Some see Alaska as key to America’s energy independence

Some see Alaska as key to America’s energy independence
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 6:42 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - This summer Alaskans felt the impact of world events on the energy market firsthand when soaring oil prices pushed up the cost of gasoline.

Alaska Oil and Gas Association Association President Kara Moriarty called it a lesson in supply and demand.

“We’ve seen that a disruption in supply and demand can happen overnight,” said Moriarty. “It can happen because of a pandemic, it can happen because of a European conflict, it can happen for a whole host of reasons. And so now, all of a sudden, the world is focused on safe places like America that has a lot of resources, and Alaska can be a key component of that.”

Alaska is key to achieving energy independence is a theme of this year’s annual Oil and Gas Association Conference, taking place Wednesday and Thursday at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage.

It’s a message not only relayed by the nonprofit, but also echoed by the state.

“As we look at a very unstable global environment, Alaska once again can play that very important role in being part of the United State’s effort to peaceably work with free peoples on delivering energy security without the threat of coercion,” said the acting Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Akis Gialopsos.

The oil industry in Alaska is facing challenges according to Moriarity. Thousands of industry jobs shed during the pandemic have not returned, and companies have had a hard time borrowing money for big projects

“There have been investment firms and banks that don’t want to invest in the Arctic for certain reasons — insurance companies. It is very challenging to attract investment,” Moriarty said.

This is why a recent announcement may be getting so much buzz. Last week the Australian Company Santos announced it was going forward with a $2.6 billion investment in the North Slope Pikka field. The new field is expected to produce 80,000 barrels of oil a day in phase one, which is scheduled to come online in 2026.

“Put that into context of our current production of 500 thousand barrels a day that’s a lot,” Moriarity said. “And this is just phase one of what they hope for a very, decades-long oil field on the North slope.”