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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

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7-14-15 Alaska Gas Pipeline Commentary

14 July 2015 5:11am

Global LNG Markets: Implications for Alaska (Our Canadian readers can 'read between the lines'.)  A presentation provided by Doug Rotenberg, BPs Chief Commercial Advisor, June 24, 2015.  Note: "Demand uncertainty by certain, key Asian markets."

Alaska Gas Pipeline Commentary:


Dave Harbour

On the links list, lower right column, readers will find a link to Alaska's Economy, First National.  

Following that link, our readers will find this exchange among two commentors and your publisher:

  • First Commentor:
    I hope parents share this (1st National economic information) with their teen age children. Alaska's future needs to be a topic of conversation with all Alaskans.
  • Second Commentor:
    Yeah, well, if the oil companies want to warm the cockles of Alaskan hearts they need to build a gas pipeline that is big enough to deliver affordable gas in-state. We are sick of having all the resources and none of the benefits.

Dave Harbour Comment. 

Note: Since our goal is accuracy for our archives, we invite readers to send us any factual additions / corrections / comments that will improve accuracy of the statements made.  Please distinguish between statements of fact (which depend upon accuracy for credibility), and statements of opinion (which may vary from person to person and, in part, depend upon the logic employed for credibility.

We respectfully suggest that oil companies have not delayed the building of a gas pipeline.  Nor do they or any other private sector company make major project investments to warm the cockles of anyone's heart.  

Politics in the 1970s derailed the first viable Alaska North Slope gas project (i.e. Arctic Gas route), while the FPC derailed the El Paso LNG project and Canada favored the Alcan project. ​  

Economics in the 80s and 90s delayed the second one (i.e. Alcan route), and third one (i.e. various Alaska LNG Asian export projects).  

Alaska politics, with coming of the new Century, delayed the next serious attempt when economics improved (i.e. Murkowski's fiscal certainty effort rejected).  

Alaska politics (i.e. Governor Palin's ACES impact on economics and her 'must have' approach with AGIA) along with the new shale phenomenon and growing Asian demand  (i.e. making LNG, for the first time in history, more economically feasible than a Midwest pipeline) gave rise to the Ak-LNG project.  

The producers have gone all-out to tailor favorable economics for the current AK-LNG project but, again, politics threaten the economics.  

  • First, Alaskans demonstrated via the failed referendum attempt a year ago to repeal SB21 oil tax reform, that any investment in Alaska is always subject to a political/populist referendum that could kill otherwise favorable economics after the investment is made.  
  • Second, the current governor (i.e. Bill Walker) has signaled his priority support for a successful gas pipeline project -- a priority diminished by conflicting signals that higher oil taxes and a reduction in oil tax credits are another priority.  (Note that an unsustainable state operating budget increases pressure for higher taxes.  A Greece-like distaste for any austerity that could support gas pipeline economic feasibility and investor confidence pervades Alaska's current political environment.) 
  • Third, soon after taking office, The governor began to signal that his impatience with the Ak-LNG project was causing him to want to put full support behind an expanded AGDC project (i.e. threatening to create competing gas projects does not reflect fiscal certainty, logic, or wisdom on the part of Alaska's chief executive).  
  • Fourth, Walker has expressed support for some sort of 'fiscal certainty' regarding taxation of natural gas but is refusing to consider a way of providing fiscal certainty to oil investors.  Surely gas pipeline investors must be, on the one hand, encouraged by the idea of having a stable investment climate for gas.  If the oil taxation climate is unstable and even hostile, as now, politics once again threatens the pipeline dream becoming reality.  

Due diligence will certainly reveal to any gas investor that after investing billions to bury a refrigerated gas pipeline into the permafrost, a predatory government could once again undermine its gas investment on the one hand by engineering higher oil taxes on the other.

To provide true fiscal certainty that supports investments by companies in gas (and other major) projects, Alaska needs to provide some convincing evidence if not a constitutional guarantee that what is invested in good faith will not be expropriated later in bad faith.  

