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

Alaska companies get broadband, locomotive grants

From Bill White --

The Alaska congressional delegation recently announced the following federal grants and contracts have been awarded:

• $10.75 million loan to Cordova Telephone Cooperative Inc. to improve broadband service to rural residents and businesses.

• $1.035 million to the state-owned Alaska Railroad Corp. for locomotive upgrades to reduce emissions.

read more »

Gulf oil spill could usher in new safety agency

Dina Cappiello, The Associated Press --

WASHINGTON - The presidential panel investigating the massive Gulf oil spill will likely recommend to President Barack Obama next year new ways for both the federal government and the oil industry to oversee offshore drilling safety.

Experts with the presidential oil spill commission on Thursday recommended that oil and gas companies drilling off the U.S. coast set up a safety institute similar to the one the nuclear industry formed after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. The institute would address lapses that led to the Gulf spill.

read more »

Eni ready to start oil production from Nikaitchuq

From Bill White --

The latest issue of Petroleum News says Italian oil giant Eni Petroleum plans to start up its Nikaitchuq field off the North Slope coast this month or next.

The new oil field will feature the first North Slope processing facilities built by a company other than BP or Conoco Phillips, which between them run almost all the other North Slope fields.

Eni plans 52 wells, 26 of them for producing oil, 21 for water injection to help produce oil, three water-source wells and two disposal wells. Of these, it plans 22 onshore wells and 30 offshore from a man-made island.

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Two high-ranking deputies named at state DNR

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

The Parnell administration has appointed two longtime state employees, Joe Balash and Ed Fogels, as deputy commissioners for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

Balash will replace former deputy commissioner Marty Rutherford, who resigned following the Nov. 2 general election. He will be working on oil and gas issues under DNR's incoming commissioner, Dan Sullivan. Sullivan, leaving his post as the state attorney general, will take charge of DNR on Monday.

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AIDEA provides money for office refinancing, 4th Avenue Theater fixes

From Bill White --

A state business-lending agency has agreed to lend $20 million as part of 3000 C Street LLC’s refinancing of its office building at 3000 C St. in Anchorage, the agency said.

The refinancing loan was brought to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority by Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, which is providing $4 million for the refinancing.

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BP suspends work on Liberty oil project

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

BP announced Tuesday it is suspending work on the most critical piece of its $1.5 billion Liberty oil field development in the Beaufort Sea — a massive drilling rig.

BP said it needs to begin a broad engineering review of the rig to address a number of problems that have arisen during the rig’s construction on a man-made island.

“We’ve gotten to the point that we need to step back, take a time out and make sure that all of these systems, including some critical safety systems, are just like they need to be,” said BP spokesman Steve Rinehart.

read more »

Alaska tourism industry courts Aussies, Kiwis

From Elizabeth Bluemink--

The Alaska Travel Industry Association says increased trans-Pacific flights and attractive currency rates could help bring more tourists from Australia and New Zealand to Alaska next summer.

In October, the trade group held tourism workshops for tour wholesalers, travel agents and journalists in Australia and New Zealand to try to capture interest. That's not a new thing: ATIA or state tourism officials have been offering these Down Under workshops for nearly a decade.

read more »

Pebble dialog begins this week

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

To provide context for the contentious Pebble mine debate, the Keystone Center, a Colorado-based non-profit, is hosting an all-day panel presentation about large-scale mining around the world on Friday.

read more »

Parnell endorses Susitna hydro project

From Elizabeth Bluemink--

Gov. Sean Parnell and the Alaska Energy Authority announced today that they are endorsing development of a large hydroelectric project on the Susitna River.

The Susitna project would require building a 700-foot-high dam on the river at Watana, a roadless spot about halfway between Fairbanks and Anchorage. Building the dam would create a 39-mile-long lake reservoir with a maximum width of two miles, according to the authority.

read more »

New Alaska seafood restaurant at Anchorage airport

Norton Sound Seafood House: Photo courtesy HMSHostNorton Sound Seafood House: Photo courtesy HMSHost

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

A restaurant showcasing Northwest Alaska-caught seafood opened in October at the Anchorage International Airport.

