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Vol. 16, No. 22 Week of May 29, 2011
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Sullivan names DNR team

Bill Barron at DO&G, Brent Goodrum at DML&W, Kurt Gibson as AGIA

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan has filled three positions at DNR, calling a strong leadership team critical in implementing the governor’s vision of increased throughput in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

He introduced the new members of the DNR team at an Alaska Support Industry Alliance meeting in Anchorage May 26.

Bill Barron, formerly of Marathon and most recently of CH2M Hill, is the new director of the Division of Oil and Gas; Brent Goodrum, a retired Marine Corps infantry officer, is the new director of the Division of Mining, Land and Water; and Kurt Gibson, formerly deputy director of the Division of Oil and Gas, is the new Alaska Gasline Inducement Act coordinator.

Sullivan said implementation of the governor’s plan to increase throughput on the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to 1 million barrels per day within 10 years required an “all hands on deck effort” and said those he has named bring new leadership to the effort.

Sullivan called the 1 million bpd goal “ambitious” and “audacious.”

“It’s a vision,” he told the Alliance audience.

Alaska has the hydrocarbons, Sullivan said, and is relatively underexplored compared to most basins, with only 500 exploration wells on the North Slope — an area comparable to the state of Wyoming, which has 19,000 exploration wells.

It will take a comprehensive strategy to get there, he said, including: enhancing the state’s global competitiveness; improving the permitting process (see story in this issue); facilitating and incentivizing the next phases of North Slope development; unlocking the state’s full resource potential; and promoting Alaska’s resources and positive investment climate to world markets.

Sullivan said the governor’s tax reform is the cornerstone of enhancing the state’s global competitiveness.

Immediate improvements in handling incoming land and water use applications are necessary, along with reducing permitting costs by streamlining the permitting process, he said.

Next phase of development

The next phase of North Slope oil development — outer continental shelf resources, onshore federal resources, unconventional resources, smaller pools of conventional oil and commercialization of North Slope gas — needs to be facilitated and incentivized, Sullivan said.

And constructive partnerships need to be established to unlock Alaska’s resource potential. Sullivan said the state is redoubling its efforts to work with the federal government. During the first two years the Obama administration seemed focused on shutting down resource development in Alaska, he said, but there are signs that that is changing. Some of it may be rhetoric, and the state will want to see evidence, but the state’s goal is to cooperate, he said.

Sullivan also said that promoting Alaska’s resources is important because while Alaskans are aware of the state’s resource base, not everyone is. On a recent trip to Houston he met with leaders of companies operating in the state, but also met with companies that don’t operate here. Those companies seemed puzzled that Alaska’s commissioner of Natural Resources should be calling on them when they don’t operate in the state, but Sullivan said he was there to tell them why they should operate in the state.

He said the reception he got in Houston was very positive.

Barron at DO&G

Sullivan said Bill Barron, a petroleum engineer with more than 35 years experience in oil and gas, the new director of the Division of Oil and Gas, will be a key player in DNR’s strategy to achieve increased throughput. Barron has more than 20 years of experience working in Alaska’s oil and gas fields, most recently with CH2M Hill, where he managed North Slope, Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet operations and maintenance. In the past two years, Barron has managed CH2M Hill’s Canada and Lower 48 operations.

He previously worked for Marathon Oil in Alaska, the Lower 48 and overseas.

Barron replaces Kevin Banks, an economist. Deputy DNR Commissioner Joe Balash said Banks is staying with the division in the commercial section.

Barron starts June 1.

Goodrum at ML&W

Brent Goodrum, the retired Marine Corps infantry officer, who started work May 26 as director of the Division of Mining, Land and Water, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and has a Master of Science in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Sullivan said while Goodrum has no experience in resource development, he stood out as an exceptional candidate for the job due to his track record of leading complex organizations and making them operate more efficiently. He said Goodrum will have a key role in managing the division’s efforts to reform its permitting process and address the permit process.

Gibson at AGIA

Kurt Gibson, as AGIA coordinator, will oversee state regulatory activities involving a large-diameter North Slope natural gas pipeline. Gibson, currently deputy director of the Division of Oil and Gas, has led the commercial branch of the AGIA team for the past four years. He also provided key guidance on major negotiations between the state and oil industry players, such as the Point Thomson litigation.

Gibson previously worked in the Lower 48 as a natural gas trader and engineer specializing in natural gas pipeline projects.

Gibson starts as AGIA coordinator on June 1.

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