USEITI logo
Explore data /

Alaska

Land ownership

Natural resource extraction varies widely from state to state. In Alaska, extractive industries accounted for 19.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, and jobs in the extractive industries made up 5.2% of statewide employment.

Natural resource ownership in the U.S. is closely tied to land ownership. Land can be owned by citizens, corporations, Indian tribes or individuals, or governments (for instance, federal, state, or local governments). Many USEITI datasets only cover natural resource extraction on federal land, which represents 61.2% of all land in Alaska.

Alaska also borders an offshore area with significant natural resource extraction, which may contribute to the state’s economy. For production and revenue data about offshore extraction near Alaska, see offshore Alaska.

The state of Alaska chose to participate in an extended USEITI reporting process, so this page includes additional state revenue and disbursements data, as well as contextual information about state governance of natural resources.

To understand the extractive industries in Alaska, learn about Alaska’s unique land ownership, trust funds, and revenue sustainability considerations.

For a detailed view of how oil extraction affects communities in Alaska, read the North Slope Borough case study.

Production

Energy production: The U.S. Energy Information Administration publishes a profile of energy production and usage in Alaska.

Alaska ranks among the top five states in the U.S. for production of:

  • Natural gas: #3 in the nation (9% of U.S. production)
  • Crude oil: #4 in the nation (5% of U.S. production)

Most of Alaska’s crude oil production takes place in the North Slope Borough, where exploration, drilling, and transportation costs are high, but high volume and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline make commercial drilling feasible.

About three-fourths of Alaska’s natural gas withdrawals are consumed on site after extraction, because it is not commercially feasible to transport to distant markets. For more information about the Alaska Natural Gas pipeline, see the congressional report (PDF).

Nonenergy minerals: For details about nonenergy mineral extraction, see the USGS Minerals Yearbook for Alaska.

In 2012, Alaska’s nonenergy mineral production was valued at about $3.69 billion. Metals, including gold, made up 98% of Alaska’s nonenergy mineral production value in 2012. Alaska produces 14% of U.S. gold, with major gold mines in central Alaska, southern Alaska, and the Seward Peninsula. Learn more about gold exploration.

The Energy Information Administration collects data about all energy-related natural resources produced on federal, state, and privately owned land.
Data and documentation

Coal

0 short tons of coal were produced in Alaska in 2015.

Hydroelectric

1,542,298 megawatt hours of hydroelectric energy were produced in Alaska in 2015.

Crude oil

176,240,000 barrels of crude oil were produced in Alaska in 2015.

Natural gas

3,175,163,000 mcf of natural gas were produced in Alaska in 2015.

Other biomass

59,068 megawatt hours of other biomass energy were produced in Alaska in 2015.

Wind

158,235 megawatt hours of wind energy were produced in Alaska in 2015.

Wood-derived fuel

0 megawatt hours of wood-derived fuel energy were produced in Alaska in 2015.

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue collects detailed data about natural resource production on federal land in Alaska.
Data and documentation

Gas

14,188,599 mcf of gas were produced on federal land in Alaska in 2015.

Borough or census area production

Kenai Peninsula Borough North Slope Borough Kenai Peninsula Borough North Slope Borough
Borough or census area production of gas in 2015 (mcf)

Oil

958,054 barrels of oil were produced on federal land in Alaska in 2015.

Borough or census area production

Kenai Peninsula Borough North Slope Borough Kenai Peninsula Borough North Slope Borough
Borough or census area production of oil in 2015 (bbl)

We don’t have detailed data about production of natural resources on land owned by the state of Alaska. See state governance for information about governance of state land.

Revenue

Companies pay a wide range of fees, rates, and taxes to extract natural resources in the United States. What companies pay to federal, state, and local governments often depends on who owns the natural resources.

