Old oil find sees new life — BlueCrest revives Cosmo Unit development

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

In the Cosmopolitan Unit off Anchor Point, it appears that the sixth time’s the charm. BlueCrest Energy is full-speed ahead with an ambitious development plan on its enticing prospects at the site.

Larry Burgess, health, safety and environmental manager for the relatively new independent on the Cook Inlet oil and gas scene, said at a Kenai Chamber of Commerce presentation Wednesday that first oil is expected by second quarter of next year.

“Probably sometimes in April of next year, which is very aggressive since there are no buildings on the site or anything right now other than some gravel and some piles that we’re driving right now,” Burgess said.

BlueCrest is the sixth producer to attempt to make good on the Cosmo Unit’s promise, following Penzoil, which discovered the field in the 1960s, ARCO Alaska, which became Phillips, and then ConocoPhillips, Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska and Apache Corporation. BlueCrest and a partner acquired two leases from Pioneer, and BlueCrest picked up three more from Apache in 2013.

And that partner?

“Now, I’m going to mention the partner, but I don’t want anybody to throw anything at me. That partner was Buccaneer,” he said.

Following its financial troubles, Buccaneer sold its 25 percent share in the project, making BlueCrest the 100 percent owner. But before its financial implosion and withdrawal from Cook Inlet, Buccaneer drilled a delineation well at the Cosmo Unit that proved quite promising.

“That single well that they drilled through the heart of the formation discovered several different pay zones of which was not known about before,” Burgess said.

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Kayakers flip, truck slips into Kasilof river

Photo courtesy of Paul Gauthier. A pickup truck slid into the Kasilof River and became lodged at the Sterling Highway Bridge on Sunday afternoon.

Photos courtesy of Paul Gauthier. A pickup truck slid into the Kasilof River and became lodged at the Sterling Highway Bridge on Sunday afternoon.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Trouble came as a pair Sunday afternoon on the Kasilof River. Two kayakers flipped their boats around 4 p.m., followed shortly thereafter by a truck going for a swim at the boat launch just upstream from the Sterling Highway bridge.

Joshua Thompson, an engineer with Central Emergency Services, said no one was hurt in either incident. CES launched its rescue boat and picked up a female kayaker from the sand bar on which she’d ended up, while a drift boat reportedly retrieved her male companion. Thompson said the CES crew checked the scene at the boat launch but found no one in the water, as the owner of the truck was able to rescue himself.

Paul Gauthier lives about a mile and a half upstream from the bridge. He and a friend were doing some house painting when they spotted something odd floating downstream.

“What I saw was some movement, just another boat floating down the river. But my friend said, ‘What is that? It looks like ice.’ And I saw an inflaitable raft rowing after this thing. I said, ‘It looks like a cooler.’ Then I looked at it and said, ‘Oh, nope, it’s a kayak,’” Gauthier said.

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Get hooked on good fishing safety

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Fishing involves some level of risk. It’s assumed to be for the catch, but the catcher should take precautions to avoid hooks themselves, just as they hope the fish don’t.

Bears can be a big hulking concern, but it is far more likely that anglers will be hurt by a wild cast of their own tackle, or that of a nearby fishermen, than by wildlife.

“The end of July and throughout August is when we really start to see them. Most of the injuries are on men, simply because more men are out fishing, but we see a lot of injuries to women, too,” said Camille Sorensen, marketing manager at Central Peninsula Hospital.

The bulk of injuries happen as a result of fishing in close proximity to others, but Sorensen said that many of the fishing-related wounds the hospital sees are self-inflicted.

“There are a lot of hooks to the hands, face and head, but more damaging injuries are from the weights, not the hooks themselves,” she said.

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Road project to add new traffic signals

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Kalifornsky Beach Road from Bridge Access Road in Kenai to the Sterling Highway intersection in Soldotna will get an upgrade next summer. A project now in the final design phase by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities includes resurfacing the 6.2-mile stretch of road, making modifications at Bridge Access and Poppy Lane intersections, and adding traffic lights at Ciechanski Road and Gas Well Road.

“We’re planning to get this to construction for summer in 2016. I think the construction will only take one summer. There might be some minor cleanup items, maybe some seeding or some other things that they might need to come back and finish up next year, but it should be a one-season project,” said Cynthia Ferguson, project manager with ADOT.

Ferguson said they’re in the public comment phase, looking for people to share their experience on that road. The project team held on open house July 14 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

“We’re finishing up our design. We’re getting some great feedback at the meeting here, and we’ll go back and consider those comments and finalize our design. … So it’s basically anything folks have a concern about or they’d like to have looked at we’re interested in getting their information about that,” she said.

