Last week, the Resource Development Council (RDC) hosted its 40th Annual Alaska Resources Conference in Anchorage. The event is the chance for leaders from the tourism, fishery, oil and gas, mining, and forestry industries to come together and share highlights and frustrations from the past year and look forward to the coming year.
Overall the presenters and attendees were optimistic about the future of the resources industries in Alaska. There were concerns due to the tariffs being raised on fish, timber, and other goods. The other overwhelming concern came from the possibility of yet another ballot initiative to regulate oil taxes on the North Slope. The group OneALAKSA has been created to protect Alaska’s economy and oppose the Fair Share oil tax measure – an initiative to raise oil taxes that will likely be on the 2020 ballot. OneALASKA is a diverse group that includes organized labor, business and Alaska Native corporations, outdoor recreation, small business, and non-partisan political leaders. The group is working to make sure the ballot initiative does not make it on the 2020 ballot, and if it does, they will fight to oppose it.
Industry representatives painted an optimistic picture for 2020 and moving forward, dependent on the tax structure staying consistent and tariffs on goods. Most were moving forward with plans for expanded development and exploration and new projects.
It was clear that Alaska is moving out of the recession of the past few years, but speakers were hesitant to say that it was officially over. Individual presenters were happy to report milestones in their industry, such as Fort Knox pouring its 8 millionth ounce of gold this past October. BP expressed gratitude to Alaska for the past 60 years of exploration and development and was happy to have Hilcorp bring new life to the legacy fields on the North Slope.
The two days of the Alaska Resources Conference is always a time to celebrate past victories and rally around new challenges. This year was no exception. The room was more optimistic than the recent past, but that optimism had shades of apprehension over forces outside of the industries that could impact landscape of resource development in Alaska.
All presentations, including videos of each session, are located on RDC’s website.