Natural resource extraction can lead to federal revenue in two ways: non-tax revenue and tax revenue. Most USEITI data is about non-tax revenue from extractive industry activities on federal land.
Data and documentation

Revenue from production on federal land by resource

When companies extract natural resources on federal lands and waters, they pay royalties, rents, bonuses, and other fees, much like they would to any landowner. This non-tax revenue is collected and reported by the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR).

For details about the laws and policies that govern how rights are awarded to companies and what they pay to extract natural resources on federal land: coal, oil and gas, renewable resources, and hardrock minerals.

The federal government collects different kinds of fees at each phase of natural resource extraction. This chart shows how much federal revenue was collected in 2015 for production or potential production of natural resources on federal land in Alaska, broken down by phase of production.

Commodity 1. Securing rights 2. Before production 3. During production Other revenue
Oil and Gas
Oil & Gas
$19,667,332
$658,978 $4,291,632 Oil $4,752,532 Gas $9,586,074 NGL $101,509 $276,607
Geothermal
Geothermal
$7,680
$0 $7,680 $0 $0
All commodities
All commodities
$19,675,012
$658,978 $4,299,312 $14,440,115 $276,607

Most non-tax revenue collected by ONRR comes from counties with significant natural resources on federal land.
Data and documentation

All commodities

Companies paid $19,675,012 to produce natural resources on federal land in Alaska in 2015.

Revenue collected by Borough or census area

Bristol Bay Kenai Peninsula North Slope Bristol Bay Kenai Peninsula North Slope
Borough or census area revenue in 2015

Federal tax revenue

Individuals and corporations (specifically C-corporations) pay income taxes to the IRS. Depending on company income, federal corporate income tax rates can range from 15–35%. Public policy provisions, such as tax expenditures, can decrease corporate income tax and other revenue payments in order to romote other policy goals.

Learn more about revenue from extraction on all lands and waters.

Alaska relies on revenue from natural resource extraction on federal, state, and private land as a primary source of income for the state.

Alaska collects oil and gas production taxes and royalties based on the assessed value of the gross product, resulting in revenues sensitive to price fluctuations.

Alaska deducts property taxes paid to municipalities from the amount owed in state taxes. The state collects and retains all property taxes assessed on unorganized lands. In 2015, unorganized territory petroleum property taxes totaled $75 million, or 60% of the total petroleum property taxes collected by the state.

Download: Alaska revenue streams (PDF)

In 2015, the state of Alaska collected $2,568,248,186 in state revenue from natural resource extraction (this includes both tax and non-tax revenue). Counties also collect and distribute their own revenue from natural resource extraction.

State revenue stream Amount collected
Total $2,568,248,186
Royalties, Rents and Bonuses $1,745,500,000
Oil & Gas Production Tax $515,859,408
Oil & Gas Property Tax $125,194,434
Petroleum Corporate Income Tax $108,689,221
Mining License Tax $38,655,179
Mining Rents and Royalties $23,000,000
Oil & Gas Conservation Surcharge $8,149,944
Federal Royalties, Rents and Bonuses $3,200,000

Revenue sustainability

Alaska revenues compared to Alaska revenues from oil and gas for 2010-2018. 2016-18 figures are projected. Total state revenues were highest in 2011, at nearly $20 billion, and ranged from $13.5 billion to $19.5 billion between 2012 and 2014 before dropping to just under $9 billion in 2015. The total petroleum based revenue amount rose from just over $6 billion in 2010 to $10 billion in 2012, then fell steadily to under $3 billion in 2015. For 2016-2018, revenues from petroleum based revenue is projected to drop to about $1.5 billion, then rise to just under $2 billion, while total revenues are expected to rise steadily to just under $11 billion. The average price of oil is listed under the chart for context. The price of oil was highest in 2011 and 2012, at $99 per barrel, and lowest in 2015, when it dropped to just $41.

In 2015, oil and gas revenue streams contributed $2.4 billion to Alaska general fund revenues and accounted for 28% of Alaska’s total revenue.

