Council: Homer harbor open for business

The Homer City Council earlier this month unanimously passed a resolution expressing and formalizing the city’s position and policy that “oil and gas drilling rigs and support vessels operated by Buccaneer Energy or other companies are welcome and encouraged to use the city of Homer port and harbor facilities.”

An economic impact analysis of Buccaneer’s impact on the Kenai Peninsula was included in the council’s packet for the Dec. 9 meeting. The analysis was requested by the council to assess the benefit of the time the jack-up rig spent at the Homer harbor for repairs during 2012-2013. 

The analysis, prepared by Northern Economics, indicated that Buccaneer’s direct spending within the Kenai Peninsula Borough totaled $3.8 million for shipyard work and operations and property tax.

The shipyard work and operations included $577,000 spent on port fees for dockage, moorage and water, as well as stevedoring and assorted services. The $454,730 property tax includes $181,087 for the borough, $181,087 for the city of Homer and $92,556 for South Peninsula Hospital.

The report also indicated Buccaneer generated 50 jobs, $1.8 million in labor and $4.8 million in total output within the borough.

The council approved Resolution 13-118 without objection as part of the Dec. 9 consent agenda.

“I want you to realize that welcoming them in is going to put a new burden on the harbormaster and Kachemak Bay, which is a critical habitat area and deserves a little protection,” said Homer resident Robert Archibald during public comments. “I hope you would look at this invitation with a little light, that you’re going to have to step up about how you’re going to have to demand performance from these people.”

During her closing comments, Mayor Wythe responded to Archibald.

“We have to be able to say having a jack-up rig at this community is not the end of the world,” said Wythe. 

“They spent a ton of money in this community last year. We need to be looking at fiscal responsibility. We are a community. We have a port and harbor for the purpose of sustaining itself, contributing. We have to not shirk every single opportunity that will generate commerce in this community. If we’re going to be open for business, we need to be open for business with assets that can grow this community,” she said

Also at the Dec. 9 meeting, Buccaneer spokesperson Christina Anderson provided a brief update on the company’s West Eagle project and spoke in support of Resolution 13-118. 

With regard to West Eagle, a gas exploration project 21 miles east of Homer, Anderson said Buccaneer had worked with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to improve road conditions at mile 15 and 16 of East End Road in preparation for moving the Glacier, a drilling rig, from Kenai to the site. The road work had been done earlier this year, but had to be redone after fall flooding.

Buccaneer’s plans originally called for the drilling and well tests to be completed by October, the well plugged and abandoned or activity at the well suspended, and coordination with DOT&PF for returning the drill rig to Kenai. Plans also included set-up of temporary office and construction buildings at the West Eagle pad in August. 

According to Richard Loomis, with Buccaneer Energy’s communications and public affairs office in Texas, the drilling pad has been made and fenced in, and a water well has been drilled.

Permits needed for the West Eagle project include:

• A plan of operations, issued by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources;

• Temporary water use permits, issued by DNR;

• A minor general air permit, issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation;

• Authorization for temporary storage of drilling waste, issued by ADEC;

• A land use permit issued by the Kenai Peninsula Borough; and

• A permit to drill, issued by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at