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Shell’s chief executives responded to questions about the January grounding of the Kulluk drill rig during the company’s annual results conference in London Thursday.
In a prepared presentation, Shell’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Voser, played down the company’s many mishaps in Alaska last year.
“Despite making some progress we have run into problems in the last few months. Our rigs will need more work if they are going to be ready for the 2013 drilling season. One, the Noble Discoverer needs a series of upgrades, and the other, the Kulluk, ran aground in a heavy storm on New Year’s Eve and has been damaged.”
Voser reiterated that the company considers the Kulluk grounding a marine shipping incident, completely separate from its drilling operations in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. But he wouldn’t elaborate on whether the grounding could impact drilling plans for this summer.
“We need to wait for the investigations, which some external bodies are doing, but which we are also doing internally, assess the risks and the learnings and then lay out our plans for the years to come.”
Voser emphasized that the company is viewing the grounding as learning opportunity.
“I cannot say what the learning is at this stage. But let me also say, and I know this is always dangerous to say because it will generate the headlines, but I have not seen in the world any business, not just the energy business, but all businesses — they have risks at the end of the day. And you need to manage those risks, and we do it is as good as we can. We learn when it doesn’t work and we will manage these risks going forward. But I cannot say there will never be an incident — that just isn’t going to work.”
Following up on that statement, Tim Webb, the energy editor at The Times in London, asked Voser if Shell was moving the rig from Unalaska to Seattle in order to evade Alaska’s oil and gas property tax.
“Assuming you say that’s true, because I think that came from Shell, would you say that’s an example of Shell not managing risks correctly, or making a poor decision in terms of managing risk in Alaska?”
In response, Voser denied that the decision to move the rig had anything to do with taxes, saying that the $5-6 million they would have had to pay is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
“There was a statement made by a Shell person, but in a completely different context, in a completely different meeting. That was then taken out of that context and then someone made a story out it. Just to be very clear on this one.”
The original story was written by Dutch Harbor Fisherman reporter Jim Paulin. In it, he quoted an email from Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith that was sent before the grounding. Paulin says he stands by his reporting.
“And I don’t think Shell would be backing away from that comment had it not gone aground. I think they would have been sending lobbyists to Juneau to try to repeal that tax. And I think that would be, in my opinion, the motivation for making that comment that it influenced their decision to move it.”
If the company was moving the rig for tax purposes, the cost of the incident has definitely exceeded what they would have saved. Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said they anticipate spending at least $90 million on the incident in the first quarter of 2013.
“The $40 million I mentioned is the pure salvage cost to salvage operators. The $50 million is everything else — the Coast Guard, our own vessels etc.”
Henry added that those figures don’t include the cost of repairing the rig — he said that information won’t be available until there are more details about the extent of the damage.
The only information the Unified Command has released is that the rig is in sufficiently stable condition to remain anchored in Kiliuda Bay, on the south side of Kodiak Island.
The Alaska Republican Party’s Executive Committee has blocked incoming party chair. Russ Millette from taking his position. In a meeting last night, the committee voted to oust Millette, who was elected to the chairman’s position at the party’s annual state convention in April of last year. Millette says he’s weighing his options to fight the decision.
Kikkan Randall won the world cup skate sprint near Sochi, Russia today, on the same course that will serve as the Olympic venue next year. The Alaska Pacific University skier won all three heats. The U.S. Ski team noted there was new fog and heavy snow throughout the race. It was Randall’s third world cup win for the season. She is currently in first place in the sprint standings and third place overall. Randall’s teammate Holly Brooks, placed 16th.
Oral arguments are being heard Friday in US District Court in Anchorage for a lawsuit that challenges the decision made by the National Marine Fisheries Service to authorize the first of at least three years of seismic exploration in Cook Inlet.
The lead plaintiff in the case, the Native Village of Chickaloon, is concerned that the air guns Apache Corporation plans to use to conduct the seismic tests will disturb the habitat of the remaining population of Beluga whales in Cook Inlet.
