Anne Hillman, APRN - Anchorage
ahillman (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | About Anne
The community of Tok hosts a thick, growing forest of spruce trees, and a thinning, shrinking population of people and businesses. Like elsewhere in rural Alaska, high-energy costs and a lack of jobs are causing people to leave. But the trees may be the solution to bringing people back.
Wednesday the State released details about the new deal that will replace the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. It makes the state a partner in the development of a natural gas export line from the North Slope. But the government is also still moving ahead with their back-up plan, the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline.
Governor Sean Parnell announced Friday the state is taking a new approach to a large-scale natural gas line in Alaska, and is terminating the agreement signed with TransCanada under AGIA.
According to the state’s Department of Revenue, Cook Inlet production increased by 13 percent last year. Up-and-coming companies, like Hilcorp, spent $300 million this year on their investments, including drilling 10 new wells and working over more than 70 old ones. So does the Cook Inlet Renaissance mean that Southcentral’s energy woes are over?
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is seeking more information from Shell about their 2014 Chukchi Exploration Plan. Until Shell provides the agency with the answers for dozens of requested revisions, BOEM will not consider their application complete.
The state of Alaska is looking for partners to research a new source of natural gas called methane hydrates. It could bring in new revenue for the state far down the road, but some environmentalists worry the risk of releasing that much methane is too great.
Ahtna Incorporated is planning to develop natural gas wells near Glennallen in order to supply local communities. They recently licensed 44,000 acres of state land about 15 miles west of Glenallen. They would be the first organization to go beyond exploration all the way to production.
As energy bills are rising for most people across the state, the Alaska SeaLife Center’s are actually dropping. That’s because they’re using the cold waters of Resurrection Bay to heat their building.
ConocoPhillips announced Wednesday that they are adding another new drill rig to the Kuparak oil field on the North Slope. This is the second rig they’ve added this year since the new oil tax bill was signed into law. The drill rig they installed in May is producing 1,600 barrels of oil per day.
The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has revised their proposed hydraulic fracking regulations again. Some of the new rules aimed to give the public more information about the chemicals used in the controversial oil and gas extraction method. However in the latest version, companies are allowed to withhold some information from the public in order to protect their trade secrets.
The state is currently putting money toward five different large-scale projects aimed at reducing energy costs on the Railbelt. Some, like subsidizing Cook Inlet gas production, impact energy costs now and in the near term. Other projects, like the proposed LNG pipeline wouldn’t affect prices for at least a decade. The question is—should the state be supporting all of the projects?
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is the 800-mile long backbone of the state’s energy infrastructure. It’s built to transport up to 2 million barrels of oil per day, but these days it carries only about a quarter of that.
As Alaska’s natural gas prices continue to rise, the Alaska Energy Authority is working on a large-scale project aimed at steadying Railbelt energy costs and moving away from a reliance on fossil fuels. But critics say the potential environmental impacts of the proposed Susitna-Watana Dam could cost the lifestyles and livelihoods of Alaskans who rely on the river.
Soon after Alaska became a state, nearly 50 years ago, Exxon Mobil began buying leases at Pt. Thomson on the eastern side of the North Slope. Now, after a seven year legal battle with the state, they are starting to develop the area.
The CEO of Great Bear Petroleum says their new 3-D seismic data confirms a promising new oil resource in the shale rocks just south of Prudhoe Bay. Ed Duncan said they received the data late last month and are still examining it, but “every source rock that we predicted to be present, is present.”
More areas of the Chukchi Sea may open up for oil and gas exploration in 2016, but the decision has not been made yet. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is calling for comments on a proposed lease sale in the area. But this time they are doing things differently.
It may become easier for independent energy producers to provide power to the grid. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has agreed to review out-of-date statutes that some say are holding up renewable energy projects.