The two new traffic signals will be the biggest change to the road. There are many reasons why DOT might add signals to an intersection. At both Ciechanski and Gas Well, the issue is capacity, where the volume of turning traffic is so high it causes backups on side streets.

“We do look at all the intersections statewide and rank them for ones that need signals. So part of that ranking, these two, at Gas Well and Ciechanski, were near the top of that list, so that’s how they came to be incorporated in the project,” Ferguson said.

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Kenai loosens residency requirement

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

How Kenai must you be in order to have a role in making decisions for the city?

The Kenai City Council on Wednesday redefined its answer in loosening the requirement for serving on the planning and zoning commission to allow up to two of the seven seats to be filled by nonresidents who either own property or a controlling interest in a business in the city.

Making the change to allow nonresidents on the commission involved a philosophical discussion over how much weight to give one’s home address.

Vice Mayor Brian Gabriel said he thinks there’s a large number of Kenai business owners, living outside the city, who would like to serve on the commission.

“There’s many other cities within the state and across the country that do allow nonresidents from their corporate and city boundaries (to serve) on the planning and zoning. They’re invested community, and I don’t think considering their input is a bad thing,” Gabriel said.

Council member Tim Navarre has been a near lifelong Kenai resident, yet serves on various committees outside the city. Where one lives isn’t the only qualification dictating where one’s interests lie, and he thinks the city should be open to the involvement of those who invest here, not just live here.

“I see that the city of Kenai is open for business is willing to involve people because our city wouldn’t be as great as it is if we didn’t have people from all around peninsula that not only work, invest in our city and everything else,” Navarre said.

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Plugged In: Good as new? Try good enough with old quality

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

Most interchangeable-lens cameras made in the past two or three years are more than sufficient for serious and professional photography. Despite that, many photographers like to compare their existing gear with the newest models.

In an era of good-enough photo gear, though, improving your technique and aesthetics provides more benefit while costing little or nothing. Even so, there’s been a rash of photo gear newly and unexpectedly introduced over the past few months.

Panasonic’s been on a roll lately, introducing a wide variety of highly regarded new cameras and lenses, including the GX8 rangefinder-styled Micro Four-Thirds camera, and the FZ300, a revised, large-sensor, superzoom model. Panasonic has two major photographic rivals, Olympus within the Micro Four-Thirds arena, and Sony more generally.

It’s been said that Panasonic and Sony are major consumer electronics companies that make cameras as just one more flavor of consumer electronics. There’s a difference, though. Until recently, Sony approached digital photography like an electronics company, regularly introducing a wide variety of cameras laden with new electronic features and incompatible lens mounts but lacking an adequate range of quality optics. Despite its long-standing alliance with Zeiss, one of Germany’s top optical manufacturers, Sony traditionally lagged its competitors optically.

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Fishing for a smooth season — Dip-net prep starts long before the fish, people show up

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. City of Kenai workers were busy last week preparing for the start of the dip-net fishery Friday. The crowds of dip-netters show up overnight, but the services needed to manage them take considerable time, money and planning to put in place.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. City of Kenai workers were busy last week preparing for the start of the dip-net fishery Friday. The crowds of dip-netters show up overnight, but the services needed to manage them take considerable time, money and planning to put in place.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

As sockeye salmon return to the Kenai River in July, so, too, do crowds of dip-netters seeking to catch their share. But while the people show up overnight, the fishery doesn’t come together that fast. Prep work begins before the first late-run fish hit the fresh water.

Come the 6 a.m. July 10 opening of the Alaska resident dip-net fishery on the Kenai, the place was humming with hundreds of boats, vehicles and people, seeking their share of the tens of thousands of sockeye salmon that pass through the sandy, silty, windy transition of Cook Inlet and the river each day.

“On our busiest day we’ll see up to 15,000 — that’s in boats and on the north beach and south beach,” said Kenai City Manager Rick Koch. “You think, ‘Gosh, that’s just an incredible number,’ but you think of 600 boats out there during the course of the day, you put four people in a boat, that’s 2,400 people already.”

Kenai has the dubious honor of managing the most popular location of the state’s personal-use dip-net fishery.

“Things have become significantly more routine as it relates to keeping beaches clean, making sure we have enough portable toilets, Dumpsters, parking spaces are well defined, trying to moving people through — those things over the last five to six years we’ve got handle on, being event people. It’s sort of like Wrigley Field and 40,000 of you and your closest friends show up for a few hours. We’ve become event coordinators, and I think our personnel have done a very good job at undertaking those responsibilities, but every year there’s always something new,” Koch said.

Work began far in advance of the Friday opening. On Thursday, the beaches were busy with city workers doing last-minute preparations.

“Restroom cleaning, putting up fence to keep people off the dunes, picking up trash, cleaning up, whatever needs doing,” said Larry Hull, with the Kenai Parks and Rec Department.

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