Alaska's investment climate may be warmer than the weather, according to BP's Director of Public Affairs, Paul Laird. In remarks before the Soldotna Rotary Club recently Laird said many factors have come together to create a very favorable investment climate including stability in the oil and gas industry, high energy prices in the lower 48, and a strong new player with Phillips Petroleum on the North Slope. However, Laird stressed the need for industry to work together with the State of Alaska toward win/win solutions in overcoming any obstacles that might threaten investment opportunities. "In the past four to five years we have seen a dramatic improvement in the relationship between the oil industry and the state of Alaska. Part of what ushered that in was Governor Knowles' Alaska is open for business initiative," said Laird. Optimism about the future seems to be higher than it has been in the last twelve or so years according to Liard.
Optimism in the public's opinion regarding the oil and gas industry also seems to increasing with polls indicating that the two greatest concerns among Alaskans are protection of the environment during development and the hiring of Alaskans by the industry. Liard said that on the North Slope the industry has reduced the size of the development footprint by more than 50% since Prudhoe Bay was discovered. Those environmental improvements are being brought to the Nikiski area where BP is developing their new Gas to Liquids facility. In terms of Alaska hire, 86% of BP's work force now lives in Alaska, and that represents a 5% improvement in just the last year, according to Laird. On the Nikiski project it is expected that 90% of the construction workforce will be Alaska residents and the permanent operators will all be Alaska residents. "Of the two major issues expressed by Alaskans, environmental protection and local hire, we are putting a great deal of effort into addressing those concerns in everything we do," concluded Laird.
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