The sounds of waves crashing that we land lovers hear from the shore or on a boat is just a small sample of the dynamic soundscape under the surface. The team at Ocean Conservation Research has a sound library and you can hear what the whales sound like (a little like R2-D2), and what the air guns sound like, and also what they sound like from 1,500 miles away.
The plaintiff’s suit seeks to rescind NMFS’s decision to allow Apache Corporation to proceed with seismic testing using those air guns, which court documents say generate sound levels in excess of 200 decibels.
“Basically, what we’re asking the federal government to do is go back to the drawing board on this one,” said Rebecca Noblin, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups representing the Village, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Take back its authorization to do the surveys, take a look at the science again and we would say don’t issue another authorization unless there’s some way they can mitigate all the impacts,” Noblin said.
A call was made to Apache spokesperson Lisa Parker for their take on the proceedings, but, as Apache is an intervenor in the case, she declined to comment.
The plaintiff’s suit contends that the decision violates portions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act and would effect and possibly endanger populations of Stellar sea lions, killer whales, harbor porpoises, harbor seals, fish and Cook Inlet Belugas.
For oral arguments, the Court is asking both sides to explain the legal impact of this case for future development in Cook Inlet, what the most important studies are regarding impacts to marine life and how important is the fact that in the first year of survey activities, there were no ‘takes’ as a result of the survey work.
Tlingit elder and original Sealaska Native Corporation board member Clarence Jackson passed away Thursday at the age of 78.
He’s being remembered for his contributions to the Native land claims movement, and for being an ambassador for Tlingit culture in both the business world and his personal life.
Sealaska Heritage Institute President Rosita Worl says Jackson relished comforting people in times of need. He served as master of ceremonies at the memorial service for the late Reverend Dr. Walter Soboleff in 2011.
“He became like our ambassador from Sealaska, where he would attend all of the funerals, all the memorials,” Worl said. “He was there to comfort clans and the family of those who had lost someone.”
Jackson was born in Kake in 1934. He lived there most of his life, attending Sheldon Jackson High School in Sitka, before moving back to the village, where he was a fisherman and operated a small store.
Worl says he was a great fisherman, who loved boats.
“We always say, it is as if the spirits of the animals know him and they give themselves to those kind of people who have those good spirits,” she said. “So, yes, he was a great fisherman.”
In the 1960s, Jackson was involved in the Alaska Native claims movement as a delegate to the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians. He served as Central Council president from 1972 through 1976.
Also in 1972, Jackson signed the articles of incorporation for Sealaska, the regional Native Corporation for Southeast, created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. He was the only board member to serve continuously from the time Sealaska was founded.
Current board chair Albert Kookesh first met Jackson when he joined the board in 1975. He says they quickly became friends.
“We’re both from villages right next to each other. He’s from Kake and I’m from Angoon,” said Kookesh. “He knew my father and he knew Walter Soboleff, my uncle. So I got immediately scooped up into his little circle.”
Kookesh says Jackson was a champion of village life and traditional culture on the board, something he attributed to being raised by his Tlingit speaking grandparents.
Kookesh says his ability to speak both Tlingit and English fluently made Jackson a valuable asset to the company.
“His Tlingit background, and his Tlingit stories, and his Tlingit upbringing gave him a really good sense of oration,” Kookesh said. “Very, very articulate. Not somebody who went to college, not somebody who went to law school, not somebody who went to graduate school. But somebody who went to the upper learnings of the Tlingit culture.”
When the corporation established the nonprofit Sealaska Heritage Institute in 1980, Jackson became one of its trustees and served as chair of the Council of Traditional Scholars.
Worl says the council was instrumental in identifying the core cultural values that guide the institute to this day.
“Clarence would remind us always, this is what makes us Native people, it’s our cultural values,” Worl said.
Jackson talked about the importance of preserving those values at Celebration 2012, the biennial cultural and educational event sponsored by the Heritage Institute.
“We’re strengthening our culture,” Jackson said. “We might hear a new song here and there this Celebration. But it’s a shoring up time to not be doing anything just for show. But to show the young people, this is the way it is.”
