Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, January 18, 2001

Oil, gas conference planned

The Alaska Support Industry Alliance plans a conference on the oil and gas industry Jan. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel.

Speakers at the Meet Alaska 2001 conference will discuss opportunities and challenges presented by advances in technology, industry innovations and global dynamics. Confirmed speakers include Keith Bailey, president of Williams Co.; Geoffrey Briggs, director of the NASA Center for Mars Exploration; Dodd DeCamp, vice president of world exploration for Phillips Petroleum Co.; Dick Olver, managing director and executive vice president for BP; Edward Kelley, director of research, North American natural gas, for Cambridge Energy Research Associates; Richard Campbell, president of BP Exploration (Alaska); Kevin Meyers, president of Phillips Alaska Inc., Brian Rodgers, a researcher for the Alaska Oil and Gas Association's statewide economic impact study, David Wight, president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.; and Gov. Tony Knowles.

Registration costs $185 for Alliance members and $195 for nonmembers. To register, call 563-2226.

Trading Bay Unit produces 600-millionth barrel

Unocal's Trading Bay Unit in Cook Inlet produced its 600-millionth barrel of oil on Jan. 11, putting the field in the ranks of Unocal's all-time biggest producers.

The Trading Bay Unit encompasses the McArthur River Field, the inlet's largest producing offshore oil field. It includes four of the 10 platforms Unocal operates in Cook Inlet.

Unocal discovered the McArthur River Field in 1965 and started production in October 1967. Peak production was 120,000 barrels per day in the 1970s. Current production is 12,500 barrels per day. Unocal's working interest is 54 percent, with the remaining interest held by Forest Oil Corp.

Unocal holds interests in 17 established Cook Inlet fields and operates 15. Its net daily Cook Inlet production is now 144 million cubic feet of natural gas and 12,000 barrels of oil.

State announces oil, gas leasing schedule

Gov. Tony Knowles has announced a new five-year schedule for state oil and gas lease sales.

The schedule calls for 16 areawide sales through 2005 -- five each in Cook Inlet, the Beaufort Sea and on the North Slope and one in the North Slope Foothills. The Cook Inlet sales are scheduled each May, while the North Slope and Beaufort Sea sales are scheduled each October. The single Foothills sale will be in May.

The schedule is available at on the Internet or from the Division of Oil and Gas at 550 West 7th Ave. in Anchorage.

Self-employment workshop offered

The Peninsula Job Center sponsors a workshop to explore self-employment opportunities and self-employment training today from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Peninsula Job Center in Kenai. For information, call Shirley at 260-2663.

Congress improves SBA loan programs

The U.S. Small Business Administration now can guarantee up to 85 percent of loans up to $150,000 thanks to recent changes to the 7(a) General Business Loan Guaranty program. Changes enacted by Congress also simplified the guaranty fee structure.

Under the 7(a) program, the agency applies a partial guaranty to a loan extended to a small business by a commercial lender. The program allows lenders to make loans to some businesses that fall outside normal credit criteria.

"These loans are much in demand by new businesses and entrepreneurs with great ideas for start-ups, yet these are the hardest loans to get," said SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez. "This package of changes will make it easier and more attractive for lenders to make these loans."

Congress also changed SBA's 504 program, which small businesses use to finance fixed assets. Generally, SBA can loan up to 40 percent of the cost, with the rest coming from the borrower and a conventional commercial loan. The new law increases the maximum amount for the SBA portion. For loans that meet job creation or community development goals, the new SBA maximum is $1 million. For loans that meet certain public policy goals, the new SBA maximum is $1.3 million.

Congress also raised the maximum size for loans under the SBA Microloan program to $35,000 and allowed SBA to continue expanding the number of lenders in the program to a maximum of 300. Congress also raised the limit for loans where the borrower also secures financing from another source. The previous limit for the combined loans was $75,000. The new limit is $105,000.

Polzin attends Arizona seminar

Justine Polzin, executive director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, recently completed a week-long professional development program at the Institute for Organization Management at the University of Arizona at Tucson. The program, presented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, builds skills to help chamber of commerce executives address the challenges of increased competition, greater member demands and tighter resources.