Increased oil prices in the early 2010’s caused a spike in annual revenue in Alaska, and the drop in crude oil prices in late 2014 caused a significant decline in the state’s petroleum-related revenue streams. The Alaska tax division predicts that oil and gas revenue will continue to decline to between 15% and 17% of total state revenues in the coming years.

Between FY 2014 and FY 2015, Alaska’s total revenue declined by more than 50% (from $17.2 billion to $8.5 billion). Oil and gas revenues account for 75% of the state’s unrestricted budget, so declining prices had an even greater impact on the state’s discretionary budget than on programs with dedicated funds from federal or other sources.

To learn more about Alaska’s recent budget shortfalls due to the decline in oil revenue:

Because this issue is shared by many parts of the world with significant natural resource revenues, the International Monetary Fund produced a report in 2015 called The Commodities Roller Coaster: A Fiscal Framework for Uncertain Times (PDF).

Tax expenditures

Tax expenditure programs are policy instruments that reduce state and local revenue through changes to the tax code (for example, tax credits, exemptions, preferential tax rates, or deferrals of tax liability).

Alaska had four tax expenditures claimed in 2015 that were directly related to oil and gas extraction and totaled at least $1 million each. Together, these four tax expenditures reduced state or local revenue by a total of $1.3 billion. The expenditure credits and per taxable barrel credits each accounted for 46% of total expenditures, at $590 million and $595 million respectively. The Alaska Department of Revenue outlines tax expenditures in its Revenue Sources Book (PDF).

Disbursements

After collecting revenue from natural resource extraction, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue distributes that money to different agencies, funds, and local governments for public use. This process is called “disbursement.”

Most federal revenue disbursements go into national funds. For detailed data about which expenditures and projects from those national funds are in Alaska, see nationwide federal disbursements.

ONRR also disburses some revenue from natural resource extraction to state governments. In 2015, ONRR disbursed $18,158,676 to Alaska. This included revenues from both onshore and offshore extraction in or near Alaska:

  • $16,200,909 was from onshore revenues
  • $1,957,767 was from offshore revenues

Data and documentation

State agencies distribute revenues according to Alaska law, which is defined by the legislature. For more information about state disbursements, see the following:

State fund Distribution
Total $2,568,248,186
General Fund $1,743,439,860
Alaska Permanent Fund $510,400,000
Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund $297,308,326
Other Restricted $9,200,000
Public School Trust Fund $7,900,000

Saving and spending revenue from extraction

Many states choose to establish permanent mineral trust funds, which can help governments dependent on revenue from natural resources smooth revenue and investments across boom and bust cycles.

The state of Alaska saves about 32% of royalties and 25% of production taxes. (Royalties, production taxes, and property taxes are Alaska’s three largest sources of revenue from natural resource extraction.) Most of Alaska’s saved revenue goes to one of these funds:

The Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) is a permanent natural resource trust fund used to pay citizen dividends, manage inflation, and support the general fund. The Alaska constitution requires that 25% of mineral-related income and any additional legislative appropriations be placed in the APF. In June 2016, the fund’s market value was $54 billion.

Alaska citizens receive annual dividends from the APF. In 2015, the APF Dividend Division paid out a total of $1.4 billion, or $2,072 to each of 672,741 eligible residents. This was the highest dividend in fund history; for comparison, the average payout between 1982 and 2010 was $1,100.

For 2016, in response to budget conditions, the Governor of Alaska exercised his line-item veto power to cut the total dividend payout to $696 million, which reduced individual checks to $1,000 per person. The Alaska state legislature is also considering two senate bills proposing changes to the APF: SB114 and SB128.

To learn more, see the APF Dividend Division’s annual reports or financial history and projections (PDF).

The Public School Trust Fund is worth $600 million (as of June 2016), and funded by 0.5% of state receipts from the management of all state lands. The public school system has access to $15 million from the fund, while the fund retains the principal and some net income.

The Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund was created in 1990 to hold money received by the state from mineral disputes. It grew from $1.8 billion in 2006 to $10.1 billion in 2015. Under certain conditions, the Alaska State Legislature may use it to fund state government operations.