Jackson spent much of the past two months in Seattle receiving cancer treatment. He recently returned to Alaska, and died surrounded by friends and family on Thursday.
A service will be held at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall (former ANB Hall) in Juneau on Saturday at 5 p.m.
A video of Clarence Jackson from Celebration 2012:
This week, we’re visiting the Prince William Sound Community of Chenega. Sandra Angaiak is a tribal administrator assistant in Chenega.
If you’re in the habit of running East Anchorage trails in the winter in the dark, then you might have run by a compact, dark-haired doctor named Joanie Hope, jogging slowly with her headphones on, singing. She is the state’s only gynecologic oncologist. But she’s also in a rock band, that tours nationally to raise awareness for gynecological cancers. Their first Alaska concert is tomorrow. Anchorage Daily News columnist Julia O’Malley has the story.
This story is a collaboration between the Anchorage Daily News and APRN.
Read Julia O’Malley’s print story and hear Marc Lester’s audio postcard:
Although some legislators remain interested in authorizing a state coastal zone management program, a year and a half after the former program expired amidst disagreement between the House and Senate and five months after voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative to establish a new program, Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, suggested Friday that he feels voters have already weighed in.
Lifelong Sitkan Monica Eastham was this week’s guest on the “Deserted Island” segment of Earbones with Ken and Rachel Friday night at 8pm. She selected these ten songs plus delicious bread pudding with bourbon sauce to bring to her dessert-ed island!
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – The Lonely Bull
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show – Queen Of The Silver Dollar
Free – All Right Now
Queen – Save Me
John Mellencamp – Hot Night In A Cold Town
The Cars – Dangerous Type
Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes – Having A Party
Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
Wings – Mull Of Kintyre
2 cups milk
¼ cup butter or margarine
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
6 cups dry bread cubes (8 slices)
½ cup raisins, optional
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons whipping cream
3 to 4 tablespoons bourbon (or 2 teaspoons brandy extract)
1. Heat oven to 350ºF. In 2-quart saucepan, heat milk and 1/4 cup butter over medium heat until butter is melted and milk is hot.
2. In large bowl, mix granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and eggs with wire whisk until well blended. Stir in bread cubes (and raisins) . Stir in milk mixture. Pour into ungreased 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish or 1 1/2-quart casserole. Place casserole in 13×9-inch pan; pour boiling water into pan until 1 inch deep.
3. Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge of baking dish comes out clean.
4. In 1-quart heavy saucepan, heat all sauce ingredients to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Serve sauce over warm bread pudding. Store in refrigerator.
Makes 8 servings
Save some for breakfast too!
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Jazz singer Barbara Morrison has known highs and lows in her long career, the joy of making music with the all-time greats, and the devastating pain of diabetes. A professional musician who spends 150-200 nights a year on the road, Morrison helps her students at UCLA to balance their career dreams with the physical toll performance can take. Having lost the use of her legs, Morrison says she’s found a way to “sing from my core.” Morrison is a guest artist at this weekend’s Sitka Jazz Festival. With KCAW’s Holly Keen.
Lawyers on either side of a lawsuit against the City of Sitka made arguments in a case dealing with a measure that would require voter approval before the city sells or leases land at the site of a former pulp mill.
The group Sitkans for Responsible Government circulated a petition in 2008. Their initiative would have required a vote before the city disposed of property at what is now known as Sawmill Cove Industrial Park.
But the city wouldn’t certify the initiative, and so the petition’s backers, Mike Litman and Jeff Farvour, sued. The case made its way up to the Alaska Supreme Court, which ruled on certain issues in the case, deciding in favor of the petition backers. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Superior Court for another look.
And so, Friday’s hearing.
Lawyer Michael Gatti, arguing for the city, said one of the main issues is that the initiative would allow voters to make an appropriation. That power is reserved for the Assembly. By giving voters the ability to essentially veto a project at Sawmill Cove Industrial Park, the initiative would let them divert money away from the park. That’s an appropriation, Gatti argued.
He cited a case in Kenai, where the court said voters cannot use the initiative process to control money.
