Alaska Business Insider

Alaska’s economy never stands still. One minute the oil industry is booming while tourism companies are tottering, and the next the construction industry is laying down its hammers while fishermen are enjoying strong catches.

In this blog we’ll track those highs and lows, resource development disputes, new ventures and many other topics. We’ll rely on our own reporting as well as bring you relevant news from other media or any other source that has information of interest to people following Alaska industries, from mining to retail to real estate.

We encourage your comments on our posts, but please keep them courteous and on topic. If you violate the ADN comment policy, your posts will be deleted.

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Imagining Alaska's economy without oil - 3/10/2011 4:54 pm

Nine local women added to ATHENA Society - 3/1/2011 10:02 am

Alaska tribe takes coal mine concerns to UN - 2/25/2011 1:22 pm

Missed deadlines on North Slope gas line - 2/24/2011 4:42 pm

Pat Galvin's new job - 2/24/2011 4:24 pm

Sport groups pressure EPA on Pebble - 2/24/2011 3:27 pm

Study highlights Arctic drilling's economic impact - 2/24/2011 1:46 pm

Muni changing wireless, Internet providers - 2/23/2011 9:06 pm

BP shares jump on report of Shell interest

The Associated Press --

LONDON — Shares in BP have jumped after a report published Tuesday saying Royal Dutch Shell is interested in a merger with the London-based company.

The Daily Mail, citing unidentified people close to the company, reports that Shell considered a takeover bid when shares in BP reached a nadir after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It adds that Netherlands-based Shell is still interested in a merger.

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United Utilities launches Western Alaska broadband effort

From Bill White --

United Utilities Inc., a subsidiary of Anchorage’s GCI Communication Corp., said Marsh Creek LLC will be its prime contractor for 11 microwave communication sites in rural Alaska.

The project, called TERRA-Southwest, is intended to provide microwave and fiber-based broadband service to 65 communities in Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, United Utilities said.

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CIRI plans office space for former Fireweed Theater site

From Bill White --

CIRI Land Development Co. has acquired the site of the former Fireweed Theater in Anchorage.

The company plans to develop the 8.36-acre site into office space, according to CIRI Land’s parent company, Cook Inlet Region Inc.

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CIRI, Weidner partner on Arizona apartments

From Bill White --

Cook Inlet Region Inc. of Anchorage has partnered with Weidner Apartment Homes to buy four Class-A apartment complexes in the Tucson and Phoenix areas, CIRI said.

CIRI is an investor while Weidner is the managing partner.

Weidner is based in Kirkland, Wash., and it owns apartments there, in Anchorage, Arizona, Colorado and central and western Canada.

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Good year for prices of Alaska resources

From Bill White --

The prices of some Alaska resources fared well in 2010 compared with the year before.

Here's the rundown:

Oil -- The current price is about $90 a barrel. During the year, the price averaged about $79 a barrel. That was up 30 percent from the 2009 average of $61.

Zinc -- The most valuable mineral mined in Alaska is priced at year-end at about $1.07 per pound. For the year, the price average was about 98 cents a pound. That was up 27 percent from the 2009 average of 77 cents. Alaska's zinc comes from the big Red Dog mine near Kotzebue.

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Oil, gasoline prices poised to soar?

From Bill White --

Gasoline prices will hit $5 a gallon in 2012, Shell Oil’s former president, John Hofmeister, is predicting.


Because oil prices will be rising, he tells CNN.

"Asian growth is continuing. ... U.S. economic recovery has brought demand back to where it was before. Economic growth means even more demand. But the U.S. Government is prohibiting expansion of U.S. domestic crude oil production which puts upward pressure on global crude oil prices."

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Prices up, sales down in Anchorage housing

From Bill White --

Slightly fewer houses are selling in Anchorage this year, but they’re selling for slightly more than last year, on average.

That’s my takeaway from the latest housing sales numbers from Multiple Listing Service.


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Gasoline prices unusually high for late December

Daily News staff and wire services --

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline topped $3 for the first time at Christmas. The average pump price rose was $3.01 at the end of last week, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That's 14 cents more than a month ago and 43 cents higher than a year ago.

The national average had risen to $3.04 per gallon as of Monday.

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Jo-Ann Stores being taken private for $1.6 billion

Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press --

NEW YORK -- Fabric and craft store chain Jo-Ann Stores Inc. is being taken private by investment firm Leonard Green & Partners LP for about $1.6 billion, the latest in a series of billion-dollar retail buyouts.

The deal is the most recent in a flurry of retail buyouts that have occurred in the past three months. Last month preppy fashion retailer J. Crew Group Inc. agreed to be purchased for $3 billion in a deal that also involves Leonard Green & Partners, along with private equity firm TPG Capital.

