Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2001

State plans Cook Inlet oil and gas lease sale

The state's next Cook Inlet areawide oil and gas lease sale will be May 9 at 8:30 a.m., state Division of Oil and Gas officials said.

The sale covers 4.2 million acres within the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Anchorage.

The Department of Natural Resources found in January 1999 that the annual Cook Inlet sales are in the state's best interest. It issued a call for new information last September. The Division of Oil and Gas has issued a decision that none of the information received was new. Requests for reconsideration are due to Pat Pourchot, commissioner of Natural Resources, by Feb. 27. If the commissioner fails to act on those by March 9, they are considered to be denied for purposes of appeal to Superior Court.

The sale area runs from Homer to Houston and from the Aleutian Range to the Kenai and Chugach mountains. The sale will not include tracts identified by the National Marine Fisheries Service as important habitat for Cook Inlet beluga whales and covered by a stay from Alaska Superior Court Judge Sigurd Murphy.

The minimum bid is $5 per acre. Cook Inlet leases have a fixed royalty rate of 12.5 percent and a term of seven years.

Annual rent is $1 per acre for the first year. The rental rate increases by 50 cents per acre each subsequent year to a maximum of $3 per acre in the fifth and later years.

Tesoro reports record earnings

Tesoro Petroleum Corp. reported record 2000 net earnings of $73 million, or $1.75 per diluted share. On a comparable basis, its 1999 earnings were $32 million, or $0.62 per diluted share.

"These results represent the fifth consecutive year of increased earnings," said Bruce A. Smith, chairman, president and chief executive. "... After the disappointing results for the fourth quarter of 1999, we set a 2002 earnings-per-share goal of $1.86, which would triple our 1999 results. A number of factors, including our efforts to control costs and market products into higher-value channels of trade, enabled us to nearly achieve our three-year goal in the first year."

Refining and marketing segment operating profit for 2000 was a record $189 million, up more than 50 percent from 1999 due to higher refined product margins and record refinery throughput. Tesoro's refinery spread was $6.99 per barrel, up 21 percent from the prior year. Tight product inventories contributed to strong West Coast margins. Tesoro's systemwide throughput averaged 250 thousand barrels per day, up more than 6 percent from 1999.

Operating expenses were $437 million, up less than 10 percent from 1999. The increase was due mainly to higher refinery throughput and increased utility and fuel costs.

Tesoro's annual stockholder meeting is May 23 in Denver.

Alyeska plans major maintenance

The company that runs the Trans Alaska Pipeline plans to spend $221 million for pipeline projects above and beyond baseline maintenance. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. will spend $72 million for major maintenance, $69 million for capital projects and $80 million for projects to maintain pipeline integrity, safety and reliability.

Alyeska also plans to centralize maintenance. Under the new system, traveling teams under a single manager will maintain the pipeline and pump stations. Before, maintenance workers based at each pump station worked under the supervision of the pump station managers.

Ford promotes child booster seats

Ford Motor Co. has awarded $35,000 in booster seats to the Alaska Injury Prevention Center in Anchorage as part of a campaign to promote awareness and proper use of booster and child safety seats.

The Alaska Injury Prevention Center and Alaska SAFE KIDS will distribute the booster seats in Anchorage, Kenai, Seward, Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla and Palmer, where three-quarters of Alaska's population resides.

Ford's contribution is part of a national Boost America! campaign promoting the use of booster seats for children weighing from 40 to 80 pounds, generally those from 4 to 8 years old.

Booster seats raise children so that adult belts fit them better, with lap belts riding low across the hips and pelvis and shoulder belts across the chest. Safety experts say children who have outgrown infant and toddler safety seats should use booster seats until adult seat belts fit them properly. However, few children now use booster seats.

U.S. Chamber recognizes pro-business votes

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently gave Alaska Sens. Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens 2000 Spirit of Enterprise awards for their strong support of pro-business legislation. The awards go to members of Congress who support the chamber's positions on at least 70 percent of key votes. There were key votes last year on granting permanent normal trade relations to China, bankruptcy reform, repealing the estate tax and rejecting the Clinton administration's new government procurement rule.

Bakery offers classes

Harvest Traditions Bakery in Soldotna plans classes Saturday on making soups and stocks, March 10 on making Irish breads and scones, March 24 on making breads for Easter and other special occasions, April 28 on making muffins and non-yeast breads. Classes are Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. To register, call 260-9230.

Youth EnviroBiz club formed

A group called Youth EnviroBiz has formed with adult mentors and 4H Club sponsorship to launch teen business projects. Regular meetings will begin shortly. Call Andrea at 262-2365 for information.

Phillips declares dividend

Phillips Petroleum Co. has declared a quarterly dividend of 34 cents per share, payable March 1 to stockholders of record on Feb. 21.

Phillips promotes Meyers

Phillips Petroleum Co. has promoted Kevin Meyers, senior vice president of Alaska production and operations, to executive vice president of Alaska production and operations. Meyers, 47, continues as president and chief executive of Phillips Alaska Inc. He was president and chief executive of Arco Alaska Inc. and senior vice president of Atlantic Richfield Co. when Phillips bought Arco's Alaska assets last April.

Regulatory commission plans move

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska will move to 701 West Eighth Ave., Suite 300, in Anchorage on March 27. Its telephone and fax numbers will not change.

MMS releases Cook Inlet study

The U.S. Minerals Management Service has released a report titled "Mapping Cook Inlet Rip Tides Using Local Knowledge and Remote Sensing," based on observations of Cook Inlet fishers and remote sensing. The information it contains could help federal managers prevent conflicts between fishers and offshore oil and gas activities.

The service also released a report titled "Aerial Surveys of Endangered Whales in the Beaufort Sea, Fall 1998-1999," describing the distribution, abundance, migrations and behavior of bowhead whales. The report also maps distributions of other marine mammals.

Obtain free copies of the reports by calling (800) 764-2627 or 271-6438.

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