Opinions

OPINION: Alaska’s oil and gas industry needs Lisa Murkowski

Lisa Murkowski, Pat Chesbro, Kelly Tshibaka, U.S. Senate, candidates, politics, campaign, debate, forum

A decade ago, the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) had bad news for Alaskans. In its annual forecast of domestic energy trends, the agency projected our state’s oil production would fall by one-third by 2025 and 55% by 2035. In a low-price scenario, EIA even suggested the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) could be shut down and decommissioned as soon as 2026.

EIA examined a range of factors, including the challenges of operating an Arctic pipeline with low throughput. What they didn’t account for was Alaska’s senior senator – Lisa Murkowski – who has worked side-by-side with North Slope operators and service providers, including the companies many of us work for, to increase production, help halt the decline and ensure a brighter future for Alaska’s budget revenue and the jobs of the thousands of amazing men and women who work in the industry.

As it stands, an average of almost 500,000 barrels of oil per day currently flow through TAPS. That wouldn’t be possible without Murkowski’s steadfast support and leadership, nor would we be on track for added production in the years ahead.

Murkowski has been a relentless advocate for resource development opportunities that are key to Alaska’s economic health. Her support was key in the approval of new projects, including CD-5, GMT-1, and GMT-2. As chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, she also used her gavel and her sway to finish the 40-year fight to open the non-wilderness 1002 Area to limited and responsible development.

One of Murkowski’s signature accomplishments, the Energy Act, was signed into law by President Donald Trump at the end of 2020. Against the odds, she pushed for domestic mineral development, including through common-sense permitting reforms. The law also provides new tools to harness hydropower and geothermal energy that will lower costs for many Alaska communities, and it creates opportunities for our state to become a carbon or hydrogen hub, where we could be a long-term global leader.

For her efforts, Murkowski was named the most effective Republican senator on energy. In the current Congress, even though she is a member of the Senate minority, she has chalked up several additional big wins for Alaska energy development.

Murkowski added language to the new infrastructure law that allows the current Alaska gasline project to qualify for a federal loan guarantee of up to $26 billion. As interest rates rise, that becomes more and more valuable, bringing Alaska’s gas closer and closer to market at a time when the world desperately needs it. Getting that provision signed into law by a Democratic President, in the midst of a Democratic Congress, was an amazing feat.

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Several weeks ago, in a development that made little news, Murkowski’s bill to provide offshore revenue sharing for Alaska was reported from the committee level on a bipartisan basis. Even members who oppose offshore development supported it. Murkowski also secured a commitment from her colleagues that no revenue sharing measure will move without Alaska being included — the type of agreement that comes from respect she has built in the Senate over many years.

Murkowski has also helped keep two critical projects on our North Slope on track.

The first is Pikka, for which Santos and Repsol recently announced a $2.6 billion investment to begin development. That project will create an estimated 2,600 construction jobs, 500 permanent jobs, and produce 80,000 barrels per day by 2026 — when the federal government once thought Alaska’s pipeline could be shutting down.

The second is Willow, a ConocoPhillips project that could produce up to 180,000 barrels per day. Despite President Joe Biden’s pledge to end federal oil and gas development, Murkowski helped convince him to keep moving the project forward. Without her involvement, you have to wonder if it wouldn’t have been rejected long ago.

Murkowski would be the first to share credit for these successes with her delegation colleagues, Sen. Dan Sullivan and the late Congressman Don Young. While they also played key roles, make no mistake: Murkowski, through her influence and leadership roles on key committees that has come from years of service in the Senate, has been a driving force behind the good things happening in Alaska’s energy industry. Each of us who work in the industry has benefited from her experience and hard work, and will continue to do so if she is reelected.

Murkowski’s presence in the Senate is more important now than ever. She has a plan to increase access to federal lands, build out more energy infrastructure and advocate for needed federal permits. She has the legislative experience and bipartisan relationships it will take to bring these to fruition, and none of her political challengers can match her in this.

By 2019, federal analysts had changed their minds about Alaska’s energy future and upgraded their projections of our state’s production between 2031 and 2050 by 90%. The Biden administration will challenge Alaska’s ability to deliver those needed resources, but there is no question our fortunes have turned around for the better and we have Lisa Murkowski to thank for that. At this critical time, we need to keep her in the Senate to fight for development of our resources, our jobs and the health of our economy.

Tom Barrett, Greg Campbell, Doug Chapados, Bruce Dingeman, Kelly Droop, Michelle Egan, Betsy Haines, John Hendrix, Terry Howard, Erec Isaacson, Jim Jansen, Scott Jepsen, David W. Karp. Leila Kimbrell, Rebecca Logan, Kara Moriarty, Hans Neidig and Christine Resler are leaders and experts from Alaska’s resource community and business sectors supporting Alaska’s energy industry.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

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