Some of our businesses are in the oil industry and some are not. What we have seen is an increase in investment into our oil industry, aimed at getting new oil in the pipeline. While that may be good for some of our businesses, it is good for all Alaskans. Our corporations collectively employ thousands of Alaskans and our employees support small Alaska businesses and the overall economy. New investments increase our opportunity to put new oil in the pipeline. Extending the life of our oil fields translates into continued contributions to our state treasury and the services the state provides to Alaskans for the long-term.

More....

Categories:

7-7-14 Feds Not Credited For Energy Surge (EIA)

07 July 2014 1:23pm

 

Comment by Robert Dillon (NGP Photo), Senator Lisa Murkowski's Senate Energy Committee Staff  

Robert Dillon, US Senate Energy Committee, Photo by Dave HarbourWe’ve known for some time that the majority of new oil and natural gas production in the United States was occurring on private and state lands.

Fairbanks News Miner by Jim Dodson.

Develop Alaska’s human resources. Increase its standard of living. Diversify its economy. Strengthen free competition in its private sector economy.

Here at Fairbanks Economic Development, we are in favor of “Vote No on 1.” Our reasons are simple: we believe the description of “maximum benefit,” and the aim of Alaska’s government in resource development, were correct.

We believe that a dynamic, thriving private sector, full of good, high-paying private sector jobs for Alaskans, is the best, most sustainable road to maximum benefit for Alaskans and the state.

 
There is a reason that the North Slope Contractors Association and the North Slope Pipeline Unions joined with Sen. Lisa Murkowski recently ....       (More here)

Now new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that federal lands are producing less and less of the energy the nation depends on every day.

According to the EIA, fossil fuel production from federal lands has been declining every year since 2010.

Coal production on federal lands has been falling since 2008.

Production of natural gas from federal areas has been declining since 2007, and represented just over 15 percent of the nation’s total gas production in 2013, down from 35 percent a decade before.

While oil production in 2013 was up slightly from the previous year, it’s still way below 2010-2011 levels.

Reference: Rigzone, Federal Lands Contributing Less to Total US Energy Picture.

Categories:

6-25-14 "This is Alaska's time -- and it feels like we're back in the game" - ConocoPhillips Alaska President Trond-Erik Johansen

25 June 2014 7:40am

Resource Development Council for Alaska Report Below


Publisher's Note:

Our friend, Alaska Salmon Alliance Executive Director Arni Thomson (NGP Photo) provides us with this Arni Thompson, commercial fishing, alaska, oil tax reform, Photo by Dave Harbourlink to the Seattle Times: "North Dakota is booming, and its largest city has reinvented itself, attracting creative types and energetic entrepreneurs."  

Recently, we pointed out that Alaska had the lowest domestic product gain of any state, during 2013...in sharp contrast to other oil producing states that are moving ahead of Alaska, including North Dakota, Texas and even California.

Our friend from Senator Lisa Murkowski's Energy Committee Staff, Robert Dillon (NGP Photo), today gave us perspective on this week's federal approval to export lightly refined product.

Dillon wrote,​ "over at the Houston Chronicle's Fuel Fix blog:  Robert Dillon, Senate Energy Committee, Murkowski, Alaska, crude oil exports, pioneer, Photo by Dave HarbourJennifer Dlouhy has a nice summary of the Commerce Department’s decision yesterday to allow Pioneer and Enterprise to export condensates that have been lightly processed or 'stabilized' in a distillation tower, thereby turning them into 'refined products.'

"While the decision does not end the outdated policy that bans most crude oil exports," Dillon said,"it is a step in the right direction. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been pressing the Obama administration to lift the 1970s-era export ban since January. She has suggested a three-step road map to ending the ban, including allowing the export of condensates and a presidential finding that modernization of our export policy is in the national interest."  

The oil export ban issue is important to Alaskans since the ability to export crude oil broadens the market for and improves the price of Alaska oil.  

It is important to all Americans, since the ability to export improves US balance of payments, can assist our allies in becoming less dependent on unfriendly sources and enhances job creation.