(Lastly, on the comment above, "...affordable gas in-state. We are sick of having all the resources and none of the benefits...," I'm almost embarrassed, as a 44-year resident, to respond; embarrassed in being aware that this conversation is bound to verify any negative opinions our 'outside' readers may have about the wealth and even the spoiled nature of some Alaskans.  But we are compelled to observe that Alaskans have gotten a lot for nothing during this incredibly blessed oil and gas era, including:

  • In return for massive hundreds of billions in state infrastructure and financial support for municipalities and villages, Alaskans pay no statewide income tax, property tax or sales tax.
  • Oil companies on the other hand pay for 90% of the state operating budget and their capital intensive work supports over a third of the entire economy.  They pay oil royalties, agreed upon when they bid on oil leases.  In addition, the legislature has the power -- and has in the past -- created, changed and increased oil taxes after investments have been made.  The government has even taxed Alaska's largest investors retroactively.  Oil companies pay a corporate income tax, a 'severance' or 'production' tax and a discriminatory oil and gas statewide 'property tax' that other companies or citizens do not have to pay.
  • As some Alaskans complain about not having subsidized natural gas, they are being paid annual dividends from a $50 billion 'Permanent Fund' financed 100% by oil industry taxes and royalties.
  • As fellow citizens throughout the country struggle for financial survival, Alaska has created the highest spending per capita state in the nation and has the highest number of non-profit organizations per capita in the nation; most supported in various direct and indirect ways by the oil industry.
  • As a small number of the incredibly rich Alaskans complain about not having enough 'free stuff' from oil investors, they might pause from time to time to consider:
    • Their state subsidized airports -- and thus their inter- and intra-state travel -- financed in large part by oil; and  
    • All of their couple hundred non-taxed rural villages provided with state subsidized, oil supported: schools, health facilities, sanitation, water, port, road, State Trooper, fire fighting and other services; and
    • A lavishly financed state university system, enabled by oil; and
    • hundreds of thousands of jobs supported directly and indirectly by oil companies.

Yes, I'm embarrassed to recount Alaska's riches before our thousands of readers in North America.  But, on the other hand, if the facts listed here can help other uninformed citizens to better understand the economy of their state and better support that economy, it has been an exercise well worthwhile.

Lastly, it is possible for Alaskans to not be embarrassed about the God-given natural resource wealth accorded it.  That can best be accomplished by considering what productive contributions we can make to fellow citizens, rather than what increased financial and social benefits we can lobby from government.   

Alaska now finds itself in a very low price oil environment, with a federal government doing everything possible to stop natural resource work on federal (and state) lands and with a state administration that seems both anxious to increase oil taxes and reluctant to trim spending.   

It is critical that Alaskans join together to support a stable investment climate for our largest investors, to create self-disciplined spending polices and engage in rhetoric that does not demonize the economic engine supporting a half century of unbelievable prosperity.  

Respectfully, dh



Dave Harbour, publisher of Northern Gas Pipelines, is a former Chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and a Commissioner Emeritus of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).  He served as NARUC's official representative to the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).  Harbour is past Chairman of the Alaska Council on Economic Education, former Chairman of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and past President of the American Bald Eagle Foundation and the Alaska Press Club.  He is Chairman Emeritus of the Alaska Oil & Gas Congress.

Opinions or viewpoints expressed in this webpage or in our email alerts are solely those of the publisher and are not intended to reflect the opinion(s) of any affiliated company, person, employer or other organization who may, in fact, oppose the views stated herein.  -dh




13 July 2015 6:28am

ADN/AP by Dan Joling.  ... Royal Dutch Shell PLC 's drilling schedule for two exploratory wells this summer in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, however, shouldn't be delayed by maintenance work on the 380-foot icebreaker Fennica, spokesman Curtis Smith said Monday.

Meanwhile, as the Iran negotiations continue to be extended, please note yesterday's commentary.  -dh


7-12-15 Our Iranian Nuclear Negotiations: Hopelessly Incompetent, Naive, Pro-American Or Pro-Enemy?

