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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.

 

4-17-14

17 April 2014 7:13am

National Ocean Policy CoalitionComment: We have long held that the White House Executive Orders establishing and implementing a new "Ocean Policy" was one of the Administration's first acts of federal overreach.

Comment: The "Rule of Law" subject appears when we discuss "Ocean Policy", but arises as a theme wherever federal regulatory powers are exercised--including with an Alaska mining project on state land.  -dh

Last week Pebble CEO Tom Collier spoke at the Alaska Miners Association conference in Fairbanks, updating attendees on the status of the Pebble project, discussing next steps, and addressing a major federal overreach by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Collier expressed his confidence that although it has had setbacks, Pebble remains viable, saying  “I would have stayed in Washington, D.C., if I thought John Shively, Pebble Project, Photo by Dave Harbourthis was done.”

Chairman of the board John Shively (NGP Photo) concurred: “Is it going to be difficult? Sure, but there aren’t a lot of easy projects left.”

Here is the link....

First.  It created a broad new policy that threatens the economy of the country without Congressional approval or oversight.  

Second.  It caused this expansive and expensive new policy to be undertaken by usurping existing federal funding for programs that had been previously approved by Congress for lawful purposes.

In response to this overreach, citizens and companies created an National Ocean Policy Coalition (NOPC Logo, above).

That group has generally tried to responsibly react to the White House initiative by providing input, testimony and meeting with Administration officials.

Our readers know, however, that we have shown this Administration to be unconcerned with responsible comment about its programs.  It goes through the motions of holding public hearings before proceeding to do what it wished to do from the outset.

This is one of many reasons we consider the Administration to have broken faith with Americans by violating the rule of law.  When the citizens no longer trust in the rule of law, confrontation between those governing and the governed becomes more likely.

Today, we received a special report from the National Ocean Policy Coalition -- which includes several Alaska public interest organizations.  Its extensive reports include: I. NOPC Submits Mid-Atlantic Ocean Planning Comments, RPB Announces Meeting; II. New Request for Proposals Seeks Additional Assistance for Northeast RPB; III. New England Fishery Mgmt. Council Meeting to Include Northeast RPB Update; IV. NOAA Proposes Nearly Tripling Size of Two Marine Sanctuaries Offshore CA; V. MPA Federal Advisory Cmte Seeks Nominations, Announces Meeting.

We compliment supporters of NOPC for their hard work but urge readers to be more suspicious than ever of the motives of an overreaching federal government.  After all, when fully implemented, a national ocean policy could make virtually all human activity subject to government oversight -- since it is designed to regulate activities affecting the oceans and Great Lakes and the watersheds feeding them (i.e. the whole country).

Can you imagine the new bureaucracy that will be recruited from the ranks of the 'faithful' to fully implement a program to control the rest of us?   

Farmers, parking lot owners, contractors and municipalities are especially at risk, for the water flowing from these sources -- and every rooftop -- will likely carry something worthy of regulation into a body of water that is, ultimately, ocean bound.

This is why we urge NOPC and every other citizen who takes an interest in this matter to cease cooperating with the concept and begin to fight for its outright demise!  White House organizers will scoff at suggestions they will overreach.  But if citizens and Congress let the Administration put the bureaucracy in place, the deluge of future controls and regulations will be impossible to contain.

It is an environmental activist's dream come true--or a tyrant's.  -dh

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4-16-14

16 April 2014 7:49am

On the online opinion pages of The Oregonian, David Holt, Lake Hood, CEA, Consumer, Portland, Alaska oil, Photo by Dave HarbourDavid Holt (NGP Photo) explores why west coast states will benefit the most if the U.S. utilizes Alaska energy resources.   ...  According to the EIA, Oregonians spend more than $9 billion on petroleum products each year. Energy consumption in Oregon continues to increase, but Oregon only produces about one-third of the energy it uses.  ...  The state has therefore been highly dependent on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and would be highly vulnerable should the pipeline cease operation. More than 80 percent of the crude oil eventually used in Oregon originates in the Alaska North Slope oil fields.  (More here....)


The Global Economic Forecast and Alaska’s Outlook

by

Katie Bender

Alaska's Most Under Reported News Events

by

Dave Harbour

Alaskan television channel news efforts veer leftward as do several online news efforts.

Anchorage and Fairbanks newspapers veer leftward, partially offset by the more conservative, daily Juneau Empire and its weekly cousin, the Alaska Journal of Commerce and the Kenai Peninsula Clarion -- all owned by Morris Communications.

