SMOOTH SAILING – A troller cruises across Sitka Sound during a hazy sunset Friday evening. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

2 Oil Firms Try Again To Hide Deal’s Finances

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Two oil companies renewed a request for Alaska regulators to protect the financial information of Hilcorp Energy Co., in its proposed $5.6 billion purchase of BP Alaska assets in the state. 

Hilcorp wants the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to shield its finances from public scrutiny during the proposed purchase, the Anchorage Daily News reported  Tuesday.

The oil companies blacked out document sections related to Hilcorp’s financial fitness and access to capital in a filing with the regulatory agency Monday.

“Petitioners seek to protect and keep confidential” answers to questions about Hilcorp’s financial reserves and its ability to acquire capital, the companies wrote in a request for confidentiality.

The companies provided information related to crude oil spills since 2003, but sought to keep a wide array of other information from public view, including pipeline repairs and operational risk assessments related to the trans-Alaska pipeline.

After oil prices plunged, the commission requested additional details in April. The regulators asked whether the industry turmoil impaired Hilcorp’s ability to borrow money to finance the purchase.

The companies, which hope to complete the sale by June following regulatory approval, argue that disclosure could put Hilcorp at a competitive disadvantage.

BP in August announced plans to sell to Hilcorp operations in Alaska, including interests in Prudhoe Bay, the Point Thomson gas field and the trans-Alaska pipeline system. BP recently announced altered terms, including the allowance of slower payments, while the sale price has not changed since the proposed sale was announced.

The agency will make a future determination on the request for confidentiality, commission spokeswoman Grace Salazar said.

The Alaska Public Interest Research Group has pressed for disclosure of Hilcorp’s finances out of concern the private company may be too small to handle unexpected costs, such as a major oil spill.

“This doesn’t allow the public to engage on this in a substantive way,” said Phil Wight, who studied the deal for the consumer rights group.

 

 

2 More Cruise Lines Cancel Alaska Sailings

JUNEAU (AP) — Two cruise lines said Wednesday they are canceling the remaining sailings they had planned for Alaska this summer, citing travel and other restrictions linked to coronavirus concerns.

Princess Cruises and Holland America Line had previously announced sharply reduced plans for voyages to and tours in Alaska. 

Earlier this week, Carnival Cruise Line announced it was canceling trips to Alaska this year. Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line fall under the Carnival Corp. umbrella.

Mike Tibbles, with Cruise Lines International Association Alaska, said by email that the state faces a loss of 479 voyages — or 80% of expected sailings — with a passenger capacity of more than 955,000 because of ship cancellations.

Tourism is a significant industry in Alaska. Some small communities swell in size with visitors during the typically bustling summer season. 

Messages seeking comment were left for an official with the Alaska Travel Industry Association. 

Virus Relief Funds For Tribes Ready to Go Out

By FELICIA FONSECA
 
The Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department said Tuesday that it will begin doling out billions in coronavirus relief funding to tribes more than a week after a congressional deadline and after being sued over who is eligible for the money.

The $2.2 trillion federal rescue package set aside $8 billion for tribal governments. It was supposed to be distributed by April 26, but the Treasury Department said it was grappling with how to do it.

Tribes sued the agency to keep the money from going to Alaska Native corporations, which own most Native lands in the state under a 1971 settlement but are not tribal governments. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington, D.C., gave the tribes a victory last week by limiting the funding to the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes while he settles the question of eligibility.

The Treasury Department said it will withhold an undisclosed amount calculated for the corporations until the case is resolved. 

Payments totaling $4.8 billion will go out to tribes over the next several days, based on population. Further payments based on the number of tribal employees and money that tribes have spent responding to the coronavirus will go out later, the agency said.

“Our approach is based on the fair balancing of tribal needs,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Tribes are relying on the money to stay afloat, respond to the coronavirus and recover after having to shut down casinos, tourism operations and other businesses that serve as their main moneymakers.

States, cities and counties already have received funding under the relief package. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said tribes have suffered crippling economic effects from the pandemic.

“Tribal leaders will continue to seek justice, speak out and request funding until tribal governments are made whole with COVID-19 response and recovery funding,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

 

 

August 5, 2020

A Note to Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One 

    On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus which was starting to show up in Alaska.

    We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Route delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

    Four months later, the virus is still with us and these precautions remain in effect.

    In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to receive their daily paper at designated drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers.

    As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions. The present method of having subscribers pick up their copy at designated sites will continue.

    The expiration date of all subscriptions is being extended, without charge, for an additional four months.

    We do this to say thank you for our readers’ support in these uncertain times. And special thanks to those readers who have insisted on paying for those four months.

    We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

    To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. We will also be mailing out reminder cards.

    The single copy price is back at 75 cents. To pay for a single copy drop 75 cents in coins in the slot of any Sentinel news rack where papers are available for pickup.

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-4-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 59

Total statewide – 3,394

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 17 (12 resident; 5 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 136.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

The School Board Tuesday discussed district policy on head lice. At present, students found to have head lice are kept from school until all lice are removed. The revised policy allows students who have nits to remain in school, with information on treatment and a nit-removing comb to be sent home with them.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

Legal notice: Sealed bids will be received ... for furnishing and installation of siding on the City
Garage, located on Halibut Point Road. ... City of Sitka, Alaska Fermin Gutierrez, Director of Public Works. 

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