It is important to Canada since a lifting of the US oil export ban could expand displacement and other economic strategies for most efficiently using North American energy supplies -- including throughput of the Obama-administration-delayed Keystone XL Pipeline project. 

-dh

While we acknowledge local statistics of low unemployment in Alaska, we also know that can be a temporary condition unless Alaska's investment climate continues a one-year improvement trend since passage in 2013 of SB 21, the oil production tax reform bill.  

If that job creating trend is killed by an ill-informed voter repeal of SB 21, Alaska will resume its slide past investment climate mediocrity toward insolvency.  This is because Alaska is so dependent on oil production and sustainable oil production requires sustainable tax and regulatory treatment--among other things.

We would draw reader attention to the Resource Development Council for Alaska (RDC) story below.

Ralph Samuels, RDC, ACES, Oil Taxes, No On One, Proposition One, Photo by Dave HarbourYesterday, speakers were confident in the economic future of the State, if...

...if, Alaska can become a more stable investment climate.  It can do this by 1) soundly rejecting (i.e voting 'no' on) the August primary election proposition to repeal the state's improved, reformed production tax law that is already creating more investments ... and, 2) by giving investors confidence in the durability of fiscal certainty that could lead to a $40 - $60 billion LNG Export project.  "It is up to us," as former legislator and incoming RDC president, Ralph Samuels (NGP Photo) said.  -dh

 

(Find Ralph Samuels' complete presentation here.)


 

 

"...we're back in the game!"

Commentary by

Dave Harbour

ConocoPhillips Alaska President Trond-Erik Johansen (NGP Trond-Erik Johansen, ConocoPhillips, Alaska, SB 21, RDC, ACES, Photo by Dave HarbourPhoto-L) pretty well summarized the theme of yesterday's Resource Development Council for Alaska Annual meeting. 

In his introduction of company Chairman and CEO, Ryan Lance (NGP Photo), Johansen said, “I’m sure many of you are aware that since oil tax reform legislation was signed into law a year ago, ConocoPhillips has announced new projects and increased investment in Alaska.

Ryan Lance, ConocoPhillips, Alaska, ACES, production taxes, alaska gas pipeline, lng, RDC, Photo by Dave Harbour“We are hopeful”, he said, that “SB21 will stay in place so we can continue to build on the momentum that is here now.  This is Alaska’s time – and it feels like we’re back in the game.” 

In today’s Alaska, the two big political issues du jour both concern “Investment Climate”. 

Calling on a background as former government relations director for ARCO years ago, I continue to think that a “good investment climate” exists when the tax and regulatory rules are competitive with other areas, and when those “rules of the game” are stable, predictable, and durable.  

In short, after you invest your money in good faith, you are harmed and deterred from future investment when government authorities change the rules of the game –- to take more of the money you make, or to make it harder for you to get a return on your investment -- after the investment is in place.

Over a decade ago, the governor and legislature raised the production tax IN EXCHANGE FOR assurances of investment climate certainty that would permit large gas pipeline investments. 

The severance…or, production tax was raised, sure enough, but the oil company investors were then "rope-a-doped" -- denied investment climate certainty.  It was becoming crystal clear that, after several decades of relative investment climate stability (i.e. since 1981), in Alaska “A deal was no longer a deal”.

So, the first issue du jour dealing with a “good investment climate”, is the upcoming effort by some citizens to trade away long-term stability – by repealing the recently passed tax reform bill, SB 21 – for higher taxes in the short term.  The second issue is whether investors have sufficient faith in the durability and reliability of Alaska’s fiscal policies, to plunk down $40- $60 billion on a gas pipeline and LNG export project.

*     *     *

Phil Cochraine, RDC, BP, ACES, Alaska oil and gas tax, Photo by Dave HarbourThe 2013-14 RDC president, Phil Cochraine (NGP Photo-L), opened RDC’s 39th Annual Meeting at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage by introducing Anchorage's host mayor, Dan Sullivan​, who with his Energy Advisory Counsel over the years, detected the need and successfully lobbied for improved oil industry investments in the Cook Inlet area of the state.  

Paula Easley, RDC, Resource Development Council for Alaska, Photo by Dave HarbourHe went on to recognize board members, veterans, staff and Paula Easley (NGP Photo), long-time executive director and then board member—who received a standing ovation. 