Joe Geldhof, representing Farvour and Litman, disagreed that the initiative proposed by his clients would make any appropriations. He said Sitka’s codes already require voter approval for the sale or lease of property over a certain amount, and that all his clients wanted to do was remove the exemption for the industrial park.
The hearing comes a day after Superior Court Judge David George granted a motion by Geldholf to strike the city’s argument that his client’s petition was confusing and misleading. He said the Supreme Court explicitly said it wasn’t, and that the matter should not be part of the current arguments.
In court on Friday, George asked questions of both attorneys but did not issue a ruling on the entire case. He says he’ll take the matter under advisement and rule later. The hearing lasted about 90 minutes.
Listen to iFriendly audio.
Visiting seismologist says Queen Charlotte fault remains one of the most active. Assembly decides to interview 2 attorney candidates, but without administrator’s help. House Transportation Committee grills Kemp on Alaska-class ferry during confirmation hearing.
The Petersburg Assembly will try again to move ahead with a borough-wide bed tax during a regular meeting which starts at noon on Monday. The four percent tax on hotel rooms and other accommodation has long been in place within the former city boundaries. The ordinance would extend it borough-wide. It includes a special provision for businesses that offer the room as part of a combined-package along with meals and fishing. Rather than charging the room tax on the whole bill, the bed tax would only have applied to 30 percent of the package price. However, the assembly voted down the ordinance last month in response to concern from a local lodge owner, who said the actual room was a much smaller part of the bill that guests pay. The new version of the ordinance would apply the room tax to just 15 percent of the package price instead. It’s up for a vote in first reading Monday.
The assembly will take a final vote on extending Petersburg’s six-percent sales tax borough-wide. The measure passed unanimously in the first two readings with no comments from the assembly or the public last month.
In other business, the Assembly will consider having the Alaska Department of Natural Resources temporarily retain planning and platting authority for most areas of the borough that are outside the former city limits. That’s at least until after the borough appoints a planning commission, which currently has no members. The decision would not apply to the City of Kupreanof, which retains its own, separate planning authority under borough charter.
Monday’s agenda also includes a resolution against genetically-modified salmon. The U-S Food and Drug Administration is poised to approve the application of a Massachusetts company which wants to produce the animals for human consumption. FDA’s preliminary finding is that the plan would not have a significant impact on the U.S. environment. The assembly’s proposed resolution challenges that finding with a variety of environmental, economic and human health concerns.
In other issues:
- The Assembly will approve a process for deciding whether to retain or disband various advisory boards and committees that were in place under city government.
- Assembly members will consider endorsing a Department of Fish and Game budget request for more salmon stream survey funding.
-They’ll review a plan to replace the Mountain View Manor van.
-The Assembly will also consider sending a letter of support for state funding to help Petersburg Mental Health Services buy and renovate a building to serve as its new facility.
-And they’ll discuss a Federal Highway Administration invitation for the Borough to participate in the planning process for a proposed road and ferry between Petersburg to Kake.
At the end of the meeting, the Assembly is scheduled to have a closed-door executive session about contract negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
For the first time, the regular assembly meeting will take place during the day instead of the evening. That’s part of an effort to make the meetings more accessible to borough residents who live further away. The assembly convenes at noon Monday. KFSK will broadcast it live.
Tlingit elder, Sealaska board member Clarence Jackson dies
Tlingit elder and original Sealaska Corporation board member Clarence Jackson died Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 78.
At approx. 2:00 pm today a coyote attacked a small dog in the Piedad area. The dog's owner was able to retreive the dog, which had received several bite punctures, but appears to be O.K. Dog owners in this area are being advised to use caution when your pets are outside.
Kemp talks Alaska Class Ferry, Juneau Access in confirmation hearing
The joint Alaska House and Senate Transportation Committees Tuesday sent the name of Governor Sean Parnell’s pick for Transportation Commissioner, Pat Kemp, t
Local News for Jan. 28, 2013 | KHNS FM
Local reaction to the changes to the Alaska Class Ferry project; a power outage, a small earthquake, chilly weather and a basketball wrap-up.