AHFC funding to benefit peninsula seniors

The Alaska Housing Finance Corp. recently awarded $11 million in housing development grants and funding, including $700,000 for Banner Health Systems in Soldotna, $472,182 for Homer Senior Citizens Inc., $20,000 for Cooper Landing Senior Citizens Inc. and $20,000 for Sterling Area Senior Citizens Inc.

FNBA reports strong earnings

First National Bank of Anchorage reported fourth-quarter earnings of $8.8 million, up from $7.1 million for the fourth quarter of 1999. Its year 2000 earnings were $31.3 million, up from $28.7 million in 1999.

"As we anticipated, we concluded this year by earning from our investments in buildings, technology and Alaskans," said D.H. Cuddy, president and chairman.

Mayor to address North Peninsula chamber

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley is today's speaker at the North Peninsula Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The speaker Jan. 25 is a representative of the Women's Resource & Crisis Center. Chamber luncheons are Thursdays at noon at the Lighthouse Inn.

Alaska USA names lending manager

Thomas W. Mason has been appointed senior vice president of real estate lending at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. He will oversee real estate lending at the credit union and support its affiliate mortgage companies -- Alaska USA Mortgage Co., Homestate Mortgage Co., Vista Mortgage Co. and Freedom Mortgage Co.

Mason, an honors graduate of Montana State University, has extensive financial experience. Most recently, he was senior vice president and controller at National Bank of Alaska and acted as the regional financial manager for Wells Fargo in Alaska. He has been a certified public accountant for 20 years.

Mason is on the board of the Alaska Chapter of the Financial Executive Institute and the advisory board of the Food Bank of Alaska. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Alaska Society of CPAs.

Cross Timbers to redeem preferred stockP>

Cross Timbers Oil Co. plans to redeem all outstanding shares of its Series A Convertible Preferred Stock (NYSE-XTOPRA) on Feb. 16 for $25.94 per share plus accrued and unpaid dividends.

Preferred shareholders may instead convert each preferred share into 3.24 shares of Cross Timbers common stock by Feb. 13, 2001. Upon conversion, cash will be paid in lieu of fractional shares based on the last reported NYSE sales price of Cross Timbers common stock. Accrued dividends will not be paid on preferred shares that are converted.

"With the outstanding performance of our common stock price, this convertible issue is deeply in the money," said Bob R. Simpson, chairman and chief executive. "Calling this issue improves and simplifies our balance sheet."

Homer chamber plans annual meeting

The Homer Chamber of Commerce holds its annual meeting Tuesday at noon at the Homer Elks Lodge. The agenda includes a review of last year, introduction of the new board of directors, a vote on proposed bylaw changes, reports from committees, an update from the North Pacific Volcano Learning Center Board and a review of the 2001 operating budget.

The bylaw changes would give the past president a vote on the board and give approval guidelines to any financial obligations the board might incur for the organization.

The luncheon is open to the public, but only chamber members may vote on business items. Standard membership is $125 per year. For more information, call 235-7740.

Soldotna chamber plans awards banquet

The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce plans its annual awards banquet Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Elks Lodge. Tickets are available from the chamber office.

North Peninsula chamber plans awards banquet

The annual awards banquet of the North Peninsula Chamber of Commerce is Feb. 3 at the Lighthouse Inn. No-host cocktails begin at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. The keynote speaker is Charles Pierce, vice president for Unocal Alaska.

Government contracting is workshop topic

The Small Business Development Center in Kenai and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center in Anchorage sponsor a workshop Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. titled "Cutting the Red Tape: Here's How." It will be held at the SBDC office at the Red Diamond Center on Kalifornsky Beach Road.

The workshop features bidders' list applications and points of contact for federal, state and local government. It covers finding opportunities, winning awards and successfully performing contracts.

There will be special emphasis on new government initiatives in electronic commerce as well as preference programs for small, small-disadvantaged, woman-owned and veteran-owned businesses. There will also be a discussion of the Historically Under-utilized Business Zone program, designed to increase government contract opportunities in areas of high unemployment and low median income.

Register by calling the SBDC at 262-7497 or the PTAC at (800) 478-7232.

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