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Category — Alaska

Repsol, Burned in Argentina, Comes to Alaska (but will the state’s tax reform survive referendum?)

Would you rather invest your money in a safe or an unsafe place? Spanish oil and gas company Repsol, the 15th largest hydrocarbon entity in the world, has answered that question by shifting its attention from Argentina to Alaska and other areas inside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


In 1998 Repsol paid $13 billion for nearly 60% of YPF, the Argentine oil company.  In 2010, Repsol discovered a significant oil shale play in an area called Vaca Muerta. All seemed well for the investor and for locals for greater economic activity and more energy.

But in 2011, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner nationalized 51 percent of YPF, leaving Repsol with 6.4 percent ownership . Repsol wants $10.5 billion in compensation; Argentina’s most recent offer is $1.5 billion. There is a chance that Repsol could get less or nothing.

Production has declined with the fight, eight percent in 2012 alone. The EU, UK, Mexico, Chile and Colombia have condemned Argentina’s action, as has the U.S. State Department.

Senate Bill 21: Alaska Oil Open for Business

In 2011, Repsol acquired a large lease position in Alaska given the rich prospecting and the upside of positive tax reform in the state. The latter occurred in mid-2013 with the passage of Senate Bill 21, the More Alaskan Production Act, signed into law by Governor Sean Parnell.

The pro-reform, pro-production bill, while an improvement over the prior regime, is still complicated. The new law: [Read more →]

October 25, 2013   No Comments

Offshore Alaska Drilling: Private Effort versus Regulatory Constraints

Royal Dutch Shell has spent billions of dollars over six years preparing to drill for new oil in Alaska. The hidden treasure is an estimated 20–25 billion barrels of oil beneath the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Not surprisingly, drilling for oil in Alaska is complicated and expensive (See map of proposed offshore exploration and drilling in Alaska). Part of the complexity is the distant Arctic location and short summer exploration and drilling window, and part is caused by drifty U.S. federal regulations.

Oil exploration and production is never easy (as in “the ‘easy oil’ has been found”), and new frontiers, technological and geographical, are always the challenge. And in this case, federal regulation from an anti-oil administration is at work.

Shell’s Coming Restart

on Shell’s suspended Arctic drilling operations for 2013, the company hasn’t given up. Shell just needs time to repair its ships. U.S. government agencies will continue review and regulation while Shell ships are repaired. As reported in the New York Times: “The Interior Department, the Coast Guard and the Justice Department are reviewing Shell’s operations, which have included groundings, environmental and safety violations, weather delays, the collapse of its spill-containment equipment and other failures.”

The NYT article also reports: [

July 17, 2013   1 Comment

‘Let’s Go’ … Game On for Shell in the Arctic (a milestone in the still maturing hydrocarbon energy era)

“I can’t downplay this. It’s obviously very exciting for us…. This is opening up a new chapter in Alaska’s oil and gas history that is literally starting today.”

- Pete Slaiby, Shell Alaska. Quoted in Jennifer A. Dlouhy,Shell Begins Drilling Well off Alaska,”  San Francisco Chronicle, September 9, 2012.

Profit-seeking, consumer-directed business is proper, necessary, and heroic. Free-market-based energy enterprises (oil, gas, and coal) are quite unlike government-dependent (crony) businesses (ethanol, windpower, and on-grid solar). Ken Lay’s Enron is (was) a leading example of the latter; Koch Industries’ Charles Koch, writing in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, epitomizes the former.

Shell has scaled back its (scarcely profitable) renewable energy investments and is back to its oil and gas roots. Its advertising is no longer about pie-in-the-sky energies and more about here, now energy. LET’S GO! The company found out the hard way that self-styled environmentalists are really anti-industrial and obstructionist when it comes to producing the energy needed by world consumers.

The expense and delay of Shell’s ambitious plans to drill offshore Alaska have been huge. But that chapter is largely over. It is GAME ON for Arctic drilling. LET’S GO!

[Weak] Opposition

The argument against drilling is hypothetical and borders on postmodernism. Stated Greenpeace: [Read more →]

September 11, 2012   4 Comments

Alaska Energy: The Battle Continues (but we cannot grow weary)

It is indisputable that for the last two-and-a-half years the Federal government has undertaken a campaign of economic sabotage against Alaska.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is 2/3 empty and declining at a 6% annual rate while billions of barrels of oil lie untapped on federal lands nearby, causing America to import hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil while exporting tens of thousands of American jobs to foreign jurisdictions.

The Obama Administration will have killed Alaska’s economy and set back America’s economic recovery if TAPS ceases operation for lack of readily available but off-limits federal oil.

Normal Americans throughout Alaska and the entire country have responded again and again to repeated salvos of regulatory ordinance calculated to descimate Alaska’s if not the entire country’s economy. It appears to be a conscious attempt to bring chaos, unemployment and poverty to a great nation and the state with resources that could be resurrecting the entire U.S. economy.

The attacks are well coordinated offenses led by federal agencies, accompanied by the happy warriors of the extreme environmental and social left. Every week or two we hear of a new ‘opportunity to comment’ on a new initiative that could pound another nail into the chest of a gasping economy. We have “commented” so many times that our fellow citizens are now saying, “Geeze, I don’t have time to do this every week; they’re wearing me down.”

For over two years we have exposed this ‘death by a thousand cuts’ to America’s economy, the cumulative effect on a great nation of continuous barrages of regulatory schrapnel that are descimating natural resource industries and hundreds of thousands of current and potential jobs: delaying and outright blocking projects. The delays and blocking of projects often violate established ‘due process’ causing ‘harmed’ states or companies to sue for relief — years away and too late if it comes at all.  Alaska’s Governor Sean Parnell has sued the federal government for overreaching its authority.

Examples of the federal onslaught include:

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July 11, 2011   5 Comments

Sarah Palin's Alaska Energy Plan: Please Forget It

[Editor note: This April 27th post is reprinted with slight modifications in light of the current newsworthiness of Alaska's soon-to-be-ex-governor, Sarah Palin]

Last month, our friends over at the Heartland Institute published a front-page lead story in the April, 2009 edition of Environment & Climate News. Alyssia Carducci’s “Palin Energy Plan Receives High Praise” begins:

“Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has announced an ambitious plan to produce half of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Palin’s plan, which empowers local municipalities to identify and develop the most cost-efficient renewable power sources available to them, won immediate praise from environmental groups, consumer groups, and industry.”

This article is yet more evidence that the inexplicable conservative love affair with Sarah Palin remains unrequited—at least, when it comes to economic policy in general and energy policy in particular. But Republicans, as the kids might say, “She’s just not that into you.” Let’s examine the litany of problems with Plain’s approach to energy. [Read more →]

July 6, 2009   2 Comments