PUBLISHED: 5:25 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Croft wants to give oilfield to university
Faster development, royalty dollars for higher education are win-win

JUNEAU - Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, acted today to give the Point Thompson oil and gas unit on the North Slope to the University of Alaska.

His goals, Representative Croft said, were to give the university income of its own, and to engage the university in the push for oil and gas development at the Point Thompson unit. For its efforts, the university would receive all royalties, other than those deposited in the Alaska Permanent Fund, from oil and gas pumped from the unit.

"This bill is designed to give state land that hasn't been developed to someone who will develop it," said Representative Croft. "Point Thompson is the biggest example of valuable state land that has been locked up for years."

Representative Croft's amendment to the university lands bill, HB130, would have removed the list of controversial parcels set for transfer to the university and replaced them with the Point Thompson Unit, which has been under lease but undeveloped since 1978. Point Thompson's estimated rate of production is 75,000 barrels of oil a day and 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day.

"We (the state) haven't been able to get Exxon to develop Point Thompson for almost 30 years," said Representative Croft. "I want to get (University President) Mark Hamilton to help out by joining the fight."

Point Thompson has had 21 different Plans of Development since 1978, none of which resulted in actual development. In 2003, the Point Thompson leaseholders paid the state $940,000 to again extend their drilling deadlines.

"This plan will bring real jobs to Alaskans and real long-term funding for the university," said Representative Croft. "Giving them small campgrounds won't fund a university, for the university to live off the land in Alaska, it means oil."