Economic impact

The extractive industries play an important role in Alaska’s economy. Pipeline transportation and construction also contribute significantly; in 2014, pipeline transportation contributed $4.1 billion to Alaska’s GDP.

Because of relatively high annual wages (compared to other industries), extractive industries contribute a greater percentage of personal income than jobs. In 2015, annual wages from extractive industries made up about 13% (or $2.3 billion) of total annual wages in the state. The average annual wage for extractive-industry jobs in Alaska in 2015 was $113,949, or more than twice the statewide average wage of $54,762.

In addition to generating economic activity, extractive industries can have fiscal costs for state and local communities.

Data about each state’s gross domestic product comes from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Data and documentation

GDP (dollars)

In 2015, extractive industries accounted for 19.5% of Alaska’s GDP, or $10,269,000,000

Wage and salary data, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, describes the number of people employed in natural resource extraction that receive wages or salaries from companies.
Data and documentation

Wage and salary jobs

In 2015, there were jobs in the extractive industries in Alaska, and they accounted for 5.2% of statewide employment.

Borough or census area wage and salary jobs

Anchorage Borough Bethel Census Area Fairbanks North Star Borough Juneau Borough Kenai Peninsula Borough Ketchikan Gateway Borough Matanuska-Susitna Borough North Slope Borough Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area Valdez-Cordova Census Area Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area Anchorage Borough Bethel Census Area Fairbanks North Star Borough Juneau Borough Kenai Peninsula Borough Ketchikan Gateway Borough Matanuska-Susitna Borough North Slope Borough Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area Valdez-Cordova Census Area Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area
Borough or census area employment in extractive industries (jobs, 2015)

Self-employment data, from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, describes people who work in natural resource extraction, but don’t receive wages or salaries because they own their own companies.
Data and documentation

Self-employment

In 2014, there were self-employed people working in the extractive industries in Alaska.

The U.S. Census Bureau collects information about the top 25 exports in each state. In 2015, one or more natural resources ranked among the top 25 exports from Alaska.
Data and documentation

Other nonenergy minerals

$1,213,810,000 worth of other nonenergy minerals was exported from Alaska in 2015.

Oil

$278,390,000 worth of oil was exported from Alaska in 2015.

Copper

$98,970,000 worth of copper was exported from Alaska in 2015.

Gas

$187,990,000 worth of gas was exported from Alaska in 2015.

Gold

$154,120,000 worth of gold was exported from Alaska in 2015.

State governance

The state of Alaska participated in additional reporting. As part of the USEITI process, the Independent Administrator gathered information about state and local natural resource governance, revenues, and disbursements in Alaska.

Understanding land ownership

Land ownership in Alaska is unique among states. When the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867, the federal government initially owned all 375 million acres of the Alaska Territory. When Alaska became a state 92 years later, in 1959, the federal government granted 28% of the land to the state through a process that was unique to Alaska. The state selected 103 million acres of land and was granted an additional 1.2 million acres in trust lands; Alaska also owns all mineral rights in its acreage.

The state of Alaska is the second largest landowner in the state (after the U.S. government). It received patent to 90 million of the acres it selected. Some of the areas the state selected have not yet been transferred from the federal government. Learn more about:

The Alaska Mental Health Trust also owns and manages 1 million acres with significant timber, oil, gas, coal, or material resources. Revenues from lands managed by the Trust support mental health programs in the state.

To explore a map of land ownership in Alaska, see the Alaska Department of Natural Resource’s mapping application.

Alaska Native corporations

In most states, American Indian land was taken by force, settled by treaty, or both — but in Alaska, Native claims to land were not settled or resolved until Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) in 1971. ANCSA granted 44 million acres (both surface and sub-surface) and 1 billion dollars to 12 regional native corporations and 220 village corporations. These village and regional corporations now own 12% of land in Alaska; non-native private lands in Alaska make up just 1% of the land in the state.

