Gov. Frank H. Murkowski said Dec. 3 that he will ask the Alaska Legislature for $20 million to begin preliminary engineering for new and improved roads designed to enhance oil, gas and mining resource extraction opportunities on the North Slope and near Red Dog Mine in Northwest Alaska.
Reiterating his commitment to create new jobs by building a sound economy in Alaska, the governor cited his ongoing “roads to resources” program as a key part of his energy agenda for 2005. Murkowski said his administration plans to begin engineering work on the 75-mile Foothills West Road, which will run from the Dalton Highway at the trans-Alaska oil pipeline’s pump station 2 west toward the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, build a 50- to 60-mile road from Prudhoe Bay east to the gas-rich Point Thomson field, and resurface bad stretches of the Dalton Highway.
In addition, he plans to complete the DeLong Mountain Port Expansion to better serve the Red Dog Mine.
Other provisions of the governor’s energy agenda include later this month launching an extended winter oil and gas exploration season during which operators will use new technology to prevent significant environmental damage to the tundra.
Murkowski also plans to introduce legislation to expand Senate Bill 185, approved in 2003, to expand severance tax credit provisions for oil and gas exploration to the Alaska Peninsula competitive oil and gas areawide lease sale.
Under the original bill, companies were able to deduct exploration expenses from future production taxes paid to the state. The companies had to incur those expenses between July 1, 2003 and July 1, 2007.
The Department of Natural Resources does not expect to hold a Bristol Bay lease sale before the fall of 2005. As a result, it is unlikely that companies would be able to post Bristol Bay exploration costs in time to receive the credit.
Murkowski also said he would ask state lawmakers for $30 million to pay for ongoing work on a North Slope gas pipeline under the Alaska Stranded Gas Act, including gas line analysis and the state acquiring additional expertise in natural gas pipeline development.
“We mean business about access for Alaskans,” he told reporters and others who attended a news conference at the union hall of International Laborers Local 342 in Anchorage.
Murkowski invited labor leaders from a half-dozen unions to participate in the news conference and commended them for training qualified workers in Alaska.
Unlike what happened during the 1970s when Alaska was ill-equipped to train its labor force and workers flooded into the state from other places, he said the state, with the help of labor unions, is now capable of training its workers to fill jobs that resource development will create in the state.