Alaska North Slope crude tops $90 a barrel, and Alaskans wonder if they can now have their Permanent Fund dividends

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For the first time since the price crash of 2014, oil from Alaska’s North Slope is selling for more than $90 a barrel. Today’s posted price is $90.51.

While commodities fluctuate with supply and demand cycles, the trend has been upward for a few years. Alaska oil hit a low point of about $30 a barrel in 2016, and had climbed to $55.56 in January of 2021.

The State’s fall forecast for the 2023 budget, which is the spending plan that starts in July, had a prediction of $71 a barrel.

In the January, 2022 Short-Term Energy Outlook published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, predicted crude oil prices will sag later in the year, although they show no sign of doing so.

“We forecast that the price of Brent will average $75/b in 2022 and $68/b in 2023,” the agency wrote on Jan. 12.

The predicted decline in prices will be driven by a shift from global inventory declines last year to inventory increases in 2022 and 2023.

The Alaska Legislature is keeping an eye on the price of oil, as it crafts the budget for the coming year and looks to balance the desire from special interests for higher spending on state projects and programs, with the looming requirement that the Constitutional Budget Reserve must be restored. The Legislature has been “borrowing” from that fund for several years, and is required by statute to pay it back.

Statute also requires a Permanent Fund dividend, to be paid by a lawful formula. There will also be pressure from Alaskans for the Legislature to return to the lawful formula and pay the Permanent Fund dividend in full this year.

The public may see the State of Alaska reaping all the benefit from the higher oil prices, while families watch their incomes being eroded in real time and not getting help from lawmakers to pay for heating oil and gas for their vehicles.

The Alaska Legislature also has to confront something it hasn’t done in a decade: How to handle having more money coming in than going out. When the money wasn’t there, legislators were able to lean on the argument that there is a structural deficit with a Permanent Fund dividend of any size, and therefore the lawful dividend was unsustainable.

Now, with a surplus of money, pro-dividend Alaskans wonder if they are getting the shaft, while the Legislature protects its profits during what will likely be an “up year” for oil prices.

Even with the high price of oil, income tax bills are being considered this year by Democrats, including Senate Bill 154.

17 COMMENTS

  1. BS Stedman and others turncoats in the legislature are already making the argument that we can’t afford a full PFD.

  2. Reality check:

    We Alakans will get our full, prescribed by law, dividend WHEN the lawlesslature has been purged and once again becomes OUR legislature.

    Until then mask up, shut up and sit down.,

  3. It could over two hundred per barrel, we ain’t getting any more money. Full dividends are gone, get used to it.

  4. At current prices per gallon in LA (5.26), I would say yes, but we all know the PFD has/will be forever been subject to pilfering. Thanks, Walker. Snake!

  5. Sorry no full PFD last year due to low price of oil.
    Sorry no full PFD this year due to stock market crash.

  6. The Senate may be considering implementing a state tax but that is effectively what they have been doing thanks to the Walker administration and the legislature supporting his sketchy plans, including indebting us to the Chinese Communist Party for years. Taxing our families the equivalent of our halved PFDs is not just a violation of the State Statute, it is a fraud perpetrated on the Alaskan people. Some larger families have had stolen the equivalent cost of a new home. It isn’t just a reallocation of funds. It is a blatant tax on all of us.

  7. I am a former Sitka resident, I know BS and I believe he has become a power hungry egomaniac, next I think he will support Walker. he had to cozy a relationship with Giessel.

  8. Bill Walker will never allow a full statutory PFD, or anything over $1000 if he was the governor. He wants the state bureaucrats, the Democrats, and the unions to get the money. Bill Walker is an enemy of the PEOPLE. Corrupt and dishonest to the core.

  9. Haha. Everyone knows the lobbyists and special interests are putting together their wishlists right now. Those piggies will eat up all the surplus and demand an income tax at the same time.

  10. We let the legislature take it for years with hardly any pushback. Why would they give it back now? The time to resist is right in the beginning of the first inkling of government overreach.

    • Your last point is entirely true, Dee, but doing so will invariably elicit normalcy-biased responses of “overreaction” and “exaggeration” from center-thinking sheep like Evan Singh, Frank Rast and John Seymour.

  11. The legislature knows better than you and won’t give you the full statutory permanent fund dividend since most of them think it is an entitlement for the public. June 2021 Natasha von Imhof’s (Anchorage Senator Districk “L”) tirade last year says it all: “But, no, here we are … debating a dividend. The greed and the entitlement is astounding to me. I just don’t fathom it,” she said. “My father is at home dying of cancer, and I am here, listening to the biggest crock of crap I’ve ever heard.”

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