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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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18 July 2015 11:13am

Mike Burns, Alaska Permanent Fund, Copyright 2008 Dave HarbourPoint of personal privilege: We pay homage to our late friend, Mike Burns (NGP Photo).  This obituary is very well done.    ADN report.  -dh

Petroleum News by Kristen Nelson.  The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority will keep Fairbanks Natural Gas management in place as it works toward expanding natural gas service in Fairbanks-North Pole area. In a July 10 submission of supplemental information regarding its application to acquire a controlling interest in....

Petroleum News by Gary Park.  British Columbia Premier Christy Clark wants to make real history in the provincial legislature this month by adopting a Liquefied Natural Gas Project Agreements Act that gives her government the legal authority to approve the C$36 billion Pacific NorthWest LNG project led by Malaysia’s Petronas and enter into similar terms with other would-be LNG developers over the next 10 years.

July 16, 2015 ANCHORAGE – Governor Bill Walker today joined Alaskans in mourning the loss of Mike Burns, former Executive Director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. Burns retired from the position last month, after serving as the Corporation’s head for over 10 years.



“It is with a heavy heart that I deliver my most sincere condolences to the family of Mike Burns,” said Governor Walker. “Mike led the Corporation to achieve unprecedented growth during a time of great economic difficultly. I can say without a doubt that every Alaskan owes him a debt of gratitude, and that his leadership will be missed by many. Donna and I are praying for the entire Burns family, and anyone who had the great pleasure of calling Mike a friend.”

In addition to his work in the financial industry, Burns was also active in numerous community, state, and civic organizations. He served three terms as chair of the University of Alaska Board of Regents, and as a member of the University of Alaska Foundation Board of Trustees. An Alaska flag will be flown over the Capitol building in Burns’ honor, and presented to his family.


17 July 2015 8:04am

Journal of Commerce by Elwood Brehmer.  

Three of the state’s mega projects are back in business, at least temporarily, after Gov. Bill Walker’s administration partially lifted an administrative order halting spending on the development work.

State officials overseeing the Knik Arm bridge, the Susitna-Watana dam and the Juneau access road all got the go-ahead to continue work with existing funding in memos sent out by Office of Management and Budget Director Pat Pitney July 6.

Each of the memos notes that once authorized work is completed and immediate goals are met the projects will be evaluated in the context of the state fiscal environment and competing major capital projects at that time.

On Dec. 26 of last year Walker issued Administrative Order 271, which stopped spending on six projects in its tracks: the Knik Arm bridge; the Susitna-Watana dam; the Juneau access road; the Alaska Stand-Alone Pipeline, or ASAP, natural gas project; the Kodiak Launch Facility expansion; and the Ambler Mining District industrial access road.   More....

7-16-15 PLF Takes On WOTUS, Thank Goodness!

16 July 2015 4:27am

After filing objections to the EPA and Corps of Engineers' proposed "waters of the United States" rule in 2014, Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys have fulfilled their pledge to challenge the rule in court. Yesterday, PLF filed a lawsuit on behalf of several agricultural organizations and property owners because the regulation expands the scope of the Clean Water Act to an unprecedented extent, violating the terms of the Act and the Constitution's limits on federal authority. 

In this new Courting Liberty podcast, PLF Principal Attorney M. Reed Hopper discusses this new WOTUS challenge.

"We are suing to block the administration's breathtaking attempt to control practically every pond, puddle, and ditch in the country," stated PLF Principal Attorney M. Reed Hopper in a PLF news release.  "This new regulation is an open-ended license for federal bureaucrats to assert control over nearly all of the nation's water, and most of the property, from coast to coast."

The case is Washington Cattlemen's Association v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Read the complaint.




15 July 2015 3:21pm

Murkowski Calls Attention to Alaska’s Isolated Energy Systems

Calgary Herald by Dan Healing.  

Canada’s natural gas industry will continue to shrink unless liquefied natural gas export terminals are built, an outcome that requires prompt regulatory approvals, says the lobby group representing the largely Calgary-based oil and gas business.

In a report Wednesday, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said Canadian gas production will decline steadily over the next decade as burgeoning production from U.S. shale gas fields moves into its traditional consumer markets in the American Midwest and Northeast, as well as in Central Canada.

“Proposed LNG projects require timely political and regulatory decisions because global LNG competition is fierce and involves many well-established international suppliers,” CAPP president and chief executive Tim McMillan warned in a news release.

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

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