Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, November 09, 2000

Tax seminar for professionals

The Internal Revenue Service invites Alaska tax professionals to a free tax seminar Nov. 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Z.J. Loussac Library in Anchorage. Officials will discuss the reorganized IRS, service center changes, collection issues, abusive trusts, earned income credit and electronic filing. The seminar is worth six hours of CPE credits for enrolled agents. No advance registration is required.

Prudhoe plant wins top health and safety rating

The Central Power Station BP operates at Prudhoe Bay has received the highest possible safety and health rating from the voluntary protection program of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Alaska Occupational Safety and Health Section.

Central Power is the first industrial plant in Alaska to receive the program's highest rating, BP said. The program rewards companies that have demonstrated health and safety excellence with a high degree of self-regulation. Last year, Central Power achieved Merit status, meaning it required annual state inspections. Its new Star rating means the state will inspect on a three-year schedule.

Tesoro third-quarter earnings rise

Tesoro Petroleum Corp. reported third-quarter net earnings from continuing operations of $25 million, up from $23 million during the third quarter last year.

Tesoro reported operating profit from its refining and marketing segment of $61.2 million, up from $57.1 million for the third quarter last year. It credited stronger refined product margins, marketing initiatives and higher throughput.

However, improved margins were partially offset by an $18.8 million decline in nonrefinery profits from product and crude oil marketing. There were greater profit opportunities last year due to supply disruptions. Operating expenses rose by $9.7 million, primarily due to higher utility costs and Washington tax expenses. General and administrative costs rose by $3.4 million, primarily due to higher employee costs.

For the nine months that ended Sept. 30, Tesoro reported net earnings from continuing operations of $48.9 million, down from $55.8 million for the same period last year.

"This was a strong quarter for the company. Refining margins in the Western U.S. were very high, reflecting the tightness of supply and refining capacity in that region. We capitalized on these conditions by operating our refineries at historically high rates, even with a turnaround in Hawaii in September," said Bruce A. Smith, chairman, president and chief executive. "Nevertheless, there were several negative factors that impacted the quarter, including exceptionally high shipping rates, high utility costs and increased taxes based on product value. "

Cloud Nine has new office

Cloud Nine Professional Real Estate has moved to a new office in the Benco Building at 11355 Frontage Road, Suite 100A in Kenai, across the hall from Easy Travel. The telephone is 283-2745.

Symphony of Seafood entries sought

The annual Alaska Symphony of Seafood contest has put out its call for 2001 products. Food companies from any country can enter new retail, food service or gift items that demonstrate new value-added seafood ideas, have been on the market for less than two years and meet Alaska-caught criteria.

Entry forms are due to the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation by Dec. 13. Judging will be at the Westin Alyeska Prince Hotel on Jan. 26. Entries will be evaluated for flavor, texture, overall eating experience and perceived market value. Judges include experienced seafood buyers, editors of major seafood publications, seafood marketing experts and known chefs.

First-place winners in each category will receive prizes including free transportation, admission and exhibit space at the International Boston Seafood Show in March.

The public can sample entries and vote for the People's Choice awards during Jan. 27 festivities at the Fourth Avenue Theater in Anchorage.

Seminar offered for the self-employed

The Business Opportunities Network sponsors a free session with Kris Erickson on marketing and advertising for the self-employed today at noon at the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. For information, call 260-2663.

Peninsula Center Mall hosts crafts fair

The Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna hosts a crafts and products fair Nov. 24-25 with the theme Gifts from the Forests and Fields. An exhibit of theme products begins two weeks before the fair. During the fair, there will be craft demonstrations and sessions on Internet marketing for beginners. Fair participants will be listed on the Web site. Several students in the FastTrac Entrepreneurial Training Program of the Peninsula Job Center will participate in conjunction with a market feasibility study for their products and services.

Fair sponsors include Entrepreneurs Corner, Kenai Peninsula Resources Conservation & Development District, Homer Soil and Water Conservation District, Alaska Harvester Inc. and the Peninsula Center Mall. For information, call Mark Weatherstone at the RC&D at 283-7493 or visit

Job center can help employers

The Peninsula Job Center offers many services employers may not have realized, including interview rooms, a computer lab and skills training. Learn more at an open house Nov. 16 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Open house activities include presentations on wage and hour laws, tax credits, job training, services available at the job center and more.

McDonald's wins EPA recognition

McDonald's USA has received the WasteWise Partner of the Year award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to recognize its commitment to solid waste reduction. EPA cited McDonald's recycling record and its efforts to find the most efficient available packaging materials.

Last year, McDonald's bought more than 300,000 tons of paper products made from recycled materials. It saved 3,200 tons of paper and cardboard by replacing sandwich containers with sandwich wraps and eliminated 1,100 tons of cardboard by switching to lighter drink cups.

Petro Star studies sulfur-removal process

Petro Star Inc., an Anchorage refiner, has received $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to help fund a $2.2 million project in Valdez to test technology for removing sulfur from petroleum liquids. Petro Star and its partners will contribute $900,000 to the 18-month project.

Gas-to-liquids conference planned

The Alaska Science and Technology Foundation has signed on as a co-host for the gas-to-liquids conference in Girdwood next June. The sixth annual Natural Gas Conversion Symposium will be the first one held in North America.

Fish commission to coordinate salmon research

Members of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, which includes Japan, Russia, Canada and the United States, agreed last month to coordinate Bering Sea salmon, juvenile salmon and winter salmon research efforts.

"What is so important about this meeting is that they are taking it to the next level of coordination. Before, each country did its own research," said Sally Rue, special assistant to Alaska Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, president of the NPAFC.

The commission's science committee meets in March, she said.

"What we would like to see is for them to get together earlier so that by the time they meet in March, they have something substantive that lays out how they are going to do it," she said.

North American and Asian salmon intermix during summer in the Bering Sea and during winter in the North Pacific Ocean, the commission said. Bering Sea conditions changed dramatically in the 1990s, and there were extreme fluctuations in the growth and abundance of some stocks. A growing body of evidence suggests that environmental change affects salmon production, the commission said.

"Early marine growth and survival of juvenile salmon are often related to climate-induced changes in distribution and abundance of predatory and prey populations," the commission said. "Understanding these relationships will enhance the ability to forecast run sizes and will facilitate the conservation and sustainable management of salmon in the North Pacific. Questions about ocean migration, distribution, intermixing of stocks, associated effects on growth rates, overall carrying capacity of the marine environment and the need for international baselines to identify stock origins of salmon are major research issues faced by all the NPAFC member nations."

Commission members also coordinate high-seas enforcement efforts. Rue said member nations have been urging China and Korea to join the commission. South Korea has expressed interest in joining, she said.

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