Industry Outlook Forum Wraps-up with Mining Updates
As they continue growing on the Kenai Peninsula, Adams says the company is looking at areas of work that can be done more efficiently since funding from the state looks like it will continuously shrink. Following lunch, Larry Persily, Special Oil and Gas Assistant to the Borough Mayor, gave an update on the Alaska LNG project, starting first with a slight rebound in oil prices. Phase 2 is on the drawing board thanks to some tax credits recently extended to the project. That phase would put 11 additional turbines on the island. For over 20 years, Donlin Gold has been working on an open-pit mine located in western Alaska, north of the small village of Crooked Creek, and about ten miles north of the Kuskokwim River. The Army Corp of Engineers suggested three alternatives for going forward:no mine at all, the current proposed mine, or an alternative that would reduce barging traffic and mine environmental impacts. The Army Corps of Engineers is in the process reviewing that draft EIS with, and gathering public comments from, communities in western Alaska that would be impacted. Attendees also heard updates on mining operations from around the state. CEO Monica Adams, with Peninsula Community Health Services, thanked Davis for covering the health care climate and challenges going on, saying PCHS is experiencing many of the same hurdles. PCHS also plans to begin work on an obstetrics program in late 2016, possibly early 2017. 2015 saw record sales numbers in the Kenai Fjord Tours, which Minich says the corporation believes is in part to low transportation costs because of low oil prices. As for other successes for CIRI, the shareholder company owns Tikhatnu Commons in Anchorage, a thriving 95 acre business center near Muldoon. Minich says some the Commons’ chain stores and restaurants there, like the new Panda Express, report the highest volume of sales for that chain in the nation. Following Minich’s CIRI presentation, Central Peninsula Hospital Chief Executive Officer Rick Davis gave attendees an overview of the current healthcare climate and what it means for our local hospital. Mike Heatwole gave an update from the Pebble Limited Partnership saying what the Pebble Mine wants right now is to get into the permitting process, the efforts of which have come up against a few hurdles. The Pebble Limited Partnership continues working on the lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, in which Pebble believes that the EPA took preemptive measures to stop the project before it could be properly vetted via the permitting process. Central Peninsula Hospital is working on changing the model they use to treat patients, transitioning to a more quality versus quantity of procedures/patients model. Now more than ever, Minich says investments are happening in the Cook Inlet region and nothing demonstrates that more than the Fire Island Wind Project: the wind turbines that can be seen when flying to Anchorage. Adams says in 2016 PCHS is expanding their Soldotna facility to include a Pharmacy, adding a pediatrics branch to their Kenai facility and add a permanent Dental resident to their Kenai Dentist office. That project is located in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and federal permitting was acquired when the well was drilled, but because of unfulfilled contracts, the project was paused until CIRI took ownership again. . Minich says 2-D and 3-D seismic field work will begin next week to investigate the formation. . Heatwole says North was located in Austrailia a few weeks ago and summoned to be interviewed for the case. As for the Alaska LNG project, Persily reiterated that there are two tracks of work that intertwine: the work seen on the Kenai Peninsula that includes field work, environmental data and property; and the political and financial track, which is largely private negotiations between the project partners, state representatives, and the governor. Minich says currently there is no power purchase agreement, CIRI is waiting for a company to purchase the energy that would be created from phase two. She says the new phase would create cheaper energy than phase one because the infrastructure is already in place. CPH Chief Executive Officer Rick Davis says the incentives that prompt hospitals and physicians to treat as many people as possible has not been the best model. Now the focus will be more coordinated between mental, physical, and preemptive care. Persily says in the last ten days or so, North Slope Oil prices have rebounded approximately 20 percent, coming from the low price of $26 per barrel to approximately $31 per barrel as of Thursday. He says the increase is good news, however, there’s no reason to celebrate quite yet as oil prices are still very low. Transitioning to utilities, Brad Janorschke with Homer Electric Association began his presentation by having everyone in the room stand up. He asked people to sit down who believed HEA’s rates had stayed the same as of January 1, which totaled about two. Then he asked attendees to sit down who believed January 1 brought an increase in member costs: approximately a third of the room sat down. CIRI recently re-acquired the Shadura project, located north of Kenai, a prospect formerly drilled by Nordaq which found potential for commercial quantities of natural gas. Heatwole says at this point the EPA has been blocked by an injunction from taking any further steps against Pebble until the mining company can present it’s case in court. The corporation’s biggest operations on the Kenai Peninsula is in CIRI Tourism at places like Kenai Fjord tours, Seward Windsong Lodge, and the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge. If permits are issued, the project would take approximately three to four years to build and it would be one of the largest gold mines in the world. Cook Inlet Regional, Inc’s (CIRI) President and CEO Sophie Minich kicked off Friday morning at the annual Kenai Industry Outlook Forum, sharing the corporation’s mission of enhancing the quality of life by pursuing sustainable development across the state and nation.Minich says with CIRI’s investments in real estate properties, oil, energy and infrastructure, tourism, and hospitlity, the shareholder portfolio is “absolutely 100 percent diversified”. FacebookTwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享KSRM’s Ashley Smith is reporting from the 2016 Industry Outlook Forum in Kenai throughout Friday. Refresh for updates. He says much of the behind the scenes work right now is working to bring down the whole project’s costs so that the price will be competitive when Alaska begins to market that to countries interested in the gas. Parkan says one of the suggested ways to reduce the barging traffic include LNG powered trucks. He says the problem with the LNG powered trucks is that currently there area no companies producing those in the commercial numbers that Donlin would need for the project. Currently in the Cook Inlet, CIRI owns 450,000 acres which are leased to oil and gas entities like Hilcorp and Apache which are continuing exploration. Kurt Parkan with Donlin Gold says one of the most recent developments is that the Army Corp of Engineers released their draft Environmental Impact Statements in November of 2015. Since the injunction was issued, Heatwole says it has been decided that Pebble will get to interview 35 people they believe have knowledge of the EPA’s illegal actions. Previously Pebble was working to find Phil North, a former EPA employee who allegedly helped draft one of the tribal petitions that EPA later claimed to rely on for their decision against the mine. Janorschke went on to show that due to recent gas contracts, HEA members should be seeing an approximately $6-7 savings as of January 1.