Alaska governor meets with independent producers

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Dec. 22 -- Alaska Gov. Frank H. Murkowski met with a group representing 12 independent oil and gas producers interested in exploration in Alaska but concerned about tax incentives.

"We are looking to find out what we can do better to make Alaska's oil and gas province more attractive for investment of your exploration dollars," Murkowski said during the meeting earlier this month in Juneau.

"During the last session of the Legislature, we embarked on a process to help make Alaska more competitive, through enhanced exploration incentives, and streamlining and reform of the permitting process, for example. We are willing to do more. This is not business as usual anymore," he said.

The independents' representatives suggested revising the tax credit incentive and to expand the credit to state income taxes. Another major issue is the pipeline tariff and the fact that it often determines whether marginal oil reserves will be produced or left in the ground, they said.

Murkowski and the companies also briefly discussed issues such as access to clean-up equipment and the fact that the federal Jones Act requirement that shipments from other American ports to the North Slope can add millions of dollars in the cost of mobilizing and demobilizing from an exploration effort.

Acknowledging that high risk produces high rewards, Murkowski promised to continue work to open Alaska oil patches on the North Slope, the Alaska Peninsula, and Cook Inlet to independents.

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