These private, for-profit corporations belong to and benefit Alaska Natives in their region or village, but are distinct from tribes. Alaska Natives were allotted shares in Alaska Native corporations when the corporations were created. Unlike shares in a publicly traded corporation, however, Alaska Native corporation shares cannot be traded or sold.

Alaska Native corporations have generated substantial revenues from resource development, though this exposes them to the same revenue sustainability questions that affect state revenues. ANCSA provides for natural revenue sharing among all ANCs, so ANCs may mutually support each other to help smooth revenue volatility: For example, the Red Dog zinc mine has generated $1.3 billion in net proceeds for NANA Regional Corporation since mining began. It has retained about $480 million and shared about $820 million with other ANCs. Of the $480 million retained, about $221 million has been paid out to individual shareholders as dividends.

Separately from the Alaska Native corporations, there are 229 federally recognized tribal entities in Alaska. Until recently, they were viewed as landless (with the exception of one reservation, the Metlakatla Indian Community’s Annette Island Reserve). The Bureau of Indian Affairs recently changed this by establishing Rule 25 CFR Part 151, which allows Alaska tribes to apply to put land into trust.

State agencies

Alaska state agencies regulate extraction and interact with extractive industry companies in Alaska, particularly when they’re operating on state or private land.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission leads monitoring, enforcement, and restoration activities to support responsible stewardship of Alaska’s oil and gas resources. Its responsibilities include:

  • Evaluating and approving drilling operations
  • Preventing oil and gas waste at drill sites where the majority of natural gas extraction is flared
  • Preventing freshwater contamination throughout drilling
  • Administering Alaska’s Underground Injection Control Program
  • Inspecting oil field drilling, projecting, metering, and abandonment activities
  • Publishing a competitiveness report and annual reports

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources manages Alaska’s natural resources and extraction on state land.

The Division of Oil and Gas is responsible for leasing state lands for oil, gas, and geothermal extraction. It publishes annual reports, and its activities include:

  • Identifying prospective lease areas; evaluating oil and gas resources; and performing geologic, economic, environmental, and social analyses
  • Fielding and issuing exploration permits, developing leasing schedules, and conducting public review of proposed sales
  • Conducting oil and gas lease sales, negotiating contracts, and conducting royalty audits
  • Decommissioning and restoration activities, including Decommissioning, Removal, and Restoration Regulatory Review (PDF), which details conservation efforts related to drilling infrastructure
  • Publishing statutes and regulations governing oil and gas and geothermal
  • Publishing data about oil and gas funds received and distributed

The Mining, Land, and Water Division is the primary manager of Alaska’s land holdings, which are larger by area than any other state, and Alaska’s mineral resources (excluding oil, gas, coalbed methane, and geothermal energy). It is responsible for:

The Alaska Department of Revenue assesses, collects, manages, and distributes the majority of extractives revenues in Alaska.

The Alaska Department of Revenue collects revenue from companies engaged in extraction, with verification from the Oil and Gas Division, and publishes an Annual Report and Revenue Sources Book (PDF).

The Environmental Conservation’s Program Spill Prevention and Response Division (SPAR) prevents spills of oil, prepares for when a spill occurs, and responds rapidly to protect human health and the environment.

Local governance in Alaska

Alaska has two local government structures (PDF): cities and boroughs. All local governments in Alaska enjoy broad powers, but some cities and boroughs are home rule municipalities (PDF), which have the right to “exercise all legislative powers not prohibited by law or by charter.”

Fiscal costs of extractive activity

In addition to generating revenue and economic activity, extractive industries can bring costs to state and local communities. Development and activity related to the extractive industries are concentrated on Alaska’s northern coast, so attention to costs is concentrated in that part of the state.

The USEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group prioritized four types of fiscal costs: transportation, water, emergency services, and reclamation. For a holistic look at how the North Slope Borough has met these needs, see the North Slope Borough case study.