Some of the more independent, smaller market newspapers and business magazines in the state are prone toward a free market message but with limited audiences.  Others also veer to the left of center.

The leftward direction in editorial policy and assignment reporting generally means that newsworthy events reflecting well on business and the free market receive marginal coverage.  Left leaning elected leaders are courted for comments on everything.  When business makes a mistake, headlines make sure not a single sober soul is unaware.  A liberal faux pas is hardly ever investigated, if noticed at all.

It's somewhat ironic that there isn't more support for balanced, economic reporting when one considers that media ratings and circulation and advertising all benefit from a robust economy.

Last Thursday's economic luncheon in Anchorage is a case in point.  While the guest speaker's message conveyed economic risks that, "...families, businesses and government must consider," only those present heard the risks articulated.  One can't consider what wasn't reported.  Several of the aforementioned business publications were present, but most left-leaners were noticeably absent from a standing room only event in one of Anchorage's major convention venues!  (More reports and event photos below.)

Last Friday's Commonwealth North Energy Action Coalition chaired by long-time Alaska energy expert Mary Ann Pease ​ (Photo below) featured Scott Jepsen, Vice President of External Affairs, ConocoPhillips Alaska, who gave a briefing on ConocoPhillips' extensive Alaska North Slope and Cook Inlet development activities resulting, in part, from SB 21, the production tax reform bill enacted by the Legislature a year ago.  (More reporting and event photos below.)

During the winter, the Resource Development Council for Alaska and Alaska Support Industry Alliance provide -- for members and the general public -- weekly natural resource speakers who address the core issues of Alaska's economic prosperity.  The Alaska Miners meet weekly in the winter.

Seldom do these events and compelling speakers receive widespread news media attention.

Readers interested in becoming more informed on critical issues may begin by attending another Commonwealth North event later this month...and an annual, Alaska Oil and Gas Association briefing in June.

And, having talked with my Canadian colleagues extensively on this subject, I know the concern is shared there, as well.

Hopefully, greater attention focused on improving understanding of critical issues will also improve our ability to better deal with today's myriad, economic -- and national security -- challenges throughout northern North America!

From his presentation at Northrim's Economic Luncheon, Guest author Bill Conerly (NGP Bill Conerly, Northrim Bank, Alaskanomics, Photo by Dave HarbourPhoto) gives his reflection on the global economic forecast and Alaska's outlook.

The national and global economy offer moderately positive news for Alaska, though risks are significant. The four key elements of the big picture that are important to Alaskans are consumer spending, federal spending (especially defense), the global economy and energy prices.

Consumers across the country have been increasing their spending about in pace with income gains. They are not stretching, using a great deal of credit to extend their spending. Neither are they crawling into a hole, cutting expenditures to a minimum, as they did in the darkest days of the recession. One of the bright spots for consumer discretionary spending is how people feel about their houses. Home prices have risen nicely in the past year and buyers are scouring many markets hoping to find one last deal. In that context, consumers feel good about their finances. Their homes are not so valuable that they can justify an Alaskan vacation simply based on housing appreciation. However, if their income justifies the vacation, then the housing market is no longer an excuse to stay home.

Federal government spending has to tighten in the so-called discretionary category, because our path for entitlements spending is pretty staggering. Medicare expenditures by the federal government are poised to rise at a staggering pace, thanks to baby boomers turning 65 and getting new hips and knees and drugs. Taxes are likely to go up, but also defense spending will probably drop.

Defense spending has declined 11 percent since mid-2010. Unless a major new war breaks out, expect further reductions. Alaskans should keep in mind that at some point, across-the-board spending cuts turn into base closing. When that happens, most bases will be unaffected. But those that are affected may be totally eliminated. That’s a key risk to Alaska.

The global economy impacts Alaska through international tourism and international trade. The outlook is for better growth this year and next, though risks continue. The European financial crisis could flare up again—those weak countries are not totally safe yet. The Russia-Ukraine problems could turn into war, which would be very bad for the economy. (The folklore of war being good for the economy is false in general, though some sectors do benefit.) In addition, China’s deceleration may continue, though the mainstream economic forecast is for steady growth at a moderately good pace.

