The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

News Briefs


December 6, 2017

Photo courtesy Leticia Chase via CVEA

The photo entitled "Mirrors" is one of the winners of Copper Valley Electric Association's annual photo contest and will be featured in co-op's Ruralite magazine.

Rain and snow

Yes - that was a lot of snow and rain.

The Alaska Avalanche Information Center reports that 15 inches of snow fell in Valdez last week - the bulk of which fell Dec. 3-4.

The town received 14 inches of snow during that storm; the water equivalent was .90 inches.

As 2017 races to an end, the new storm brings the annual precipitation up to 52.18 inches of rain for the year.

The center also reported a high temperature of 34 degrees, which occurred on Nov. 28. The low temperature for the week was a brisk 11 degrees, recorded on Dec. 2.

Slope jobs

(AP) The number of jobs in the Prudhoe Bay region dropped this year to the lowest levels since 2007, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The region had a record 13,485 jobs in March 2015, but lost a third of those after oil prices plummeted, Alaska's Energy Desk reported Wednesday.

Oil prices have gone up recently, but state economist Neal Fried said it's hard to predict whether the increase in prices will restore jobs.

"We're not quite sure whether those numbers are beginning to flatten out or not," Fried said. "We can't answer that question."

Fried said sectors such as fisheries, tourism and the military could help add jobs to the region - even if the oil industry doesn't start adding jobs again.

"It's not going to take a recovery in the oil sector to necessarily cause the recession to come to an end," Fried said. "There could be other industries that even are just growing marginally."

Fried estimated that in the first half of this year, more than 2,000 people lost their jobs in Alaska's oil sector.

Oil exploration

(AP) An Italian energy company has received permission to drill oil exploration wells in U.S. Arctic waters.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced Tuesday it approved an application from Eni (EN-ee) U.S. Operating Co. Inc. to drill in the Beaufort (BOH-fort) Sea.

Exploratory drilling could start next month.

The drilling will take place from Spy Island, a gravel artificial island near Prudhoe Bay.

Eni already has 18 production wells on the island and nearby onshore leases that extract oil from state lands.

Eni will use extended-reach drilling techniques to reach federal submerged lands.

Environmental groups oppose additional Arctic Ocean drilling.

Kristen Monsell of the Center for Biological Diversity in a statement says a major spill would threaten coastal communities and Arctic wildlife.

The winners

The photo contest winners in Copper Valley Electric Association's competition were announced this week.

For 11 years, CVEA has held a contest, giving photographers a chance to grace the cover of the electric cooperative industry magazine, Ruralite.

"Congratulations to Laura Stahley, Wayne McKinzey, Ed Pinsky, Leticia Chase, and Linnea Langseth," Sharon, Crisp, the cooperative's spokeswoman, said in an email Monday.

In total, 43 photos were submitted by nine CVEA members and several winners had more than one photo selected.

"After being narrowed to 22 finalists, a volunteer team of CVEA employees are given the photos without the photographers being identified, and are asked to vote on their top eight photos," Crisp said. "These votes were tallied to determine our winners. Winners will all receive $100 per photo and will be featured on the cover of Ruralite in 2017, and on CVEA's Facebook page and the (sic) cooperative's website."

No deal

(AP) The bidder who planned to purchase Alaska's ferry Taku and turn it into a waterfront hotel and restaurant in Oregon has backed out of the deal.

The sale of the 352-foot (107-meter) surplus vessel was expected to close in early December. But the winning bidder withdrew, citing factors such as regulatory problems in Portland, said Aurah Landau, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Facilities.

Valdez Star photo

Monday's rain on top of the 14 inches of snow that fell over the weekend created several rivulets on the roads - and lots of splashing as vehicles traveled the streets.

Portland resident Jonathan Cohen offered $300,000 for the ferry on behalf of KeyMar LLC in September, the Juneau Empire reported Friday. The group of investors planned to transform the mothballed ferry into a floating hotel at a pier in northwest Portland. Their bid was six times higher than the next bid.

The newspaper was unable to reach Cohen for a comment this week.

The state offered the ferry to the second and third highest bidders after the Portland group withdrew in November. The new winning bid of $171,000 was from Jabal Al Lawz Trading Est. of Dubai, Landau said. The deal is still being worked out as the final sales terms and agreements are negotiated, Landau said.

A company spokesman said Wednesday that the state had not given official notice on accepting their bid. The spokesman said the company plans give the ferry a new life in the Philippines.

The ferry, built in 1963, part of Alaska's ferry system for more than 50 years. It was taken out of service in June 2015 and moored in Ketchikan.


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