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Vol. 28, No.38 Week of September 17, 2023
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Oil patch insider: Alaska makes headlines: ANWR, NPR-A, reviving in-state gasline

Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

Beginning Sept. 6 with the U.S. Department of the Interior's decision to cancel oil and gas leases in the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and its proposal to remove 13 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska from oil and gas leasing and development, Alaska made national and international headlines.

Two Alaskans made it on Fox & Friends First on Sept. 8 -- Randy Ruaro, executive director of the Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority, or AIDEA, and Nagruk Harcharek, president of the Voice of Arctic I- upiat.

Host Carley Shimkus noted that Interior's announcement said "this will help preserve our Arctic lands and wildlife, while honoring the culture and history and enduring wisdom of Alaska Natives who have lived in these lands since time immemorial."

She asked Harcharek for his response to that statement.

"We have lived here since time immemorial. Over the last 50 years we have been co-existing with resource development. We have adapted to this new style of economy. It has enhanced our subsistence way of life but it also requires an economy and jobs and things to be able to support your family. To be able to buy ATVs, snowmobiles, boats and such that are required nowadays to subsist. - So moving forward, in order to protect our culture, to protect our people, we need access to these resources, to these jobs, to this economy to really protect our cultural future," Harcharek replied.

Later he pointed out that pulling the 13 million acres "shrinks our economic potential. The North Slope Borough, which provides for all eight communities on the North Slope -- for water and sewer, schools and education" relies on the taxes it gets from infrastructure development and without the potential to develop oil and gas resources from the land, Interior is limiting "what the borough is able to generate revenue from."

"Randy, Saudi Arabia and Russia just announced that they are going to be cutting oil production for the rest of the year; a million barrels a day, so what does this decision by the Biden administration do to energy independence?" Shimkus asked.

"It's just another action in a long series of actions that hurt our national energy economy and policy and weakens America and Alaska. - It gives more control over supply to our enemies," Ruaro replied.

He later added: "My thought is that he actually made this decision years ago as a candidate - stating that he would never allow drilling or development in ANWR. And we believe what he has done now is simply fulfill a campaign pledge, which is not a valid basis for agency action. So we'll be challenging this in court."

Enstar wants crack at in-state gas line

Nathaniel Herz, Northern Journal, broke a well-researched story Sept. 12 that garnered a lot of attention in Alaska.

"For the past several years, Alaska's elected leaders have largely set aside a proposed natural gas pipeline that would connect the state's huge North Slope oil fields solely with urban homeowners. Now, the for-profit utility that sells natural gas in Anchorage and the surrounding area is pushing to resurrect the version of the project that's only for in-state use. It says the project could be a solution to the state's impending natural gas supply shortfall -- even as its own top executive acknowledges that the pipeline requires a long-shot, multibillion-dollar state subsidy," Herz wrote.

Enstar Natural Gas recently asked for permission to take over the proposal for a strictly in-state gas line from the North Slope from Alaska Gasline Development Corp., a state agency, which continues to prioritize an export Alaska LNG project aimed at Asian markets. The latest cost for that line is $43 billion and, according to Herz's research, that project is facing skepticism from Asian buyers.

"Enstar, in its recent request, said that it should be allowed to pursue the smaller scale project in case Alaska LNG fails. In public opinion polling, Enstar said, Alaskans strongly prefer a pipeline to another leading alternative to address the looming shortfall: importing LNG from outside the state," Herz wrote.

Herz's article, titled "Amid natural gas crunch, an Alaska utility asks to resurrect in-state gas pipeline," is easy to find as a number of local and online media sources published it, including Alaska Public Media,, Alaska Beacon and the Anchorage Daily News via Yahoo News.

--Oil Patch Insider is compiled by Kay Cashman

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