Alaska's political and business leaders had a chance Wednesday to meet BP America's new president -- and she didn’t mince words.

Susan Dio, a Houston-based division head for oil giant BP, addressed the Resource Development Council during its annual membership luncheon at the Dena’ina Center. More than 200 people paid rapt attention to her message about Alaska’s future for oil and gas development.

The bottom line: Don’t touch the oil taxes.

Dio said despite a global push for lower-carbon energy, fossil fuels will still play a vital role – and Alaska is poised to contribute. It’s being accomplished throughout the state, she said.

Her examples included enhanced oil recovery in Prudhoe Bay that have kept production levels constant for three straight years; the recent opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for exploration and BP’s partnership with Alaska to advance a liquefied natural gas export project.

Dio says a strong and growing industry presence requires consistent regulatory policy, which means no new taxes.

She cited the Legislature’s refusal to advance several oil tax bills that called for an increase as critical to predictable, stable policy.

“BP is greatly encouraged that during the recent legislative session, Alaska policymakers rejected tax increases and continued to promote a sound investment climate,” she said.

Dio reiterated this when discussing the global natural gas market and the $43 billion AKLNG project, which wants to ship North Slope gas down an 800-mile pipeline for export to Asian markets.

“I believe no single fuel is more important to the global energy transition than natural gas,” she said. “Over the long term, gas can provide essential back up generation for renewables like solar and wind, helping them produce energy even when it’s not sunny and windy.”

Later, she addressed the AKLNG project, and the recently announced agreement with the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

“To help Alaska’s LNG compete, the state needs to continue providing a stable tax and regulatory framework that encourages investment and innovation,” she said. “Again, good policy really matters.”

Earlier during her Alaska trip, Dio met with Gov. Bill Walker, who said he appreciated her assessment of the state’s prospects beyond oil.

“I maybe heard it differently than others, but a lot of reference to AKLNG, a lot of reference to natural gas, a lot of reference to Alaska’s opportunity, our location,” said Walker, who later signed a bill to sell up to $1 billion in bonds to pay off outstanding credits to the oil industry. “I couldn’t be more pleased with her speech today.”

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