Lawmakers Struggle With OCS Complexity
Commentary and Report (Planned for completion 9-28)
Dave Harbour (ABM link)
Alaska Senate Resource Co-chairmen, Senators Bill Wielechowski and Lesil McGuire (NGP Photo) presided over a full house at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office yesterday (9-21-10), dealing with the infinitely complex subject of Arctic oil spill preparation and response. They approached the potentially controversial and divisive challenge with tact and courtesy. Invited witnesses seemed cooperative. While appearances can be deceiving, one could observe a common theme that nowhere in the world are oil and gas industry contingencies better anticipated than in the North American Arctic, though, as in all human endeavor constant improvement is both possible and desired.
Wielechowski opened by observing that his goal for the hearing was to, avoid controversy and asses Alaska’s OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) oil and gas exploration and development with the needs of both the nation and the state in mind. He said that while — in contrast to deep water Gulf of Mexico (GOM) operations — Alaska’s OCS is primarily focused on shallow water prospects, unlike the GOM, Alaska has ice and other peculiar challenges affecting mammals, humans and the general environment. "We want to do it right," he said, and noted OCS activity is critical to Alaska’s economic health.
McGuire stressed the importance of conducting a credible, balanced and informal process for the hearing. "We wanted to wait to give time for the experts in the Gulf to contain that oil spil and respond so that these hearings wouldn’t be a catalyst for more controversy," she said.
Alaska Oil and Gas Association Executive Director Marilyn Crockett (NGP Photo) said that, "Industry capabilities and requirements is an appropriate first step," in approaching the subject, observing that, "Alaska takes the lead in oil spill and clean up response." Representative David Guttenberg (NGP Photo) expressed concern with the history of spills and noted that, "successful outcomes is what we’re looking for."
Becky Silves (NGP Photo-lower left) serves as the Alaska Emergency Response Coordinator for ConocoPhillips (HSE Alaska Drills and Training Coordinator). She stressed the importance of satellite tracking capability and that before the first exploration well is drilled in 2012 or 2013 ( or later) that, "Oil spill recovery equipment will be available on-site to provide for immediate response in the event of a spill." When Wielechowski questioned her about spill response in winter, Arctic conditions, Silves noted that while there are challenges associated with oil recovery in icy water, the industry had about a decade to prepare for year-round development. She said that before development could occur, exploration would proceed only on, "open water" and only during the warm months when ice is not present. When McGuire inquired about ice being swept into "open water" exploration areas during the spring and fall "shoulder seasons," Silves emphasized the value of satellite tracking which would enable operators to shut down exploratory operations in threatening ice conditions. Guttenberg expressed concern for the lack of infrastructure referring to all of the hotels and other support services and infrastructure required in the GOM just to, "bring in 100 workers." Silves said the company’s initial and "very preliminary" thinking involved — as in the Exxon Valdez experience — using barge housing "on the water". Guttenberg observed that 150′ of water was probably approaching the limit for divers who could repair underwater assets and wondered about the use of remotely operated undersea vehicles. Silves said that all such alternatives would be "looked at".
Shell’s Alaska General Manager Pete Slaiby (NGP Photo-r) then reviewed the ….
…much more coming Friday….comments of Craig Johnson, Jeff Short, Lois Epstein, Nancy Wainwright, Harold Curran, Mike Munger, Mark Swanson, Larry Dietrick, Larry Hartig, Dan Seamount, Cathy Foerster, Kevin Banks. (Note: We always urge readers to offer additions/corrections to our stories. This distinguishes us from mainstream media. While we sometimes opine, we love the facts and urge everyone to help keep us focused on accurate reporting. See related story: KTUU. -dh)
Yesterday. Those trying to develop Alaska’s vast natural gas reserves, both for local consumption and export, told the state’s business leaders Tuesday that the state is on track, or multiple tracks, to get a natural gas pipeline. Two big pipeline efforts are underway, seeking to build a 48-inch-wide pipeline through Canada, to feed gas into the U.S. Midwest, an industry panel told the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce convention Tuesday. … Denali’s Dave MacDowell (NGP Photo-l) said the company has spent $150 million developing a pipeline plan, and is now out seeking bids from customers who want to ship gas through that line in a process called "open season." … The state-sponsored Alaska Natural Gas Development Corp. is studying a "bullet line," a small diameter line that would be somewhat cheaper to build but would not provide enough gas for export. "What happens if those big pipes are delayed? There needs to be a backup plan," said Bryan Butcher (NGP Photo-r), the venture’s vice president for public affairs. … Federal Pipeline Coordinator Larry Persily (NPG Photo-l, below) said the bullet line could provide neither the cheap energy nor the revenue to the state that the Denali and TransCanada plans may be able to. "This is why you shouldn’t give up on the big pipe," he said. … Persily said that contrary to some opponents’ statements, there is a strong market for Alaska’s gas in North America, a stronger market than the export market for liquefied natural gas. Juneau Empire by Pat Forgey.
Today. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s (NGP Photo) Energy Task Force Meeting: will include a review and updating of the Energy Transition Report created a year ago.
Tonight. WE URGE ALL ANCHORAGE-BASED NGP READERS TO GO HERE AFTER DINNER TONIGHT: The Future of Offshore Drilling in Alaska: The Risk/Reward Balance. The forum will be at UAA’s Wendy Williamson Auditorium on Wednesday, September 22nd, 7-9pm. The International Association of Energy Economists are sponsoring the event and say the purpose of the forum will be to present a variety of perspectives to the public, and to conduct a deliberative discussion surrounding the benefits and risks of Arctic drilling within the contexts of the following:
Next week. 6th Annual Alaska Oil & Gas Congress. Conference co-chairs: Dave Harbour, Publisher, Northern Gas Pipelines and Margaret Brown, President & Chief Executive Officer, Cook Inlet Region Incorporated • Larry Persily, Federal Coordinator, Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects … Alaska Gas Pipeline ü Key insights from the Joint In-State Gas line Development Team on in-state gas development ü Global natural gas supply/demand trends and impact on Arctic gas ü How the state of Alaska is expediting the … Latest News – http://www.prlog.org/page1.html