JUNEAU — A spokesman for a Spanish oil and natural gas company said Wednesday it was due largely to Alaska’s stable politics and tax system that it’s decided to spend at least $768 million to explore the North Slope.
However the firm, Repsol, has no definitive timeline for spending that money, he said.
The company said it will conduct a joint venture with two other firms and plans to begin exploring for conventional oil next winter.
Company spokesman Kristian Rix stated by e-mail Wednesday the company wants to balance its international holdings, which in recent years have included investments in countries at risk of political instability.
“We wanted to balance our portfolio with assets which are in places that are stable in political and legislative terms and also where the exploration risk was lower ... ” Rix said. “Alaska fitted both these premises perfectly.”
News of the company’s investment follows a plan from another firm, Great Bear Petroleum, to explore and produce shale oil in Alaska.
Those plans would appear to help balance worries that investment here is drying up. Sen. Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks, said the two developments will prove certain factors as lawmakers debate the state’s plan to lower oil taxes. Paskvan stopped short, however, of predicting how the two proposals will influence debate.
Rix said the company’s $768 million exploration plan represents the “minimum” it expects to spend. “Depending on the results, extra spending would be allocated according to the needs identified,” he said.
Repsol said its partners are an affiliate of Armstrong Oil & Gas, known as 70, and GMT, both based in Denver. It said both have been active explorers on the North Slope and are two of its largest lease holders.