Headlamp – Logic and dictionaries needed in Juneau; Read my lips…

Headlamp presents the following first order logic problem:

  1. Premise: The House Majority introduced HB 288 – an increase to oil taxes.
  2. Premise: Their reasoning: “Stability in oil taxes ensures that present and future Alaskans can share in the benefits of Alaska’s natural resource wealth”
  3. Premise: Alaskans already share in Alaska’s natural resource wealth with the PFD and oil taxes that pay the majority of the state budget.
  4. Premise: The definition of stability from Merriam Webster dictionary: the quality or state of something that is not easily changed or likely to change.
  5. Premise: This would be the 8th change to oil taxes in 12 years.
  6. Conclusion: Logic and dictionaries were missing from this effort.

Knowles goes and takes everyone with him. Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles led a mass resignation this week from the advisory board of the National Park System. He’s served on the board since 2010. As first reported by The Washington Post, Knowles submitted a resignation letter Monday to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. It’s also signed by eight others on the 12-member board. Knowles says he’s concerned the Department of Interior is undoing much of the progress made in recent years, without even listening to the merits. “The department showed no interest in learning about or continuing to use the forward-thinking agenda of science, the effect of climate change, protections of the ecosystems, education,” Knowles said in a phone interview. “And it has rescinded NPS regulations of resource stewardship concerning those very things: biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change.”

Read my lips…The second session of the 30th Alaska Legislature is officially underway. Despite last year’s extended sessions that brought the state to the brink of a government shutdown, Senate leadership appears optimistic that the session may end within the first 90 days. The budget is a top priority for legislators this session, with the state’s annual budget deficit reaching $2.7 billion. “Any second session is somewhat a continuation of the session before because all of the bills are still live,” Fairbanks Republican and Senate President Pete Kelly said Tuesday. “The Senate is motivated and committed to continue downward pressure on the budget.” While closing the budget gap has been identified as a central focus of this session for the Senate, implementing a tax is still not an option.

Hilcorp pours money into the Kenai. Hilcorp is planning to spend about $285 million in Alaska during 2018, the oil and gas company’s Operations Manager Chad Helgeson told audiences at the Jan. 10 Kenai Peninsula Industry Outlook Forum. This investment will be “holding pretty flat to where we were last year,” Helgeson said. Of the $285 million, $83 million will be spent on new drilling, $96 million will go to operating expenses, taxes, and salaries, while the largest portion of the planned investment — $106 million — will be spent on infrastructure upgrades, such as replacing compressor control systems in Hilcorp’s pipeline network with modern digital controllers.

Job killing ballot initiative moves forward. The Stand for Salmon ballot initiative submitted more than 40,000 signatures to the state Division of Elections in Anchorage, which is enough to qualify as a ballot initiative for Alaska voters in November. The Stand for Salmon initiative would restrict interference with salmon habitats during a development project, like the proposed Pebble Mine. According to the Stand for Salmon website, the initiative would formally define characteristics of a healthy river in state law, update state listings of waters which support salmon, requires the state to notify the public of projects which could affect salmon and create salmon-protection standards developers must meet before their projects can move forward. Voters will determine if the Alaska law governing development in salmon habitat should be updated, something not done since statehood in 1959. Alaska state law requires that the Division of Elections has to certify that 10 percent of the people who voted in the state’s last general election signed the salmon proposal. If enough of the signatures are verified, roughly 32,000 people, then the initiative will be on the ballot for the November 6 general election.

Alaska take note: Policy enables, discoveries, activity, employment… At the same time as the petro-skeptical Liberal Party joins the ruling government coalition, the country’s oil minister announces a record number of new offshore drilling licenses. “Access to new, prospective exploration acreage is a central pillar in the Government’s petroleum policy,” Terje Søviknes, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy said as he this week announced the new round of so-called Awards in Pre-Defined Areas. It is the biggest number of new licenses ever issued as part of an APA-round. Of the 74 new licenses, 45 are in the North Sea, 22 in the Norwegian Sea and 8 in the Barents Sea. Statoil is the big winner with a total of 17 operatorships. Company AkerBP gets 14 operatorships, while Lundin gets six, half of them in the Barents Sea. American company ConocoPhillips is represented with four licenses. There are no Russian companies on the list. But OMV and Wintershall, two companies with Russian owner interests, both get license operator responsibility, and DEA, the company owned by Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne, gets shares in several licenses. The two northernmost licenses in the round are located on 73 degrees north. They will be operated by Statoil and Spirit respectively, both in partnership with AkerBP. “Our licensing policy enables the oil companies in making the discoveries we need to create future activity and employment opportunities, achieve effective resource management, high value creation and the financing of the welfare state,” Søviknes says.

From today’s Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

CEO OF TOP OIL GROUP TO STEP DOWN: Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute and the oil industry’s top lobbyist in Washington, will step down in August when his contract expires.

API, the main trade group representing the oil and natural gas industry, announced Gerard’s departure Wednesday morning after he spent a decade as CEO.

Industry man: Gerard, 60, has been a prominent energy lobbyist in Washington for decades, leading top fossil fuel industry trade associations from coal to chemicals to natural gas and oil. He joined API after leading the National Mining Association and American Chemistry Council.

‘Historical time:’ “Serving the oil and natural gas industry during this historic time, when an American energy renaissance has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer and refiner of oil and natural gas, has been among the most fulfilling professional experiences of my career,” Gerard said. “We have accomplished what few would have imagined: important public policy victories at all levels of government, and a revitalized association that has expanded globally and added significant strength to its advocacy capabilities.”

Gerard last week delivered API’s “State of American Energy” address, in which he touted his group’s role in achieving U.S. “energy abundance” while contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

First Reads:

Knowles quits National Parks panel, says new administration won’t listen
Alaska Public Media, Liz Ruskin, January 16, 2018

Alaska Senate majority stands against tax
Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Erin Granger, January 17, 2018

Hilcorp plans $285 million Alaska investment in 2018
The Peninsula Clarion, Ben Boettger, January 16, 2018

Salmon Initiative Is One Step Closer To Going To The Voters
KSRM Radio Group, Jennifer Williams, January 16, 2018

Norway issues 75 new offshore oil and gas drilling licenses
Arctic Now, Atle Staalesen, January 17, 2018