Morning Headlamp – California dreamin’ and apocalypse now.

California dreamin’. A California-based transportation company has spent more than $700 million to enter the Alaska market over two years by buying up freight companies and upgrading facilities. Officials with Matson on Tuesday said they are taking a long view and are ready to jump at new opportunities in Alaska, including a rebound in oil patch activity if prices rise or, more remotely, if Alaska’s giant gas-export project enters construction. Matson, headquartered in Oakland, California, acquired Horizon Lines’ Alaska operations in 2015 and cargo hauler Span Alaska in 2016. The purchases totaled $669 million. The company slightly boosted its workforce at its Alaska operations following the acquisitions. It now employs more than 300 in the state, officials said.

Lawmakers Look to Energy Industry to Solve Budget Issues. David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, wrote a piece in the Juneau Empire highlighting the irresponsible spending of the legislature while continuing to place the fiscal burden on the energy industry. Oil and gas is responsible for nearly one out of every three jobs in the state. Ninety percent of the state’s revenues are tied to energy production. House Bill 111, which passed the house in April and was adopted in an amended form last week in the state senate, is now poised to put those jobs and the state’s economy in peril. The tax hike in the House version of the bill is projected to skyrocket from $130 million in 2019 to an astounding $485 million by 2026. A tax increase on energy production would be the seventh change to the state’s energy tax structure in the past 12 years.

Buy low, sell high. President Trump’s plan to sell oil from the US strategic reserve to raise funds could help OPEC rebalance global petroleum markets. Sales could start with $500 million in 2018 and get as high as $3.9 billion in 2027.

Working hard? Or hardly working. While the special session isn’t over yet, the majority of our legislators are headed home in an effort to save the state money. With estimates that special session in Juneau costs around $30,000 per day, Headlamp applauds what should be the first step in practicing what they preach: government efficiency. When conference committees finish their work and all legislators are needed to vote the compromise bills up or down, Headlamp suggests they take their fiscal restraint one step further and hold the meetings on the road system.

Apocalypse Now! The abundance of shale gas in the Marcellus basin has resulted in the construction of dozens of power plants in the region. The problem: not enough electricity demand. “Everything in fossil fuels is for sale,” said Ted Brandt, chief executive officer at Marathon Capital LLC, a mergers-and-acquisitions adviser in Chicago. “People are bleeding.”

First Reads

Alaska acquisitions, upgrades exceed $700 million for shipper Matson

Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, May 24, 2017

Raiding energy industry to solve budget crisis will create more problems

Juneau Empire, David Williams, May 23, 2017

Proposed U.S. oil reserve sales could boost, not hurt, OPEC’s plan

Reuters, Catherine Ngai, May 23, 2017

Special session isn’t over, but lawmakers are headed home
KTVA, Liz Raines, May 23, 2017

`Gas Apocalypse’ Looms Amid Power Plant Construction Boom

Bloomberg, Naureen S. Malik & Brian Eckhouse, May 23, 2017