FIRST YEARLY INCREASE IN NEARLY 15 YEARS: The Alaska Republican Party responded favorably to data showing annual North Slope oil production increasing for the first time since 2002.
Surprisingly, the announcement came not from the State, but from the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, which released this statement on Saturday:
This is a powerful testament to what a competitive tax policy can do for oil production. What is especially noteworthy about the production increase is that it happened during a period of low oil prices. Despite that challenge, Alaska saw enough investment to realize the first production increase in almost 15 years. It also proves that continued, sustained decline can be reversed given the right investment climate. - Kara Moriarty, CEO, Alaska Oil and Gas Association
Data from the State of Alaska shows an increase from 508,000 barrels to 512,456 barrels year over year. And the trend is positive: In March of 2015, oil production slipped to 497,674 barrels per day from the North Slope. But the investment climate provided by the More Alaska Production Act, SB 21, was already turning the production around, even as prices were falling. A year later, March 2016 production reached 543,736.
AOGA made the data public, but no such announcement has been made by the Governor's Office, which is pressing to increase taxes and reduce incentives for oil and gas exploration and development.
The House Finance Committee is hearing testimony on the Committee Substitute for House Bill 247, Governor Walker’s oil and gas tax bill. The governor’s bill seeks a tax increase, at a time when companies are losing billions of dollars in Alaska due to low oil prices.
"We need to proceed with great caution on jacking up taxes," said Alaska Republican Party Chairman Frank McQueary. "Our economy in Alaska depends on energy companies being able to invest in exploration and development, so we can get that increased production and keep our pipeline from freezing up.
"It should be obvious to everyone the governor has declared war on the biggest driver of the state economy and it's no wonder they are trying to hide numbers that prove that SB 21 has been working," he said.