He recognized elected officials in the room, including Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, Senators Anna Fairclough, Cathy Giessel, Charlie Huggins, Kevin Meyer and several State Representatives including Mia Costello, Shelly Hughes, Craig Johnson, Bob Lynn, Lora Reinbold, Dan Saddler, Bill Stoltze and Geran Tarr and  (Please let us know of others so the archives may be accurately revised.)

KARA MORIARITY, AOGA, KIDS, RDC, SB 21, NO ON ONE, PHOTO BY DAVE HARBOURAlaska Oil & Gas Executive Director Kara Moriarty then addressed the large crowd of some 1,200.  “Alaska runs on oil,” she said.  Moriarty emphasized the importance an improved investment climate leading to improved production upon which jobs, the state budget and the future of Alaska’s children depends (NGP Photo).  Pointing to the assembled children, she said, “These kids are our future ... future miners, future commercial fishermen….  It’s all about jobs.”

Moriarty warned that in the weeks leading up to the August primary election, “…you will hear about the SB 21 $2 billion give-away…that DOESN’T EXIST.”  She also cited a recently completed McDowell Group study emphasizing the impact of oil industry investment on jobs.  (View Moriarty's slide pack.  Note that the actual presentation may have deviated somewhat from prepared remarks.)

Following the introduction by Johansen, Lance (NGP Photo) addressed, “The U.S. Oil & Gas Renaissance – Alaska’s Role” (We provide his slide pack here).

He said the U.S. oil and gas renaissance is growing because of a shale revolution and affirmed that the phenomenon has “staying power”.  Canada is experiencing similar production increases which, together, make possible the increased export of natural gas by 2016. 

At the same time, he said, Asian consumer demand for gas is providing a market for the increased gas supply.  While several dozen LNG export terminals have been proposed in the U.S. and Canada, not all can be expected to be built, he said. 

Alaska has fiscal challenges and Lance noted that Canada has certain ‘infrastructure challenges’, as we have discussed in these pages. The surviving LNG projects, he suggested, will likely come from areas encompassing competitive advantages, including “reasonable fiscal terms”.  Lance emphasized that Alaska had advantages in the growing LNG marketplace, including its 40-year history of exporting LNG to Japan from its Cook Inlet plant at Nikiski and Alaska’s relatively close proximity to Asian markets.

He also said that Alaska’s role in producing more crude oil could be enhanced by reasonable policies.  “ConocoPhillips has a 50-year history in Alaska and remains committed to the state,” he said.  He said he sensed the excitement in the economy and emphasized that maintaining the tax reforms of SB 21would be, “…good for the state, good for jobs and good for industry.”

In an interview following the meeting, we discussed the nature of fiscal certainty with Lance.  We asked about the importance of reliability to a gas pipeline decision.  He said, “stability and certainty are pretty important when making investments over 40-50 years. “

He added that, “We just want an understanding that we can ... say this is the kind of returns we expect out of these projects and that does require some sense of fiscal certainty and stability. 

“But I tell people”, he went on, “we handle this around the world everywhere.  We have fiscal stabilization clauses in our contracts … with most governments and we make big investments all around the world.  So this isn’t new ground we’ve had to tread....  ...we’ve done this globally, we know what it means, what we are just asking is … when we are in these big long projects that you keep us stable through the course of that period. “

We think no reasonable person would think Lance’s request to be unreasonable.  Even Russians and Chinese don’t apparently think the request for fiscal certainty to be unreasonable.

As we probed the subject further, he said, “…people ask me about Russia, China, and where we’ve been for over 20 -30 years … we haven’t changed the contract most places.” 

He added that in Alaska, the fiscal terms have changed, “numerous times”.  He concluded, “…that’s why the companies are talking about this issue; talking about why we need to have some sense of stability and certainty as we go forward with these investments.”

If any elected official were to ask us, “how do we make the investment climate attractive to a gas pipeline investment,” we would say, “Dear Alaskan colleagues, you have a problem.”

We would explain that Alaska has to overcome the greed mentality behind statements like, “It’s our oil”, and “They represent their shareholders and we represent ours”.

