Inside Alaska Business
ConocoPhillips Alaska

The Greater Mooses Tooth #2 drill site in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska achieved first oil on December 12, according to ConocoPhillips. The milestone arrives three years after first oil from Greater Mooses Tooth #1, eight miles to the northeast. Peak production is estimated at approximately 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, for a development cost of about $1.4 billion.

Oil Search | Santos

A pair of Southern Hemisphere oil companies with interests in the Far North are joining forces. Shareholders of Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search approved a merger with Australian firm Santos. The $6.1 billion deal gives Santos 61.5 percent control of the combined company. Oil Search acquired the Pikka project on the North Slope in 2018 and has since taken up residence in the former BP headquarters in Midtown Anchorage. Oil Search expects to begin producing from Pikka in 2025, and Santos has previously expressed support for the project. |

After bringing fifth-generation (5G) wireless coverage to Alaska’s most populous area, GCI next plans to expand service to the state’s richest industrial zone. A 5G network for the Prudhoe Bay area would enable WiFi-like data capacity at cellphone range, enhancing the remote monitoring and control of the sprawling oil fields. GCI activated its first 5G service in April 2020, covering Anchorage, and more sites are coming for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The telecom company expects 5G to be operational on the North Slope by the end of 2022.
Bering Straits Native Corporation (BSNC) acquired Central Environmental Inc. (CEI) and its four subsidiaries: Central Recycling Services, C.I. Contractors, Environmental Management Inc., and Concrete Coring Services. CEI is an Alaska-based, full-service integrated, general construction, demolition, utilities, and environmental company founded in 1984 by Stuart Jacques, who continues as CEI’s president. BSNC President and CEO Gail R. Schubert says, “We determined that CEI’s impressive capabilities and projects align well with BSNC’s growing portfolio of companies.”
Doyon Foundation
Episodes of the PBS cartoon series Molly of Denali are being translated into Native languages spoken in Interior Alaska, where the show is set. The Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program arranged for a new cast to record dialog in Gwich’in (also called Dinjii Zhuh K’yaa) at the KUAC public radio studio in Fairbanks. Their voices are being added to the episodes “King Run” and “Grandpa’s Drum.” A second cast is dubbing the episodes “Have Canoe Will Travel” and “Main Game” into Koyukon (or Denaakk’e). The series, produced by WGBH in Boston, is now in its second season.
Astra Space

The Alaska Aerospace Corporation’s first commercial customer at the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island finally achieved orbit. California-based Astra Space sent up its 43-foot, two-stage Launch Vehicle 0007 in November, carrying a test payload for the US Space Force. Three previous attempts to reach orbit fell short. That milestone achieved, Astra Space CEO Chris Kemp says the company intends to radically scale up its pace, building and launching one rocket per week by the end of 2022 and expanding launch sites beyond Kodiak.

The Roaming Root Cellar
For the first time, the state Division of Agriculture’s “Golden Carrot” award goes to a small business. The Roaming Root Cellar, a specialty food store in Fairbanks, wins the 2021 prize for commitment to Alaska Grown produce. Shop owner Erica Moeller opened the business in 2020, selling local vegetables and other products from a bus. By 2021, she opened a storefront. “By selling only Alaska Grown produce,” she says, “we provide a year-round platform for our producers and consumers to connect.” Since 2017, the award has gone to Fred Meyer, Carrs|Safeway, and Walmart stores in Palmer and Wasilla.