12 July 2015 12:40pm

Our Iranian Nuclear Negotiations: Hopelessly Incompetent, Naive, Pro-American or Pro-Enemy?  You Be The Judge.


Dave Harbour

Image result for cartoon iran

Today and perhaps tomorrow comes another deadline extension in, and maybe an ending of, the Iranian nuclear negotiation.  It is one of the most important -- and dangerous -- energy and world security issues in history.


The current process is alienating the United States from all of our 'former' Middle Eastern allies who, together, have helped provide significant security to the region.  Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries in the area recognize Iran for the supporter of terrorism and threat to their own sovereignty that it is.  

They also know that regardless of the American-led negotiation's outcome, the Iranians will continue with their nuclear weapon program.  This will cause neighbors to engage in an "arms race" to become similarly armed.  

Why do our readers care?

The end game could result in continuing sanctions on Iranian oil sales, supporting higher oil prices.  The end game could also find Iran free of sanctions, causing the legal and unrestrained trade of Iranian oil -- pressuring oil prices to go lower.  Both results will impact Alaskan and Canadian local governments, companies and their national economies.

Russian and Chinese mischief also surrounds the Greek financial crisis -- which may be coming to a head any moment.  See this Calgary Herald article by Deborah Yedlin.

North American and European security could be affected by the outcome of the Iranian nuclear talks.  A lifting of sanctions could refill Iran's coffers with billions, sure to be shared with terrorist organizations. 

Relations with Russia and China will be affected, for whereas they might have supported Iranian sanctions earlier, today they would most assuredly not do so in the likely event that Iran would soon begin violating the terms of any 'deal'.   Moreover, today they are, respectively, challenging the resolve of the United States with: provocative and imperialistic movements against Europe; bomber probes of North American air space; and threats to countries and international sea traffic in the South China Sea.

Forgive us for our own naiveté, but we do not understand why any but the most incompetent, inexperienced or unpatriotic administration would even consider negotiating with a fascist, Islamic regime that is a master of breaking agreements, holds American hostages, and also publicly wishes "death to America" and to America's best Middle Eastern ally, Israel.   This is occurring at the same time the administration is downgrading the U.S. military and upgrading onerous natural resource regulations throughout America and calling, "global warming a top national security priority".  On second thought, we are not naive; we have put the puzzle together logically and the picture is one of either the American leadership's incompetence or deceit.

Sitting next to Secretary of State John Kerry, a Vietnam Veteran who publicly threw his military medals away, is Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz.  He has enjoyed a distinguished career in previous lives, a physicist who served in academic leadership at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as Under Secretary of the US Department of Energy and as Associate Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  

Neither, however, is known for negotiating high stakes positions in the international big league.

We believe Kerry is executing orders bound to endanger the national security of the United States.  We believe that while Dr. Moniz is a nuclear expert, neither he nor Kerry know when America should not negotiate, nor how to negotiate.

So when we awaken tomorrow, we hope that as Monday unfolds we'll not see any agreement.   We hope that we will see sanctions continue and be made even more robust until -- and not before -- Iran:

  • pleads for peace,
  • agrees to destruction of weapon related nuclear equipment and material,
  • agrees to unannounced and unfettered inspections of both military and nuclear facilities,
  • demonstrably ceases all funding and other tangible and intangible support for Islamic terrorism,
  • releases all American hostages, and
  • recants its threat to destroy Israel.

Without such common sense conditions being agreed to and successfully implement for at least 12 months, no lifting of sanctions should even be considered, much less discussed or negotiated.

The fact that the United States is bowing so low to such low life savages and transmitting such weakness during such perilous times is an affront to the entire foundation and history of the United States of America and poses a clear and present danger to all free people at home and abroad.  Our leaders are giving comfort to our enemies and alienating our allies.

Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weakly stated that the Senate would not approve a "bad deal".  We ask: Why in the name of millions of fallen patriots should he not have said, "The President is on a fool's errand.  The United States should not negotiate with an enemy, a proven liar, a terrorist state.  Sanctions will continue and increase until the road to a nuclear Iran is permanently destroyed.  From our viewpoint any nuclear "deal" brought to this body is DEAD ON ARRIVAL if it does not represent a complete capitulation of Iran's imperialistic, untrustworthy ways to our COMPLETE SATISFACTION."