Both of those statements are employed as excuses to rob investors of money after they have made investment decisions.  Oil company shareholders and boards would never condone actions by their company to represent them by violating lease terms or breaking tax laws or vilifying public officials.

Yet Alaska over the last decade has taken billions more from oil companies after investments have been made and risks undertaken in good faith; passed tax legislation demanding retroactive payment; and, vilified Alaska’s most capable investors for no defensible reason. 

Alaska's elected officials have given tax breaks to film producers and small oil companies that produced few jobs and little tax revenue while unfairly taxing large petroleum investors who employ many and pay much.

If Alaska wants to attract more investment leading to more oil production and a gas pipeline it had better start doing an attitude check.  Like North Dakota and Texas and Oklahoma, Alaska just might be better served by admitting it is an oil state, appreciating that blessing and becoming proud of its standing as a big “oil patch state”.

Being friendly to investors does not mean giving away the store.  It does mean becoming a place where, after an investment is made, the investor does not lose sleep wondering if the state’s leaders in the morning will decide they want to take more money and saddle the investor with new tax and regulatory burdens.

Like RDC President Ralph Samuels said, “It’s up to us”.

If our decision is to become a responsible investment Alex DeMarban, ADN, Anchorage Daily News, Ryan Lance, Alaska Dispatch, ConocoPhillips, ACES, Photo by Dave Harbourclimate, perhaps we can certify Trond-Erik Johansen’s hope that we are, truly, “back in the game”.

* See ADN story by Alex DeMarban (NGP Photo: DeMarban at press conference following luncheon speech.)

* See RDC's video of Lance's presentation.


Luncheon Remarks

For Ralph Samuels

RDC’s 39th Annual Meeting Luncheon

Dena’ina Convention Center

June 24, 2014

            Thank you, Phil.  It is my honor to serve as President of the Resource Development Council. Alaska faces many challenges, but there are also great opportunities on Alaska’s horizon. 

GOLDPAN PRESENTATION TO PHIL COCHRANE

          RDC has been fortunate to have both a strong board of directors and staff over the course of its nearly 40 years of existence.  Our leadership team has been second to none and Phil Cochrane is no exception.  Phil has served as RDC’s president for two consecutive years and helped guide our team as Senior Vice President for the two years prior.

At this time I would like to present Phil with our traditional President’s Gold Pan in appreciation for his service to RDC.  Thank you Phil for your leadership, hard work, and unending commitment to the mission of RDC – growing Alaska’s economy through responsible resource development. (Applause)

LEGISLATURE AND OIL PRODUCTION TAXES

Over the past year, the 28th Alaska legislature and Governor Parnell’s administration made significant progress in affecting positive change for Alaska’s natural resource dependent economy.  RDC members engaged in a proactive way by testifying, writing, calling and visiting their elected leaders on important issues.  To all of you who responded to our repeated action alerts, thank you! If you didn’t step up, there is more work to do and there will be many opportunities to make your voice heard.

The legislature and administration made progress on advancing a large-diameter Alaska gas pipeline project by passing enabling legislation that empowers the state to become an owner in the Alaska LNG project.  The legislature also passed injunctive security legislation relating to industrial operations in our state – an issue RDC has been working on for several years to bring more fairness and reason into the litigation process. RDC was at the forefront of these and many other issues.

For years RDC has been advocating for the reform of ACES, the oil and gas production tax put in place in 2007 that has been hugely responsible for an accelerated North Slope production decline. As you all know, oil production tax reform finally passed the legislature last year and RDC’s top priority this year is to defeat Ballot Measure 1, which would repeal the new tax structure that took effect January 1st and bring back the old failed ACES tax regime.

The new tax policy is a significant improvement and the industry’s response is encouraging. There is good reason to be optimistic that Alaska is back in the game and that the stage is now set for a future of growth and opportunity. At this time I would like to call on RDC Executive Committee member Kara Moriarty to further address this critical issue.

