November 14, 2003 --- Vol. 9, No. 108November 2003

Compromise energy bill excludes ANWR, wants gas line to Chicago

U.S. House and Senate Republicans reached agreement today on a national energy bill, clearing the way for final action next week.

Although Republicans provided few details in a news conference they did say the compromise bill does not include heavy oil tax credits, a proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, or federal tax credits for a North Slope gas pipeline to protect producers from the risk of low natural gas prices.

But the bill does include accelerated depreciation for the North Slope gas line project, regulatory streamlining, tax credits for the gas treatment plant at Prudhoe Bay and a federal loan guarantee for the project.

However, the gas line incentives are for a line from Alaska to Chicago, not ending in Alberta, which news reports say will increase the cost of the loan guarantee from $13 billion to $20 billion.

Bush signs law removing Congressional restrictions on Bristol Bay

President George W. Bush signed legislation earlier this week that removed the U.S. Congress’s objections to oil and gas drilling in the federal waters of Alaska's Bristol Bay. However, the Bush administration’s moratorium on Bristol Bay leasing is still in effect.

Congress has included language in the Department of Interior appropriations bill since the early 1980s that prevents the department from conducting leasing in areas under federal moratorium. The Bristol Bay language was excluded this year in the $20.2 billion appropriations bill which funds Interior for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

“At the request of the Bristol Bay Native Corp., Sen. Stevens did not include that moratorium this year,” Melanie Alvord, press secretary for U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, told Petroleum News July 17.

The Minerals Management Service handles leasing on the outer continental shelf.

MMS Alaska Region Director John Goll told Petroleum News today that there has been no word from the Bush administration about lifting the presidential moratorium. But if the state of Alaska wants it lifted, the state “would have to ask us to petition the president to lift the moratorium,” Goll said.

He said MMS “would work with any state that wants to lift drilling moratoriums.”

Polar Discovery on its way to Valdez

ConocoPhillips Alaska’s newest double-hulled tanker, Polar Discovery, is on its way to Alaska.

The ship is due in Valdez within the week to take on its first load of Alaska North Slope crude oil, ConocoPhillips Alaska spokeswoman Dawn Patience told Petroleum News Nov. 14.

Polar Tankers, the ConocoPhillips subsidiary which operates the company’s tanker fleet, took delivery of the Discovery in early September. It joins two new tankers already in service; two more are on order.

Editor’s note: See Nov. 23 edition of Petroleum News for more details on the above news briefs.

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