Airport food-service company HMSHost teamed with Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., a community development quota non-profit that represents 15 Norton Sound communities, to develop the Norton Sound Seafood House.

read more »

Buccaneer shares its drilling plans for Cook Inlet

From Elizabeth Bluemink

Earlier today, while working on a story about Buccaneer Energy's plans to bring an offshore exploration rig to Cook Inlet (it would be the first rig in 15 years) I had an e-mail exchange with the company's Dean Gallegos, who is based in Sydney, Australia.

Here's a slightly-edited transcript:

Me: How would you rate the likelihood that you can get a rig to Alaska by next year?

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Alaska journalist sees potential for BP asset sale to Russian oil producer

Note: This story is republished on the blog with permission from Petroleum News. To read the original, subscriber-only version, click here.

From Kay Cashman, at Petroleum News --

Is BP selling its oil and gas assets in Alaska? That’s the billion dollar question.

read more »

Oil/gas explorer plans new wells in Cook Inlet

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

Australia-based Buccaneer Energy wants to be the first company in years to bring an exploration rig to Cook Inlet waters.

The company said this week it plans to bring a jack-up rig to Alaska and it has told state officials this could happen as soon as the middle of next year.

Buccaneer said it will partially finance the acquisition and transport of the rig to Alaska using $60 million in federal income tax-free bonds approved this week by the Alaskan Industrial Development and Export Authority.

read more »

Newbie Alaska miners on the Discovery Channel

From Elizabeth Bluemink:

An executive from Anglo American, the company with a major stake in the contentious copper and gold Pebble prospect, gave a speech at a Resource Development Council of Alaska meeting today. He mentioned that miners could make the next reality TV show.

This might not be what he had in mind, but ...

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McCaskill files 8(a) legislation

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

Some of Alaska's biggest companies -- its Native corporations -- are the target of federal legislation filed today.

U.S. Sen. Clair McCaskill, D-Missouri, introduced her legislation to eliminate provisions that give contracting advantages to Alaska Native corporations and villages under the federal Small Business Act. Her bill also would revise relevant portions of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

read more »

McCaskill poised to file Native contracting bill

Note: It remains unclear whether the bill would strip Native Hawaiian firms and Native American tribes of the same contracting advantages.

From the Associated Press --

By RACHEL D'ORO

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill plans to introduce legislation this week that would eliminate the advantage tapped by Alaska Native corporations in obtaining federal contracts worth billions of dollars.

A spokeswoman for the Missouri Democrat says the bill will be filed Wednesday or Thursday.

read more »

Ex-regulator takes top job at Alyeska

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

Thomas BarrettThomas Barrett

A top former federal pipeline regulator has been selected as the new president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.

The decision was announced Tuesday during a meeting of the trans-Alaska pipeline’s owners committee, made up of BP, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips and other companies with a stake in the North Slope oil fields.

read more »

ANCSA panel discussion on Tuesday night

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

A volunteer organization created to commemorate the upcoming 40th anniversary of the federal legislation that created Native corporations -- the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 -- is hosting a panel discussion at the Loussac Library on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The panelists will discuss the role of Howard Rock and the Tundra Times newspaper in disseminating information about Native land claims and building consensus within the land claims movement.

read more »

State reports rise in fish harvesting jobs

From Elizabeth Bluemink --

Alaska’s commercial fishing job sector grew by 2.7 percent last year and additional job growth is expected this year due to bigger salmon and groundfish harvests, according to a new analysis from the Alaska Department of Labor.

Nearly 800 people bought new commercial fishing permits or crew licenses in 2009, while 159 fishermen left the business, according to the analysis, published in the November issue of the department’s Alaska Economic Trends magazine. Final data was not yet available for this year.

read more »

NANA pays $20 million in dividends

From Bill White --

NANA Regional Corp. has distributed a $14-per-share dividend to its more than 12,000 shareholders, the Kotzebue-based regional Native corporation said.

A typical shareholder with 100 shares got $1,400.

The total distribution was about $20 million.

“The cost of living in our region is high and the cost of heating fuel continues to climb,” said Donald Sheldon, board chairman. “We hope that these distributions help ease some of the financial burdens that our shareholders feel in this current economic climate.”

read more »

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