Elizabeth Earl

Despite downturn, Hilcorp still buys

As other oil and gas companies seek to trim expenses with layoffs and stalling development, Hilcorp Alaska has no plans to stop acquisitions.

The company will continue to buy properties in Alaska, said Chad Helgeson, the Kenai area operations manager, in an update to the public at the annual Industry Outlook Forum in Kenai on Jan. 28.

“Hilcorp is a growth company, acquisition-based,” Helgeson said. “That’s been our model.”

Ruffner reappointed to fish board

Groundhog Day came Monday evening for Robert Ruffner.

The Soldotna conservationist got a call from Gov. Bill Walker Monday night asking if he would accept a nomination to the state Board of Fisheries again, nearly a year after his first confirmation narrowly failed to pass the Legislature.

Ruffner said the call came as a surprise. After a talk with his wife, he decided he was up for another round.

Miller Energy, SEC settle for $5 million

The U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission has reached a settlement for a $5 million payment with Miller Energy Resources after the company inflated the value of its assets.

The settlement, reached Jan. 12, will conclude the SEC’s investigation into the oil and gas company, the parent company of Cook Inlet Energy.

The SEC charged the company, two former executives and one of its former accountants with fraudulently inflating the values of the company’s Alaska oil and gas properties by more than $400 million.

Beluga concerns arise for Cook Inlet oil leasing

With the annual lease sale approaching and the Alaska LNG Project proposed to enter Cook Inlet, some groups are asking what oil and gas development may do to beluga whale habitat in the inlet.

The Cook Inlet belugas, about 340 individuals as of 2014, migrate through upper Cook Inlet and cross through multiple oil and gas lease areas. Although conservation efforts are ongoing, the numbers decreased by about 1.6 percent annually between 1999 and 2012. A 2014 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration survey recorded a slight increase since then.

Cook Inlet might have more oil

Cook Inlet may have more oil and gas to give, but developing it could present a challenge.

Though there is active development on oil fields in the northern Cook Inlet and one producer in the Cosmopolitan field near Anchor Point, there may be resources that are going unexplored in other parts of the inlet, particularly along the west side.

There is likely more oil deeper below the rock layers that are currently being drilled in Upper Cook Inlet.

Borough debates changes to local option zone code

Forming a local option zone may soon be easier for residents who want more control over what businesses can move into their neighborhoods.

Local option zones are areas in which the majority of residents have control over what businesses can be established there. The code was last revised about 15 years ago. Since then, six of the areas have been formed. There are currently 14 total local option zones within the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Borough’s Marijuana Task Force debating additional restrictions

With less than two months before the state will accept marijuana business applications, the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Marijuana Task Force is still debating whether to set additional restrictions.

The task force has not yet reached a set of recommendations for the borough assembly. Several members supported sticking to the state regulations without any additional rules specific to the borough, but the task force ultimately voted down member Dollynda Phelps’ proposal to adopt the state regulations with no addition.

Micciche: Solutions that cut costs, fund Alaskans’ way of life needed

With the Alaska legislative session beginning Jan. 19, many residents are holding their breath to see how legislators will address the budget concerns.

About a third of Alaskans wants the governor and Legislature to address the economy, and another third are looking for discussion on the budget and taxes, according to a July Rasmuson Foundation poll. As the price of oil hovers around $35 per barrel, the Legislature is planning to examine additional revenue sources as well as more cuts.

Drones to help spot stranded belugas

When the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales strand, it can be a guessing game as to how many and how old they are. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will soon have a little help monitoring them.

The agency will use an unmanned aircraft system, also known as a drone, during strandings to gather more information about the whales. Alaska Aerial Media, a licensed drone pilot company based in Anchorage, will do the actual flying.

Watershed Forum gets new director

As the new head of the Kenai Watershed Forum, there is a lot to learn, but Jack Sinclair said he’s up to the task.

Sinclair has taken over the role of executive director for the Soldotna-based conservation nonprofit after former executive director Robert Ruffner announced he would step down earlier this year. He said he has been working part-time in the role for about a month but transitioned into a full-time position on Dec. 18.

State focuses on business retention

In the face of impending fiscal disaster, the state of Alaska is partnering with regional economic development organizations and chambers of commerce to research the statewide business climate.

Economists have been examining ways to diversify the state’s economy as the price of oil continues to drop, taking the state’s budget with it. One way to shore up the economy is to promote local businesses, so the partners are hoping to find out more about what makes businesses stay in an area.

Kasilof special use plan blasted

Several organizations and activists are voicing opposition to the Department of Natural Resources Division of Mining, Land and Water plan to build a parking lot near the mouth of the Kasilof River.

The department, which manages the Kasilof River Special Use Area, proposed a development plan in late October that includes two parking lots on the north side of the river mouth. The parking lots together would accommodate 315 vehicles, a footprint some conservationists are saying is too large and could infringe on wildlife.

FDA approves ‘Frankenfish’

After five years of debate, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved genetically modified salmon for food.

The AquAdvantage salmon, produced by Massachusetts-based biotechnology company AquaBounty Technologies, is the first genetically modified animal approved for food in the United States. The salmon is designed to reach a larger size faster than farmed Atlantic salmon by splicing in a gene from Pacific Chinook, which allows the fish to produce more growth hormone.

LNG project could bring more traffic to busy Kenai River

Managers are concerned that pressure on the Kenai River could increase if the Alaska LNG project goes through.

The project is still tentative and will not receive a final ruling until 2018 at the earliest, but if it does go through, the borough could see an influx of as many as 5,000 workers for the five years it takes to construct the 900-acre plant in Nikiski. Unless the camp is closed, many of them will likely recreate on the Kenai River.

Navarre proposes uniting 3 hospitals under 1 umbrella

The Healthcare Task Force zeroed in on the hospitals at its meeting last week.

At its third meeting, the Healthcare Task Force heard from the representatives of Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board and the South Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area Board about their roles in hospital operations. Borough Mayor Mike Navarre also gave the borough administration’s recommendations for connecting the hospitals in Soldotna, Homer and Seward.

Here comes the boom: Peninsula business offers crane certification

The whole lot smelled of diesel, mud, rubber and rain. Brandon Leary, a crane operator for Crowley Maritime, delicately extended the hydraulic lift on the dull yellow crane, lowering the round weight onto a wood platform.

Bill Elmore swung his right arm horizontally, raindrops pinging from his hardhat. That Leary was done with the practical exam for his crane certification and could stop the crane was all said in one hand signal.

Anchor Point man faces federal weapons charges, making threats against law enforcement

An Anchor Point man faces federal charges for allegedly threatening law enforcement over the radio.

Larry Clarence Volz Jr., 58, was arrested Oct. 1 during a Federal Bureau of Investigation search of his home on the 41000 block of the Old Sterling Highway in Anchor Point. An FBI SWAT team executed a search warrant as part of a Safe Streets Task Force investigation, according to a statement from the FBI’s Anchorage office.

Angelica is back

She walks slowly, but Angelica Haakenson is walking.

Twelve-year-old Angelica of Anchor Point lost both her legs in a car accident on Christmas Day of 2014. After months of convalescence in Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital at Providence in Anchorage and physical therapy, she is slowly transitioning out of a wheelchair onto prosthetic legs.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Elizabeth Earl