The administration SHOULD BE ashamed of its performance and our Congressional representatives SHOULD NOT BE ashamed to remind the country of this misrepresentation loudly and daily lest their lack of powerful objection be interpreted as weak acquiescence.


Dave Harbour, publisher of Northern Gas Pipelines, is a former Chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and a Commissioner Emeritus of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).  He served as NARUC's official representative to the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).  Harbour is past Chairman of the Alaska Council on Economic Education, former Chairman of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and past President of the American Bald Eagle Foundation and the Alaska Press Club.  He is Chairman Emeritus of the Alaska Oil & Gas Congress.

Opinions or viewpoints expressed in this webpage or in our email alerts are solely those of the publisher and in no way reflect the opinion(s) of any affiliated company, person, employer or other organization.




11 July 2015 4:35pm

NGI Daily by Joe Fisher.  

For decades, multiple Alaska governors have tried to push through a pipeline to commercialize the state's North Slope natural gas. Gov. Bill Walker's strategy so far has been to keep a close eye on the project timeline and to emphasize Alaska's role as a "sovereign" in dealings with partners.

Walker told NGI that since the 1980s he has believed a pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal that could access Asian markets were a better bet than a just a pipeline to carry gas to Canada and the Lower 48 states.

The AK LNG project as currently proposed includes a liquefaction plant and terminal in the Nikiski area on the Kenai Peninsula; an 800-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline; up to eight compression stations; at least five offtake points for in-state gas delivery; and a gas treatment plant to be located on the North Slope (see Daily GPIMay 7, 2014).

The U.S. Department of Energy recently gave its conditional blessing to non-free trade agreement exports from the planned terminal (see Daily GPIMay 28). The project is a partnership of the state, the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., BP plc, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp., and pipeline company TransCanada Corp. (see Daily GPIFeb. 11).

The state has arrived at the current plan after spending "lost decades on other options," Walker said.

"I think we have the right people at the table, and now it's a matter of...working out the commercial negotiations that are necessary...I've been perhaps a bit more aggressive on moving the schedule along because we need the gasline decision sooner [rather] than later.  More....

7-10-15 "Alaskan and Canadian Leaders: Investors Matter."

10 July 2015 10:24am

Could Saskatchewan become more oil investor friendly than Alberta?

Alaska Support Industry Alliance Analysis

Dave Harbour, Fraser InstituteOur Commentary

(Reference today's articles below)

Alaska and Canada Pay Attention: To investors, costs matter and costs include the cost of taxes and royalties and regulatory requirements and reneging on tax credits.  

Go ahead and demonize the goose that lays golden eggs.  Try to popularize the 'taking' of more private wealth for public redistribution using tired, old and untrue "fair share" arguments.  Sure, you'll rip off investors for a short period of time but you will deter future investment and injure the sustainability of natural resource industry jobs and government revenue and the prosperity of your children.  

Just be on notice that when you do that, and when investment dries up and when you try to wrongly blame the poor economy on the "big bad rich people" for your pathetic decisions, we'll be here to call your bluff, you terrible, intellectually dishonest public officials!  

Do you really want us to help our fellow citizens remember that it was you who sharpened your state's or your province's reputation as an unreliable investment destination where, sadly, "a deal is not a deal"

Investors matter.  -dh 

Alaska Public Media.  Are North Slope oil tax credits a good investment for the State of Alaska? That’s the question asked by a recent report from the Department of Revenue. The researchers answer: No, not compared to other options. But some experts say the paper doesn’t give the tax credits a fair shake.  (Go ahead Alaska, change the rules of he game, delay and veto tax credits.  See where that gets you!        -dh)  

Quotation From Alaska Support Industry Alliance Analysis:  Tax credits were created to encourage a desired behavior by industry. 