INTRODUCTION OF TROND-ERIK JOHANSEN

Thank you Kara. Turning to our program, RDC is pleased to welcome both Trond-Erik Johansen and Ryan Lance to our program. Mr. Johansen will be first out of the gate, followed by our keynote speaker. Mr. Johansen is president of ConocoPhillips Alaska, a position he assumed in April 2010.  He joined ConocoPhillips in 1986 and has held a variety of petroleum engineering, well engineering and leadership positions in numerous locations in the U.S. and abroad. Please welcome Trond-Erik Johansen.

(Note for Ralph: Trond-Erik will introduce Ryan Lance)

FOLLOW-UP REMARKS

           (Any personal comments and reflections on the presentation. Present to Ryan as a token of our appreciation, Judy Patrick’s new book, “Photographs of Alaska’s North Slope: Arctic Oil.”)

FINAL COMMENT

A big thank you once again to all of our sponsors for their generosity, and each and everyone one of you for your ongoing support of RDC.  With all of us working together, we can build a prosperous economy and overcome the challenges before us.

I would like to remind everyone to visit the RDC website at akrdc.org on a regular basis for the latest industry and issue updates. Today’s presentation, as well as all other RDC events and breakfast meetings, are available online.

Please mark your calendars for RDC’s annual conference this fall, which will be held on November 19-20th here at the Dena’ina. Our breakfast forums will resume in September.  

One final note, in the next decade alone, Alaska will need to fill 7,500 oil and gas jobs.  And with the potential Alaska LNG project and other oil and gas projects, there will be even more jobs available for Alaskans.  The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development – in partnership with industry and other stakeholders – unveiled a comprehensive workforce plan to prepare for oil and gas jobs now and in the future.  There are cards on the tables at the back with more information. You can also go to the department’s website at Labor DOT Alaska DOT GOV.

In addition, as you leave today, please take with you a copy of our 2014 Annual Report, which is available on the tables and at the exits.

Finally, remember to VOTE NO ON 1 come Tuesday, August 19th!

This concludes the 39th Annual Meeting of the Resource Development Council. Thank you all! 

Categories:

6-9-14 Young Republicans Sponsor Nonpartisan Oil Tax Forum

19 June 2014 6:20am

Calgary Herald by Stephen Ewart: Two pipelines, two countries: A waiting game without end


Young Republicans Sponsor Open Meeting To Hear Experts Discuss Oil Tax Reform

Report and Commentary

(We remind our readers that since accuracy of our archives is of primary concern, we solicit factual additions/corrections and will quickly make necessary changes.  -dh)

by

Dave Harbour

Michelle Hart, Young Republicans, oil tax reform, SB 21, No On One, Photo by Dave HarbourLast night at Anchorage's Loussac Library, Young Republicans had assembled a VIP Panel to brief the general public on an oil tax reform issue scheduled for a vote on Alaska's upcoming primary election ballot (NGP Photo: Young Republican President Michelle Hart).

Panel members.... (Scroll down for more or click here.)


Murkowski Holds FERC's Bay at Bay

Washington, D.C.--U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (NGP Photo), Lisa Murkowski, Norman Bay, FERC, Cheryl LaFleur, nomination, Senate, Photo by Dave Harbouryesterday voted against appointing Norman Bay to be the next chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Murkowski said Bay lacks the experience and the background in energy policy to lead the independent regulatory agency. 

“Bay’s responses to my questions on any number of important policy issues facing FERC did not provide the level of clarity needed to win my support,” Murkowski said. “Whether it’s where he stands on recusals, the cumulative impact of the EPA’s recent environmental regulations, or FERC’s current and future course his responses were not forthcoming or worse.”

It’s official: 1 million barrels a day. Williston Herald. North Dakota crude oil production officially surpassed the 1 million barrels per day milestone. North Dakota became the fifth state to hit the million barrel mark, according to the North Dakota Petroleum Council. Alaska, California, Louisiana and Texas have previously hit the mark.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday marked up the nominations of Bay and current FERC chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur, approving Bay 13-9 and LaFleur 21-1.

Murkowski has repeatedly voiced support for LaFleur’s nomination to a second term on the commission. She has also questioned why the president would demote LaFleur, the commission’s current chairwoman with more than 20 years of experience in the utility industry, to make Bay chairman.  

