TAPS

A snowmachiner passes the Alyeska Pipeline Visitor Station along the Steese Highway near Fox as visitors take photos and read the information panels Tuesday afternoon, January 2, 2018. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) oil throughput from the North Slope is up for the second consecutive year.

Alaska North Slope oil prices rose above $70 per barrel Monday morning for the first time since September when attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure caused a sudden spike. As tensions rise between Iran and the U.S. following the killing of Iranian military General Qassem Soleimani last week, industry frets over a possible military conflict have spurred another spike. 

A United States drone strike killed Soleimani in Iraq late last week. What followed was a quick escalation with Iranian citizens calling for retaliation and U.S. President Donald Trump responding with swift Twitter threats of military response.

With both countries bracing for a possible declaration of war and industry officials fearing additional attacks on regional oil infrastructure, global oil prices have risen 5% since Soleimani’s killing.

As of Monday afternoon, Alaska North Slope crude prices sat at $70.42, rising more than $2.

The September attack on a Saudi oil site was quickly tagged as an Iranian effort to cripple countries — like the U.S — that largely rely on Middle Eastern oil production. Now officials are concerned Iran may target another oil and gas facilities in retribution for Soleimani’s killing.

“The market is concerned about the potential for retaliation, and specifically on energy and oil infrastructure in the region,” Antoine Halff, a Columbia University researcher and former chief oil analyst for the International Energy Agency, told The Associated Press. “If Iran chose to incapacitate a major facility in the region, it has the technical capacity to do so.”

Showing similar levels of concern, U.S based multinational energy mogul Chevron made the bold move of removing all of its American oil workers from Iraq after the killing last week, fearing heightened levels of animosity toward Americans in that region.

Alaska Oil and Gas Association President and CEO Kara Moriarty noted in a comment Monday that the current roller coaster in prices and projections only underlines the need for Alaska’s oil industry to remain strong and vibrant.

“The recent global unrest is a reminder there is no way to control or accurately predict oil price,” Moriarty said in a text message to the Daily News-Miner. “Prices go up and prices go down, but the state has to have competitive policies they can control.”

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.