DAY OF CARING – Kelsi Kubik, left, and Denise Gossman of GCI take a break from volunteer work to look at the bears feeding on salmon at the Fortress of the Bear Monday during the United Way Day of Caring. Volunteer groups from Sitka businesses did volunteer work at non-profits, including the Fortress of the Bear, Sitka Fine Arts Camp and the SAFV shelter during the annual event. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Cordova’s Ferry Service Shutting Down Until May

    ANCHORAGE (AP) — A coastal Alaska fishing town will soon be cut off from vehicles with the closure of its ferry service because of state budget cuts, officials said.
    The Alaska Marine Highway System will temporarily end service to Cordova following funding cuts by Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Monday.
    The budget cuts approved by the state Legislature are expected to end winter trips to Cordova by the ferry service beginning Friday.
    There are no roads to the community about 150 miles (237 kilometers) southeast of Anchorage and the ferry typically runs a few times each week during the winter.
    After this week, Cordova, Valdez and the Native village of Tatitlek in Prince William Sound are not expected to receive another ferry visit until May, officials said.
    Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin watched last week as fishermen returning their families to the road system at the end of the season boarded the state ferry Aurora.
    “It’s an exodus,” Koplin said. “People are trying to get out of here.”
    Alaska’s coastal residents have warned of possible effects of ferry budget reduction including the loss of businesses and jobs. There is also a danger of the permanent departure of residents who cannot afford to pay for regular plane tickets of at least $150 instead of $70 ferry rides, officials said.
    Cordova has pressed the Dunleavy administration to shuffle the ferry system’s ships to provide periodic winter visits. The town may also explore private service, Koplin said.
    “It’s called baseline, minimal service, and that is not what Cordova is getting — we’re getting the lights turned off,” Koplin said.

Load of Fuel Shipped by Sea to North Slope

    PRUDHOE BAY – “Improving ice conditions off the coast of Alaska” have made it possible for 3.5 million gallons of diesel fuel to be delivered to the North Slope oil fields by barge, Colville, Inc., the Alaska-based company providing logistics and fuel transport services for the North Slope, has announced.
    The barge arrived at Deadhorse last Friday, and the offloading operation will continue through this week. Last year the company delivered 2 million gallons of diesel to Deadhorse by barge, Colville said.
     “Fuel for North Slope oil field operations is typically delivered overland by trucks pulling 59-foot tankers for than 850 miles from a refinery in Valdez and up the Dalton Highway to the North Slope,” the company said in the news release.
    “Colville makes 2,000 such trips each year, each hauling nearly 10,000 gallons of diesel. This year’s barge delivery is equivalent to 350 deliveries by truck,” the company said.
    The company said it will continue to consider additional barge deliveries of fuel in the future, but they will not replace the trucking operation.


Two tanker trucks discharge their 10,000-gallon loads of diesel fuel at the Colville tank farm at Prudhoe Bay. The trucks were loaded at the nearby Deadhorse dock from a barge bringing 3.5 million gallons of diesel for North Slope oil field operations. (Photo provided)



Group Moves to Get Vote On Oil Tax Credit System

    FAIRBANKS (AP) — A new Alaska group hopes to overhaul the state’s oil and gas tax credit system through a ballot initiative called the Fair Share Act, a report said.
    The group hopes to enact the proposal into law in 2020, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday.
    The group submitted the initiative application to Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who has until Oct. 15 to approve or reject the application. If approved, the group would need to collect at least 28,501 signatures, or 10% of the number of voters in the last general election.
    The group includes former Democratic state Sen. Joe Paskvan, a previous Senate Resources Committee chair.
    Group member Robin Brena said the initiative would only apply to three of the state’s large oil fields. Prudhoe Bay, Alpine and Kuparuk produced an average daily minimum of 40,000 barrels of oil in the last calendar year, she said.
    The initiative would increase the gross minimum production tax for those fields from the current 4% to 10%. It would also increase the 10% minimum by 1%, up to a maximum of 15%, for each $5 per-barrel increase in the price of oil beginning at $50 per barrel.
    The measure would additionally increase net production tax by eliminating the $8 per-barrel credit and adding an additional 15% tax on producers’ profits beginning at $50 per barrel of profit.
    The initiative would require publication of production tax returns for the fields.
    “In order to be a fair share, it needs to be fair to the industry and it needs to be fair to Alaskans,” Brena said. “Right now, it’s not fair to Alaskans.”

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