“I am not interested in the chairman of the FERC doing on-the-job training, particularly when we have a woman – the only woman on the commission – who has been at the helm as the acting chairwoman, and by all reports from both Democrats and Republicans alike, she’s been doing a good job. She has been fair. She has been balanced. She has the temperament that we need. She has the personal qualities of leadership that we look for. She has the experience.”


Young Republicans Sponsor Open Meeting To Hear Experts Discuss Oil Tax Reform

(More event photos here)

Report and Commentary

by

Dave Harbour

Michelle Hart, Young Republicans, oil tax reform, SB 21, No On One, Photo by Dave Harbour​​Last night at Anchorage's Loussac Library, Young Republicans had assembled a VIP Panel to brief the general public on an oil tax reform issue scheduled for a vote on Alaska's upcoming primary election ballot (NGP Photo: Young Republican President Michelle Hart).

Panel members included:

  • SB 21, oil tax reform, Doug Smith, Alaska Support Industry Alliance, Young Republicans, Andrew Halcro, Senator Cathy Giessel, Mayor Rick Mystrom, Dr Scott Goldsmith, ISER, Little Red Services, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Northern Gas Pipelines, Photo by Dave HarbourPanel moderator, Andrew Halcro​ (NGP Photo-Middle), Anchorage Chamber of Commerce President
  • Alaska State Senator Cathy Giessel (NGP Photo)​
  • Former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom (NGP Photo-Middle-R)
  • Dr. Scott Goldsmith (NGP Photo-Middle-L)​, University of Alaska Anchorage Professor Emeritus of Economics
  • Doug Smith (NGP Photo-L)​, the President and CEO of Little Red Services, an oilfield support services company is a former President of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance.

Former Mayor Mystrom (NGP Photo) attracted and kept the audience's attention by first saying that he'd been following Alaskan issues for four decades and that, "this is the single most important issue I have seen in my Alaska life."

He said that if Alaskans vote to repeal their oil tax reform law (SB 21), oil production will continue declining.  While oil companies have too much invested in the state to just "walk away", he said that reverting to the higher tax burden would deflect investments to other oil producing states and countries.  

Dan Fauske, SB 21, AGDC, Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, Photo by Dave HarbourMystrom quoted the President of the State-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, Dan Fauske (NGP Photo), as saying that if SB 21 is repealed in August, "the Alaska gas pipeline is toast."

All of our knowledgeable sources concur with Fauske's assessment because returning to a predatory tax structure in a world awash in rising oil and gas production creates huge barriers to what is, potentially, the most expensive construction project in history (i.e. $40 - 60 billion).

Dr Scott Goldsmith, University of Alaska, ISER, oil taxes, ACES, Photo by Dave HarbourGoldsmith (NGP Photo) refuted claims of some critics that the new tax reform bill is a "$2 billion giveaway" to oil companies, pointing out that the state was in deficit mode before passage of SB 21.  If the long run is not taken into consideration, including enhanced employment, exploration and development arising from SB 21, one could only claim that the state is reaping $88 million less under SB 21 than under ACES.

Doug Smith, Little Red Services, SB 21, ASRC, Oil Tax Reform, Alaska Support Industry Alliance, Photo by Dave HarbourSmith pointed out that the decision to keep or repeal Alaska's year-old oil tax reform law is one of the biggest decisions in Alaska's history, "...and we need to get it right".  Using his own small business as an example, Smith said that work had dramatically increased following passage of SB 21 a year ago.  He said that his company was doing more work and producing more jobs than in his company's entire history.  

He said that new oil and gas field work has now risen to about twice the level (i.e. about 14 drilling rigs) than existed before passage of SB 21 (i.e. about 6 drilling rigs).

Smith also noted that due to increased Alaska North Slope work, the decline rate in oil production is at its lowest level in six years.

Cathy Giessel, SB 21, Tax Reform, Photo by Dave HarbourSenator Giessel (NGP Photo) addressed the argument of some that, "it's our oil" (NGP It's Our Oil, David Gottstein, Photo by Dave HarbourPhoto), resulting in a mindset to tax that commodity to the hilt.  

