Morning Headlamp – Mergers, Audits and Pipelines

Deadline Looms. Bill Walker continues to attempt to entice world leaders’ support for the Alaska LNG project. On Tuesday he said he would personally put in a word with President Donald Trump and is now trying to meet with Japan’s prime minister, following recent talks with the Chinese president. Whether the high-level efforts boost the fortunes of the $45 billion liquefied-natural-gas project, known as Alaska LNG, is yet to be seen. Walker had proposed a Sept. 1 deadline to line up critical business partners before pulling the plug on the costly undertaking. On Tuesday, he said he was hopeful the prominent attention would lead to financial commitments to push the proposal into construction. He didn’t back off the deadline, though he seemed to keep his options open, “it’d be great if we had someone by then, we’ll have to evaluate by then where we are, what we’ve received, and how the world has changed.”

More money coming. Oil and gas companies in Alaska owe the state $194 million in unpaid taxes and interest from 2010, according to a summary of recently completed audits of that year’s oil and gas production tax returns. The back-taxes assessment comes atop the roughly $3.5 billion collected that year from the production tax that has usually provided Alaska with most of its general fund revenue. The income from the tax has fallen dramatically in recent years with the collapse in oil prices. The audits assessed an additional $131 million in production taxes for 2010, along with $63 million in interest. The audits are confidential under state law, as are the tax returns. The 12 companies whose returns were audited were not named in the summary.

Spend money to save money. A committee of Alaska legislative leaders Wednesday unanimously approved a $400,000 computer upgrade for lawmakers and staff — a step that could ultimately save $150,000 on annual moving costs. The “workstation mobility” project will pay for new monitors, color printers and docking stations in Juneau and legislators’ home districts that will plug into a laptop or small computer that can be easily carried between the two offices. Currently, the state pays for lawmakers to move desktop computers and other equipment between Juneau and Anchorage — a process that takes weeks and involves hundreds of boxes.

Two become one? In a letter to the Chugach Electric Association and Municipal Light & Power, Anchorage Economic Development Corp. President Bill Popp said the utilities and stakeholders should have “substantive discussions” about a merger. The suggestions are the product of a working group, convened by Anchorage Economic Development Corp, of 10 companies and organizations that have “significant property investments in both ML&P and CEA service areas,” AEDC said in a news release. Those include the Alaska Railroad Corp., GCI, JL Properties, Alaska Regional Hospital and others. ML&P and Chugach do not compete for the same customers because they both serve distinct, different areas of Anchorage.


First Reads

Governor says Alaska LNG on world leaders’ radars as he pursues partners

Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, April 13, 2017

Oil companies owe $194M in 2010 tax and interest, state says

Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, April 13, 2017

Alaska House votes to restructure Permanent Fund and slice dividends

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, April 13, 2017

Alaska lawmakers approve $400,000 computer upgrade

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, April 13, 2017

Major Anchorage businesses again encourage power utilities to merge

Alaska Dispatch News, Annie Zak, April 13, 2017