November 19, 2003 --- Vol. 9, No. 111November 2003

Pioneer opening permanent Anchorage office

Pioneer Natural Resources said today that it intends to open a permanent office in Anchorage by the middle of next year.

“With the ongoing commercialization studies related to our successful drilling program at Northwest Kuparuk last winter and our recent success at the Oct. 29, 2003, state of Alaska lease sale, Pioneer’s Alaskan portfolio is now sufficient to justify a dedicated Alaska team in Anchorage,” Chris Cheatwood, Pioneer Natural Resources executive vice president, said in a statement.

Pioneer said the Anchorage office would have approximately 12 employees, about half of them transfers from other Pioneer locations. The company said that while it will relocate some existing Pioneer employees to Alaska, it also “intends to look for individuals will local experience and will be looking to fill some positions from within the state.”

The company said that Ken Sheffield, president of Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska, will relinquish his additional current responsibilities for Pioneer’s operations in Canada to focus on the company’s growing business within Alaska.

“My family and I look forward to living in Alaska,” Sheffield said. “I am also excited about the opportunity for Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska to become an important oil and gas producer in the state.”

Sheffield will be addressing the Resource Development Council tomorrow morning as part of an energy panel.

MMS offers economic incentives for Cook Inlet leases

The Minerals Management Service is holding a Cook Inlet lease sale May 19, and for the first time in Cook Inlet, is offering economic incentives.

MMS said Nov. 19 that it is proposing to hold a Cook Inlet lease sale “that may provide needed natural gas for Southcentral Alaska.” The agency said its proposed notice of sale for Cook Inlet OCS lease sale 191, tentatively scheduled for May 19, excludes a narrow band of blocks offshore the lower Kenai Peninsula and the Barren Islands. The agency said the areas are a critical habitat for the endangered Stellar sea lion and are also used by residents of Port Graham, Nanwalek and Seldovia, and others, for subsistence.

MMS said this is the first time it has offered economic incentives for leasing in federal waters in Cook Inlet: a longer primary term of eight years; lower minimum bid ($25 per hectare) and annual rental rates ($5 per hectare) and royalty suspension volumes, which would relieve royalty payments on a producing lease up to the first 30 million barrels of oil equivalent, applied to both oil and natural gas, with price floor and ceiling thresholds.

The sale area is in federal waters in Alaska’s Cook Inlet between three and 30 nautical miles offshore and covers some 2 million acres from just south of Kalgin Island to just northwest of Shuyak Island.

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