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Gov. Sean Parnell plans to meet with heads of oil companies on 1st state-sponsored overseas trip

Posted: October 29, 2011 - 11:10pm

JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell is making his first state-sponsored trip overseas, meeting with the heads of major energy companies as he seeks to drum up more investment in Alaska.

Parnell told The Associated Press he plans to visit leaders of BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell and Eni SpA during what he calls an “investment mission” to Europe.

Parnell also is scheduled to join the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in meeting with seafood buyers and marketers in the United Kingdom. His office, however, did not release an itinerary.

Parnell said he’s going straight to the chief executives of the energy firms to let them know Alaska is serious about its economic future and wants them to invest more here. He said he wants to tell them about what the state is doing to improve the business climate and boost oil production, including his administration’s efforts to improve the permitting process and reduce oil production taxes.

“I want them to know that Alaska is serious about its economic future, that we want to create opportunity for Alaskans,” he said.

The governor’s tax plan stalled earlier this year in the Senate, with leading lawmakers saying they didn’t have the information they needed to make a sound policy call. Parnell plans to renew his push for changes in the upcoming session, which starts in January.

This trip is the latest in a series that Parnell or other members of his administration have made in a bid to tout the state’s development and investment potential. The state relies heavily on oil revenues to run, but oil production has been declining, and the governor has set an audacious goal of having 1 million barrels of oil a day flow through the trans-Alaska pipeline within a decade. An average of about 568,470 barrels a day has moved through the line so far this year.

The governor’s natural resources commissioner has been working to attract interest in huge lease sale this fall involving state lands and waters on the North Slope and in the Beaufort Sea. And earlier this year, Parnell traveled to Texas to try to secure an investment commitment from Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Parnell said the company later announced that it would do more exploration work in the state, and that he was told his visit made a difference.

“I will go wherever Alaskans can be benefited, throughout this world,” he said.

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