Finally, the energy market is probably the greatest long-term threat to Alaska’s economy. The lower 48 states are in an energy boom thanks to fracking and other new technologies. That boom has not yet extended to foreign countries, whose oilfields are mostly controlled by state-owned oil companies. Eventually, though, political in-fighting and bureaucratic lethargy will be replaced by greed. When that happens, exploration will blossom in many countries. As new production comes to market, oil prices will drop significantly. Global economic expansion will use up some of the new supply, but not all of it. Thus, prices will fall. Not this year or next, but in the coming five to ten years, look for significantly lower revenue per barrel of oil.

Before coming to a conclusion, understand the limitations of this commentary. It is about the world external to Alaska. A wise business leader will add to this information knowledge internal to Alaska: oil taxes, native corporations, the attitudes of small business owners and a host of other local factors.

This global and national economic environment is moderately positive for Alaska, but it contains risks that families, businesses and government must consider.


Town Hall, by Michael Whatley Michael Whatley, Keystone XL, Trans Alaska, Photo by Dave Harbour(NGP Photo).  If there were any doubt about the importance of pipelines to national security, it ought to have been erased by recent events in Crimea and Ukraine as the Russian Bear has pawed away the former from the latter. Europe is vulnerable because 16% of its natural gas comes through Ukraine. It is a powerful reminder of why the Keystone XL Pipeline is critical to our own national security.  ...   With the vast majority of Alaskan oil feeding into West Coast refineries, it is critical to keep the TAPs pipeline flowing for the benefit of the entire United States....  -dh)

 

  Northrim Economic Briefing.

Last week, Northrim Bank hosted three economic update luncheons. The annual luncheons were held in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and this year Juneau as a result of the acquisition of Alaska Pacific Bank. Speakers included Northrim Bank President & CEO Joe Beedle (NGP Photo with Conerly), Northrim Bank Economist Mark Edwards (NGP Photo), and guest speaker Dr. Bill Conerly, business strategy consultant, online contributor to Forbes and author of Businomics.  (More event photos below)

Guests heard updates on Alaska’s economy and a special presentation on the economic issues affecting Alaska and the nation. Beedle provided information specific to each region in his remarks. Each presentation is attached below. 

Guests also received a copy of the Alaska Economic Update for Spring 2014. The update was written by Bank Economist, Mark Edwards, and in the coming weeks, Alaskanomics will review each of the sections and highlight information in individual blog posts. The full update is linked below.

To wrap up each luncheon, Northrim Bank presented donations to University of Alaska programs. Over the years, Northrim has given nearly $4 million to Alaskan higher education. Northrim invests in the community and is proud to support organizations that are helping build a stronger community for the future.

  • University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management-$50,000
  • University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research $100,000
  • University of Alaska Anchorage Small Business Development Center $50,000
  • University of Alaska Knudson Scholarship Fund- $4,500
  • University of Alaska Southeast School of Management -$25,000
  • University of Alaska Ketchikan Campus- $5,000
  • University of Alaska Sitka Campus $5,000

Stay tuned next week for a more in-depth discussion of the economic update.

2014 Economic Luncheon - Fairbanks

2014 Economic Luncheon - Anchorage

2014 Economic Luncheon - Juneau

Economic Report Update

 Commonwealth North Energy Briefing.

(More event photos below)

Commonwealth North Event Photos.

Northrim Event Photos.

4-15-14 Alaskanomics

15 April 2014 7:38am

 

Joe Balash, Natural Resources, Commissioner, Alaska, ACES, AGIA, Palin, Photo by Dave HarbourKTUU.  In this year’s legislative push to approve an all-Alaska natural gas pipeline, the driving force has been state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash (NGP Photo).

"It's kind of like a big boulder," Balash said. "Once you get it moving, you want to keep it moving."

Alaska Economic Update: Interest Rates, by Katie Bender.  As readers review this, consider the effect of interest rate increases on Alaska state budget debt, on the cost of debt to fund state projects and on the effect of higher interest rates on the metrics of capital purchases for a gas pipeline, a bridge or a hydroelectric dam -- and on future inflation.  -dh

...since the end of 2012 interest rates for all maturities longer than one year have risen.  The 10 year bond is highlighted.  It rose 1.26% in 2013.  Expectations are for rates to continue to rise as the Fed tapers it’s purchasing of longer maturity bonds and mortgage backed securities now that the unemployment rate has hit their target goal of 7%.  At 6.5% they have signaled that they would start pushing the overnight Fed Funds rate up, which would create separation on the left side of the graph.  It has remained at the historically low 0% - 0.25% target rate since December of 2008.  This is unprecedented accommodative monetary policy for an extended period of time.  It is likely that any rate Fed Funds rate increase would come at a slow and measured pace.