Fraser Institute.  If history is any indication, the NDP government’s review of Alberta's energy royalty regime could serve as a deterrent to new investment in that province’s oil and gas industry, finds a study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian policy think-tank.

“While the Notley government is delivering on a campaign promise to review royalty rates paid by the province’s oil and gas producers, it must tread carefully. When the Ed Stelmach government launched its review in 2007, there was an immediate plunge in investor confidence,” said Kenneth P. Green, Fraser Institute senior director of energy and natural resources and author of Fallout from the 2007 Alberta Royalty Review Panel.  


Legislators, Governors and Premiers note: Saskatchewan and BC have learned from history and are seeking to attract investors. 

Alberta and Alaska, however, recently voted out leaders who attracted investment and are now considering a repetition of past policies.  Past policies  increased tax (Alaska) royalty (Alberta) costs while deflecting investment.  -dh

Petroleum News.  The British Columbia government of Premier Christy Clark wants to tie the hands of current and future administrations over 25-year periods by shielding projects against any changes to provincial taxes and regulations.

A 37-page project development agreement signed in May with Malaysia’s Petronas, operator of the Pacific NorthWest consortium, is designed to establish the “rules of the game” for Pacific NorthWest that will carry over to any other projects, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said.

He said the deal provides a “measure of stability.”

(Measures of stability are what all mega-project investors need in order to pass 'due diligence' hurdles.  Are you listening, Alaska and Alberta?  -dh)

Petroleum News by Gary Park.  No Canadian province has experienced longer rule over the past 60 years under the left-wing New Democratic Party than Saskatchewan and no province has been more averse to the NDP than Alberta.

The tide turned in 2007 when Saskatchewan elected Brad Wall as its premier and installed his conservative-minded Saskatchewan Party as its government.

That might have been a mild shock, but it was nothing compared with the May landslide election of the NDP in Alberta, ending 44 years of unbroken Conservative Party rule.

Nervous tremor in Alberta

Under Premier Rachel Notley, the new Alberta government has sent a nervous tremor through its mainstay oil and gas sector by pledging to conduct a review of royalties, possibly starting late this year.




09 July 2015 12:25pm

Washington Post Magazine, by Julia Duin.  ... This Alice Rogoff, Rubenstein, Richard Haass, Lisa Murkowski, Daisy Soros, Orin Kramer, Anchorage Dispatch, Daily News, Sarah Todd Palin, Alaska House, NYC, Photo by Dave Harbourwas Alice Rogoff (NGP Photo), wife of billionaire David Rubenstein and a former Washington business executive turned owner and publisher of Alaska’s largest newspaper. Rogoff had spent nine days piloting her single-engine Cessna 206 from village to village as her reporters covered 70-plus mushers crossing the state.   ...   

Rogoff’s husband was casting about for a post-White House career. In 1987, he co-founded the Carlyle Group, which would become one of the largest private equity management firms in the world. One of his earliest successes involved taking advantage of a loophole in the 1986 Tax Reform Act that allowed firms owned by Alaska Natives to sell off their tax losses to corporations in search of write-offs. Carlyle raked in millions in fees, in what critics referred to as “the Great Eskimo Tax Scam.”


Note: Alice Rogoff's Alaska House project in NYC was how we first became acquainted.  Reference: 1, 2, 3)

We were concerned that Rogoff was seeking financial support from Alaska's Legislature when Alaska House was being partly used by an environmental group opposed to Alaska resource development.  

While we appreciated Rogoff's motives and consider her to be an honorable person, we also believe her loyalties among free enterprise, Native, environmental, social, and international special interests to be unpredictable and divided.

Accordingly, her Anchorage Dispatch News acquisition tends to present a mostly left of center viewpoint in a state whose Constitution requires a mostly right of center approach to resource development.             -dh

Rogoff established the Alaska Native Arts Foundation in Anchorage and purchased a house there in 2006. She seemed to see herself as Alaska’s unofficial ambassador to the East Coast. In 2005, the foundation set up a three-day festival at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington; a few years later, it established a 3,000-square-foot gallery named Alaska House in Manhattan’s Soho district.

Read more....


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