Morning Headlamp — Sullivan, Murkowski and Trump – oh my!
Paul Basinski, the geologist who helped discover the Eagle Ford basin in Texas, is part of a fledgling effort on Alaska’s North Slope to emulate the shale boom that reinvigorated production in the rest of the U.S. His venture, Project Icewine, has gained rights to 700,000 acres inside the Arctic Circle and says they could hold 3.6 billion barrels of oil, rivaling the legendary Eagle Ford. The dwindling volume of crude produced in the state has combined with a rout in oil prices over the last two years to undercut Alaska’s once-booming economy. When oil topped $100 a barrel in 2014, Alaska took in $5.7 billion in petroleum taxes and royalties for the fiscal year that ended that June, covering most of its budget. For fiscal 2017, the take is projected at $1.6 billion, a 72 percent drop.
“The oil is there,” said Basinski, founder and chief executive officer at Houston-based Burgundy Xploration LLC, in an interview. “Now it’s a question of how quickly we can get it to flow and whether we can get the economics to work." One exploratory well has been drilled, he said, and a second is planned by mid year.
Headlamp hopes legislators understand that more oil in the pipeline is a big part of the solution to the state’s fiscal issues. That means crafting or maintaining tax policy that encourages investment so that more Project Icewine’s occur.
Armed with info. Alaska's senior senator, Lisa Murkowski, brought her maps with her to a meeting in the Oval Office on Wednesday. Sen. Dan Sullivan brought the numbers. Murkowski brought a map that showed Alaska overlaying the Lower 48, demonstrating the state's formidable size. Another showed Alaska's limited road system. Another detailed oil and gas production on the North Slope. And she brought a map that showed the area and diversity of federal land management operators across the state. "I think he's just a very visual person," Murkowski said of Trump. "And it really allowed…for a wide-ranging conversation."
Murkowski didn't really elaborate on this part of the discussion, but Sullivan did mention discussion of building a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge for residents of King Cove to access the airport in Cold Bay for emergencies. Sullivan said he pitched his legislation to divide up the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Finally, the senators raised the possibilities for growing Arctic infrastructure, including building out telecommunications, adding a deep-water port and advancing icebreaker capacity, Murkowski said.
Headlamp applauds Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan for advocating for an “Alaska first” agenda.
Alaska Public Radio News, Elizabeth Harball, March 8, 2017
Bloomberg, Alex Nussbaum, March 9, 2017
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, March 8, 2017
Fairbanks Daily News Miner, Matt Buxton, March 9, 2017
KTOO, Rashah McChesney, March 8, 2017
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