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Begich Brings Oil and Gas Industry’s Top Spokesperson to Alaska

Begich and Gerard Focus on Cook Inlet Oil and Gas Development

One of the nation’s top oil and gas advocates got a first-hand look Tuesday at one of Alaska’s most promising oil and gas development areas, courtesy of U.S. Senator Mark Begich, who invited American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard to Alaska this week. The two visited an off-shore oil rig, toured the Kenai’s gas export facility and spoke to community leaders on the Kenai Peninsula as Begich pushes the federal government for increased Alaska oil and gas development.

“Things are looking up, way up, in the birthplace of Alaska’s oil and gas industry, the Kenai Peninsula,” said Begich. “Jack and I work a lot together on federal oil and gas issues, so it is a pleasure to help bring him to Alaska. Today he got a firsthand look at how we do things here in Alaska and on the Kenai.”

Begich and Gerard toured Hilcorp’s Steelhead platform in Cook Inlet early Tuesday morning, and later Mr. Gerard addressed the Kenai Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and toured ConocoPhillips LNG plant in Nikiski, the country’s sole LNG export facility for the past four decades.

“Jack has been a great partner for me in Washington, DC and for Alaska’s oil and gas industry,” said Begich. “Having the country’s foremost industry spokesperson better armed with information about the world class resources in Alaska and our highly capable work force can only pay dividends down the road.”

With higher world oil prices and growing Asian demand for liquefied natural gas, a number of independent oil and gas companies have invested heavily in older oil and gas reservoirs and in finding new ones in both Cook Inlet and on the Kenai Peninsula.

Begich was proud to show Gerard the progress he has made both in Cook Inlet and in Nikiski when it comes to fighting the Obama administration on removing barriers to oil and gas production in Alaska. As Chairman of the Senate Oceans Subcommittee, Begich was a leading voice in pressing NOAA to speed up the permitting process for seismic testing in Cook Inlet. And it was at Begich’s urging that the Department of Energy (DOE) approved the final export permits in April required to put the Nikiski plant back in business.

“Over the past two years, we’ve gone from a looming natural gas shortage for Southcentral Alaska to all utilities having gas under contract for the next five years,” said Begich. “The ConocoPhillips LNG plant in Nikiski is exporting again and Agrium and others are looking at ways to export natural gas and create good-paying jobs for Alaskans.”

The Steelhead platform, constructed for Chevron 25 years ago and standing about 6 miles offshore, is emblematic of new activity in the area.  Fitted out with new and more efficient equipment, the platform produces both oil and gas.  Begich and Gerard toured the platform early today and spoke with Hilcorp Energy Company officials about the opportunities and challenges in the oil and gas industry across Alaska.

Other important recent entrants to the Cook Inlet basin include Apache, NordAq, Cook Inlet Energy, Buccaneer and Furie.

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