But when Alaska provides leases on oil producing tracts in return for cash bonus bids, for example, and lease holders find oil, the majority of the oil, she said, becomes "their oil" by virtue of lease agreements which only preserve about an eighth of the oil as a state royalty.  

Of course, Alaska then adds to the producer's burden an income tax (in addition to federal income tax), a property tax and a production tax--the latter one of which is the subject of SB 21 tax reform.

Giessel traced the history of recent oil tax laws, pointing out that with lower taxes come a higher number of drill rigs exploring for oil.  She compared the almost 30 rigs at work in Alaska today -- following tax reform -- with the dozen rigs operating in 2011.  

She said that according to a recent study by the McDowell Group, the oil industry was responsible for over 110 thousand direct and indirect jobs in the state (i.e. 33% of total jobs), along with over $6.4 billion in wages (i.e. 38% of total wages) and billions in royalties and taxes.

Sarah Palin, Governor, Alaska, ACES, AGIA, Photo by Dave HarbourACES (Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share) was the production tax law created by Governor Sarah Palin (NGP photo) and a bipartisan majority of the Legislature, in late 2006.  The tax increase was enormous and created hastily, in the wake of a scandal involving several legislators and an oil industry support company a decade ago.

SB 21 is the oil tax reform production tax bill at issue this summer, enacted last Spring after four years of committee hearings and debate on how to improve ACES.

Andrew Halcro, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, SB 21, Oil Tax Reform, ACES, Photo by Dave HarbourHalcro pointed out that, "under ACES, it just didn't make sense for companies to expand."  Expansion is the best way to produce oil, he said, not simply trimming expense.  He reminded the audience that when oil companies make more money in a state dependent on oil jobs and income, everyone does better.  He gave as an example, ExxonMobil, which is the single largest holding in the Alaska Permanent Fund.

Halcro also documented how the State Revenue Department overstated prospects for future oil production before the full, economic effects of ACES materialized into a disappointing and dangerous trend downward.  

During a question and answer period following the presentations, Smith said in response to the hurried way ACES was created, "We can't make decisions like ACES on emotion."  The crowd applauded.

Ralph Samuels, Alaska, ACES, Production Tax Law, Photo by Dave HarbourResponding to a question about why ACES passed in the first place, Halcro said it was a combination of lawmakers who didn't like oil companies and lawmakers who were afraid to vote against a popular governor (i.e. Palin).  He noted that Representative Ralph Samuels (NGP Photo) was a courageous exception to the rule," another comment resulting in applause.

Halcro also noted that ACES included tax and investment incentives for small companies.  But after two years and many millions in incentives had been dedicated to these companies, they told the state that though they could discover new commercial reserves, they could not afford to produce them under the tax burden imposed by ACES.  

Halcro added that since the passage of ACES in 2006, Alaska's spending has risen 50% but its income has dropped 30%.

Halcro pointed out that the state is home to some 6,000 non profit corporations.  (i.e. This is a higher per capita density of non governmental organizations (NGOs) than anywhere in the country if not the free world.)  As government grants decline, Halcro said, these NGOs become more dependent on business and individual giving.  As the saying goes, he said, "when the oil industry catches a cold, everyone else sneezes.

Earlier this year we editorialized on this issue and provided these statistics, concluding that, "We continue to be surprised at how few non profit organization leaders testify to the Legislature in support of oil companies, how few write letters to the editor.  Yes, Non profits are professional, profligate writers of corporate and foundation grant requests, but how many stand up to support oil company investment -- which directly and indirectly affects their own prosperity?

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In another recent presentation, Dr. Goldsmith opined on various strategic alternatives for Alaska's economic future:

1. Natural Resource Development
2. Value Added Processing
3. Federal Spending
4. Infrastructure Investments
5. Renewable Energy
6. Footloose Industry
7. Other Economic Development Ideas
8. PETROLEUM
 
Of these, Goldsmith was quick to add that, he believed Strategy #8, "trumps the rest".

-30-

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(See KTUU Television Video)


Additional Event Photo:

Young Republicans, College Republicans, Alaska, Photo by Dave HarbourYoung Republicans 

with 6-18-14 SB 21

Panel Members

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