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Consultant: Alaska must get behind gas pipeline financially

The Associated Press --

A financial consultant says that public aid in the form of state loan guarantees will be required if developers are going to build a proposed large-diameter natural gas pipeline in Alaska anytime soon.
David Gottstein of Anchorage asked Fairbanks leaders Wednesday to be advocates for a proposal that would see the state guarantee rights of way and loans in exchange for the rights to capacity in the line.

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Crowley to supply all Shell stations with fuel

From Bill White --

Crowley Maritime Corp. said it has a new multiyear agreement with Shell Oil Products US to supply fuel to eight more Shell-branded gas stations in Anchorage and Eagle River.

Now Crowley’s Alaska fuel sales and distribution arm will supply all 17 Shell-branded independently owned gas stations in Alaska, including three that Crowley owns and operates, the company said. Besides Anchorage and Eagle River, Shell stations can be found in Mat-Su and on the Kenai Peninsula, Crowley said.

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GCI board raises stock buyback plan to $200 million

From Bill White --

The board of Anchorage-based telecom company GCI has authorized management to purchase up to another $100 million in its stock on the open market over time.

The board decision this month raises its total buyback authorization to $200 million. Management already has repurchased $76 million of stock previously owned by Arctic Slope Regional Corp., the Barrow-based regional Native corporation, as part of this program.

In addition, the GCI board authorized the buyback ceiling to rise by $5 million per quarter.

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Out-patient surgery center opens on Laurel Street

From Bill White --

Surgery Center of Anchorage has opened as an out-patient surgery center at 4001 Laurel St., Unit A, in Anchorage.

Following an inspection by Medicare, the first surgical procedures were performed Dec. 6, the physician owners said.

The new facility is a joint venture between 19 Anchorage area surgeons and Regent Surgical Health, a national surgery center development and management company.

The new center initially will provide services in gynecology; general surgery; colorectal; ear, nose and throat; pain; gastroenterology; and urology.

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Chugach Electric makes board appointment

Doug Robbins, new director of Chugach ElectricDoug Robbins, new director of Chugach Electric

From Bill White --

The board of Anchorage-based Chugach Electric Association has named Doug Robbins to its board.

He files a vacancy created when Pat Kennedy passed away in October.

Chugach said Robbins is a 54-year-old retired petroleum geologist and manager who worked at Marathon Oil Co. for 26 years.

More from Chugach:

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Fairbanks awards local ideas that bring in dollars

The Associated Press --

FAIRBANKS — The city of Fairbanks has used a portion of its bed tax to award $270,000 to 25 groups that pledged to promote economic development and tourism.

The city took in about $2.4 million in the first 10 months of this year from a borough-wide tax on hotel and motel rooms.

The rest of the money is reserved for city services and projects.

Groups usually get about half of what they request. Awards are determined by the average of the recommendations made by the five members of the awarding committee.

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New offshore energy regulator coming to town

From Elizabeth Bluemink--

James Kendall: BOEMRE photoJames Kendall: BOEMRE photo

The federal agency that regulates offshore energy has appointed James Kendall, a Washington D.C.-based environmental scientist, to run its district office in Anchorage on an interim basis.

John Goll, who has run the district office of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement since 1997, is retiring on Dec. 31. Kendall will take over as interim chief on Jan. 1.

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Anglo American considering DeBeers buyout

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

Various publications are reporting this week that global mining giant Anglo American is considering a majority stake in De Beers, the world's largest diamond company.

Anglo American, which is financing work to develop Pebble, a controversial copper and gold prospect in Southwest Alaska, would need to spend billions to buy out DeBeers's majority owner, South Africa's Oppenheimer family.

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EPA clamps down on gold mines' mercury emissions

From Martin Griffith, The Associated Press --

RENO, Nev. — Conservationists are hailing a new federal rule to cut emissions of the toxic metal mercury from the nation's gold mines, calling it a long overdue measure to protect the health of people and the environment.

The regulations announced Friday will reduce airborne mercury pollution from the mines to about 1,200 pounds a year, a 77 percent reduction from 2007 levels, said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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WikiLeaks cables reveal BP Azerbaijan gas leak

From Jane Wardell, The Associated Press --

LONDON — Leaked U.S. embassy cables have revealed that oil company BP was "fortunate" to have evacuated workers from a platform in Azerbaijan after a gas leak similar to the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The cables published by The Guardian newspaper on Thursday also reported that Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev accused the London-based company of stealing billions of dollars of oil from his country and using "mild blackmail" to secure the rights to develop gas reserves in the Caspian Sea.

read more »

Fraud, self-dealing alleged in Southeast Native corporation

From Bill White --

Pro Publica, an investigative journalism organization, has taken a harsh look at Cape Fox Corp.'s experience with the federal 8(a) contracting program.

The article's summary:

Cape Fox Corporation was prey to some of the worst abuses in a system that gives Alaska Native Corporations access to no-bid government contracts of unlimited size. As federal contracting grew, benefits went to non-native consultants instead of providing jobs, dividends to natives.

read more »

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