State and local briefly

Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Slope crude price back above $30

JUNEAU -- High petroleum prices have been a pleasant surprise for state officials who estimate how much money the state will earn next year.

Oil prices reached three-month highs on world markets Tuesday. Alaska North Slope crude for delivery in July closed at $30.24 for delivery to the West Coast. The price also cracked the $30 level in March.

``Prices remain a lot higher than we thought they would,'' said Chuck Logsdon, chief oil economist in the Department of Revenue.

Alaska North Slope crude reached $32.30 per barrel on March 7, but drifted down to $24 per barrel by the time Revenue Commissioner Wilson Condon released the department's Spring 2000 revenue predictions on April 11.

The department projected an average market price for this year of $23.28 per barrel. Logsdon said actual revenue should be within pennies of that when tax returns are collected.

For the fiscal year that begins July 1, forecasters predicted oil at $22.76 per barrel. So far the average price for oil to be delivered in the new year has been near $25 per barrel, Logsdon said.

For every dollar in annual increase, the state earns another $65 million, narrowing the gap between petroleum earnings and spending and requiring that less be pulled from the Constitutional Budget Reserve to make up the difference.

Prices rose this week in part because buyers and sellers anticipate that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which meets next week in Vienna, may not increase production.

Permanent Fund value continues to rise

JUNEAU -The Alaska Permanent Fund just keeps on going and going.

Alaska's oil-wealth savings account once again increased during the first quarter of 2000, up to a market value of $28.3 billion on March 31 -- an increase of $1.2 billion since Dec. 31.

The five-year averaging of statutory net income now projects a dividend payout this fall of $1.2 billion, or $132 million more than last fall's record.

The permanent fund's U.S. equities portfolio led the increase with a 4.13 percent return. The fund realized gains of 2.42 percent on real estate, 2.38 percent on non-U.S. equities and 2.28 percent on U.S. fixed income, while losing .53 percent on foreign fixed income.

Fish barge, cargo ship collide

KETCHIKAN -- A fish-processing barge collided with a cargo ship near Seattle over the weekend and had to be towed to shallow water to keep it from sinking.

The 195-foot barge Lucky Buck, owned by Signature Seafoods of Seattle and used by the Southern Southeast Aquaculture Association, was struck by the 166-foot Bowfin in Admiralty Inlet, officials said.

The Bowfin was overtaking the barge when the two collided Saturday, opening a 5-by-12-foot hole in the Lucky Buck, said Aquaculture Association General Manger John Burke. No one was injured.

The barge was stabilized and will be towed to a shipping yard, Burke said. The Coast Guard is investigating the incident.

Floating dock gets tentative approval

KETCHIKAN -- An Alaska Cruises floating dock in Misty Fiords National Monument has received the initial go-ahead.

The state Division of Governmental Coordination has determined that the floating dock is consistent with the Alaska Coast Management Plan. Now the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Natural Resources will have to determine whether to approve permits for the float.

The float's proposed location is the south arm of Rudyerd Bay within the monument. Alaska Cruises uses the float as part of a tour operation to transfer passengers between floatplanes and a catamaran.

The company received permission to continue using the float during the application process, which began before the 1999 summer tourist season. The float originally was located at the head of Rudyerd Bay and was moved it to its present location this summer.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service have raised concerns about the effect of the dock on wildlife.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has said that floatplanes landing at the dock will be traveling over nesting pigeon guillemots, which might disturb the birds. Alaska Cruises said that the planes won't fly at low altitudes in that area.

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