Morning Headlamp – Out with the old, In with the New

What People are saying about the sale of the Alaska Dispatch News:

New Owners: “The ADN can’t be allowed to go away. It’s too important to the city of Anchorage and to the state of Alaska,” the group said. “Alaska deserves and needs a robust and healthy paper of record as much as it needs any other public utility or infrastructure, particularly in these uncertain times.”

Old Owner: “We’ve worked hard to help illuminate the issues of our day and provide a platform for points of view from across Alaska,” Rogoff said Saturday. “Yet like newspapers everywhere, the struggle to make ends meet financially eventually caught up with us. I simply ran out of my ability to subsidize this great news product. Financial realities can’t be wished away.”

Craig Medred: “The new company faces big hurdles, but is now being driven by a new, younger generation with a can-do Alaskan attitude of an older Alaska. The Zak story in the ADN  optimistically had Binkley and Christianson saying that no layoffs are planned and that the newspaper will try to protect the jobs that are there  now. But those familiar with the ADN costs say significant cuts in staffing are unavoidable”

Must Read Alaska:  “The implications of the Dispatch bankruptcy filing are enormous. For the first time in a quarter century, Anchorage just might end up with a daily newspaper that does not slant hard to the left.”

AKHeadlamp: We wish the Binkley-Evans group well as they begin what we hope will be a positive transition for the city and state.  

Back on track. ConocoPhillips Alaska has launched drilling to unlock a stubborn pool of slow-moving viscous oil at a new site on the North Slope, the company announced Friday with a tweet. “We’ve got NEWS (1H)!” the oil giant said on Twitter, in a reference to the field’s unusual name. The so-called 1H NEWS project was delayed last year after oil prices plunged. But company officials in July told Wall Street investors the $460 million project was back on track. Oil should be flowing by year’s end, said Al Hirshberg, a ConocoPhillips executive vice president. The field is expected to produce about 8,000 barrels of oil daily, adding to the 530,000 barrels of oil produced daily on the Slope so far this year.

Norwegian NIMBY’S. Norway’s oil industry has been salivating for years over the Arctic Lofoten islands, which could hold billions of barrels of crude. It will likely have to keep dreaming. The general election next month is unlikely to lift a deadlock that’s keeping a ban on drilling off the environmentally sensitive archipelago as more Norwegians are turning their backs on the industry that helped make the country one of the world’s richest. “It’s a dead issue,” said Frank Aarebrot, a professor of political science at the University of Bergen. Backed by unions and business, Norway’s two biggest parties, Labor and the Conservatives, have long favored steps that could open up the area for exploration. But so far they have had to compromise with smaller parties that are determined to keep Lofoten oil-free.

Distillate demand. U.S. refiners such as PBF Energy and Valero Energy are heading into the winter season on their best footing in years, as months of surprisingly robust distillate demand has eaten away at stubbornly high inventories and boosted margins. Inventories of diesel, heating oil and jet fuel are approaching their lowest seasonal levels in three years, fueling expectations among refining executives, traders and analysts that strong margins will help the bottom line for refiners through year-end.

“With the distillate inventory correction at a somewhat speedier pace than gasoline, we expect distillate to come close to or even fully correct the imbalance by the end of the year,” Barclays said in a research note on Wednesday.

Fed funding fleeting for ferry. The design and funding for a new Alaska state ferry are ready to go, but the federal government is not. The Juneau Empire reports Alaska Department of Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken Friday warned members of the state Marine Transportation Advisory Board that an effort to build a new oceangoing ferry may run into trouble with the federal government. Under federal law, “all steel or iron products that are permanently incorporated in a federal-aid highway construction project” must be made in a “domestic manufacturing process.” That law holds true even if no one in the United States builds a particular part. The only way to get around the law is to request a waiver from the administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, and President Trump has yet to appoint one.

It takes a village. The Trump administration has moved to dismantle climate adaptation programs including the Denali Commission, an Anchorage-based agency that is crafting a plan to safeguard or relocate dozens of towns at risk from rising sea levels, storms and the winnowing away of sea ice. Federal assistance for these towns has been ponderous but could now grind to a halt, with even those working on the issue seemingly targeted by the administration. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, 31 Alaskan communities face “imminent” existential threats from coastline erosion, flooding and other consequences of temperatures that are rising twice as quickly in the state as the global average. A handful – Kivalina, Newtok, Shishmaref and Shaktoolik – are considered in particularly perilous positions and will need to be moved.

First Reads:

Alaska Dispatch News files for bankruptcy; new publishers emerge
Alaska Dispatch News, Annie Zak, August 12, 2017

Dispatch in Bankruptcy, Craig Medred, August 13, 2017

End of an error? Alaska Dispatch bankruptcy, sale details emerge
Must Read Alaska, Suzanne Downing, August 13, 2017

ConocoPhillips launches drilling at a North Slope oil field
Arctic Now/Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, August 14, 2017

Big Oil’s dream of $65 billion hidden off Norway is fading away
Arctic Now, Bloomberg, Mikael Holter, August 14, 2017

Distillates to boost U.S. refiners’ bottom line through year-end
Reuters, Devika Krishna Kumar and Jarrett Renshaw, August 11, 2916

Federal government stalling construction of new Alaska ferry
KTVA, Associated Press Writers, August 14, 2017

Alaskan towns at risk from rising seas sound alarm as Trump pulls federal help
The Guardian, Oliver Milman, August 10, 2017