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Northrim Bank launched the Alaskanomics blog to provide news, analysis and commentary on Alaska’s economy. With contributions from economists, business leaders, policy makers and everyday Alaskans, Alaskanomics aims to engage readers in an ongoing conversation about our economy, now and in the future.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015


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How should we invest the "Monetization" of the State of Alaska's natural resources?

I believe we are not using the Permanent Find wisely. Why do we feel it is appropriate to invest in a broad portfolio of out of state or out of country equity investments.

I believe need to come to terms with declining oil production, loss of jobs in the energy sector and begin to focus on value added monetization of our natural resources.

We have invested heavily in infrastructure in the past five years. I support investment in infrastructure because it improves our overall economic efficiency and our quality of life.

Having a steady and consistent investment in infrastructure is healthy for business and the economy of Alaska. We know the capital budgets for the energy companies is down between 30 and 50 percent. We should be using this slow period to ramp up State Infrastructure Projects. i.e. Improving the Dalton Hwy. Road access to Juneau. We will lose jobs and good long term Alaskans because of the energy slowdown, but we need not allow this to occur. The permanent fund is not some cash cow for the public, it is a way to invest our natural resources into a sustainable economy, i.e. value added industries. Keep Alaska Crude in ALaska and produce value added refined products to the west coast. We need to create an economic incentive to force the integrated oil companies to invest here in Alaska. We also need to provide a business friendly, labor friendly, regulatory environment.

The Gas Line is an example of a public private partnership and it has merit. BUT, the cost to the state for preliminary design without having a wellhead cost structure or "Gas Purchase Agreement" and general gas line operating cost structure is misguided in my opinion. The current price of nat gas will not support a 60 billion capital expense.

I believe we should have a state oil and gas "Severance Tax". Oil and gas that the leave the state without significant value added after shipping cost, equal or greater than 50% are taxed a 33% Severance tax on top of the current tax scheme. Phase this in beginning in five years. Allow the north slope gas to go directly to Canada Through the Beaufort McKenzie corridor and on to Alberta and collect the severance tax and be done with it. Put the 60 billion of the pipeline cost into infrastructure and exploration and production of new fields in NPR A. I don't think the market for LNG is going to be at the $15 a mmbtu for pacific LNG to support a in state gas line, too much LNG on the market and too much already under development. Oil however will go back to $150 because it is more consumer driven and as China and India develop their consumer economies (2 Billion new consumers with cars). Alaska can benefit most by refining Alaska Oil and exporting gas to help Canada develop the largest oil deposit in the world. Good for Alaska, Good for US energy independence, good for a stable long term economy based on stable energy costs.

I realize what I am proposing is controversial, however I would hope that some of these ideas are enough to help us have an honest discussion about what is truly in Alaska's best interest.

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