Interest Rates Graph

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4-14-14

14 April 2014 7:58am

This Morning at 8:30 a.m. Alaska Time (12:30 EST), the House Finance Committee met for its gas pipeline/oil production tax hearing.  


U.S. Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Murkowski, LNG Export, Nikiski, Alaska, Photo by Dave Harbour, ConocoPhillips (NGP Photo) today commented on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement that ConocoPhillips’ non-Free Trade Agreement (FTA) liquefied natural gas (LNG) export license has been approved.

“I’m glad ConocoPhillips will be able to add to Alaska’s 40-year history of supplying natural gas to Japan,” Murkowski said. “Today’s announcement by DOE also highlights the growth that’s occurring in Cook Inlet, where there is now ample gas supply to both meet local needs and help out our friends overseas.”

In February, DOE approved ConocoPhillips’ application to ship the equivalent of 40 Bcf of natural gas as LNG over a two-year period from its plant on the Kenai Peninsula to countries which have free trade agreements with the United States. 

Murkowski is the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

-dh

TODAY'S LATEST ON HYDRAULIC FRACTURING FROM ENERGY IN DEPTH:

Washington Times, Editorial. At 8 percent, the California unemployment rate is higher than in all but three other states. The Legislature apparently likes it that way. The lawmakers are on their way to banning a technology that could create 200,000 jobs and inject millions of dollars into the state’s economy.   Glenwood Springs Post Independent, LTE. As a recent letter to the editor exemplifies, activists have been trying to push the claim that shale development will cause widespread birth defects and cancer, but those claims (and activists) have been debunked time and time again. The latest example can be found in a recent Colorado School of Public Health report. The report was highly criticized for its faulty methodology — most notably by Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).  Reno Gazette-Journal. In a state world-famous as a gold producer, Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. is looking deep underground to make big bucks from previously untappable oil deposits, spending up to $130 million to identify the possible rewards.  Star Tribune. North Dakota’s oil boom has lured thousands of new workers to the state, but it still needs more. Minnesota’s neighbor to the northwest is on the verge of a new national advertising campaign that it’s calling “Find the Good Life in North Dakota.” The hope is to lure enough warm bodies — and skilled workers — to fill 25,000 jobs now vacant, and another 76,000 that it expects to see by the end of the decade.  Wheeling Intelligencer. Fossil Creek Ohio is signing Utica Shale leases in Marshall County, with plans to start sinking wells in the near future. The company said each well will cost up to $22 million to drill, compared to about $7 million that some companies have publicly said they are paying to drill in the Marcellus.  Athens News, LTE. It is time to get fracking here in Ohio. Former Obama Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar this past February said that hydraulic fracturing is safe....  ? Houston Chronicle. "The boom is in all areas of Texas' oil and gas industry. I have been watching the oil and gas industry for 40 years and I have never seen anything like this. This boom is the biggest thing to happen in Texas since Spindletop in 1901," said Bernard Weinstein, assistant director, Maguire Institute, Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University.   
Latest Texas oil boom creates population surge. Longview News-Journal. New census data show a population surge as the oil boom draws workers and families to oilfields around the country. Some of the nation’s fastest-growing communities include Midland and Odessa in the Permian Basin and three cities near North Dakota’s Bakken Shale field: Williston, Dickinson and Minot.  Corpus Christi Caller Times. Eagle Ford Shale growth is driving a nearly 25-percent revenue growth spurt at the Port of Corpus Christi, port officials said.  San Antonio Business Journal. The number of oil and gas wells in the Eagle Ford Shale reached 1,110 in the first quarter, down 61 wells — or 5 percent — from the final quarter of 2013, according to new data from oilfield-services giant Baker Hughes.
 

4-13-14 Skagway: A New Oil Terminus For Canadian Oil?

13 April 2014 12:48pm

ADN.  Alaskans know Valdez as the state's oil port of choice, but an independent Yukon oil producer is planning to make Skagway No. 2 on the list of Alaska oil ports.  Last week, Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer announced that officials from Northern Cross Yukon are interested in using the port of Skagway to export crude oil to a refinery in Washington state.

4-12-14

12 April 2014 10:16pm

Journal of Commerce/AP by Becky Bohrer.  The House Rules Committee on April 8 advanced legislation that would allow out-of-state residents to serve on the board of directors of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

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