Justia Alaska Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Energy, Oil and Gas
ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. v. Williams Alaska Petroleum, Inc.
Williams Alaska Petroleum owned and operated a refinery, which ConocoPhillips Alaska supplied with crude oil. ConocoPhillips demanded that Williams tender a payment of $31 million as adequate assurances of Williams’s ability to perform if an ongoing administrative rate-making process resulted in a large retroactive increase in payments that Williams would owe ConocoPhillips under the Exchange Agreement. ConocoPhillips offered to credit Williams with a certain rate of interest on that principal payment against a future retroactive invoice. Williams transferred the principal of $31 million but demanded, among other terms, credit corresponding to a higher rate of interest. Williams stated that acceptance and retention of the funds would constitute acceptance of all of its terms. ConocoPhillips received and retained the funds, rejecting only one particular term in Williams’s latest offer but remaining silent as to which rate of interest would apply. Years later, after the conclusion of the regulatory process, ConocoPhillips invoiced Williams retroactively pursuant to their agreement. ConocoPhillips credited Williams for the $31 million principal already paid as well as $5 million in interest calculated using the lower of the two interest rates. Williams sued ConocoPhillips, arguing that a contract had been formed for the higher rate of interest and that it was therefore owed a credit for $10 million in interest on the $31 million principal. The superior court initially ruled for Williams, concluding that a contract for the higher rate of interest had formed under the Uniform Commercial Code when ConocoPhillips retained the $31 million while rejecting one offered term but voiced no objection to Williams’s specified interest term. On reconsideration, the superior court again ruled for Williams, this time determining that a contract for the higher rate of interest had formed based on the behavior of the parties after negotiation under the UCC, or, in the alternative, that Williams was entitled to a credit for a different, third rate of interest in quantum meruit. The superior court also ruled in favor of Williams on all issues related to attorney’s fees and court costs. ConocoPhillips and Williams both appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that the superior court was right the first time and that the parties entered into a contract for the higher rate of interest under the UCC.View "ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. v. Williams Alaska Petroleum, Inc." on Justia Law
BP Pipelines (Alaska) Inc. v. Alaska
The issue before the Supreme Court in this case involved the assessed value of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System for property tax purposes. The parties disputed the method used to assess the pipeline's value as well as the specific deductions made for functional and economic obsolescence. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's valuation. View "BP Pipelines (Alaska) Inc. v. Alaska" on Justia Law
Denali Citizens Council v. Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources
Denali Citizens Council challenged the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) finding that issuing a license to Usibelli Coal Mine for gas exploration in the Healy Basin was in the best interests of the state on two grounds: (1) DNR failed to take a "hard look" at the economic feasibility of excluding certain residential areas and wildlife habitat from the license; and (2) DNR's treatment of environmental mitigation measures in the best interest finding was arbitrary and capricious. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed the superior court's order upholding DNR's decision to issue the gas exploration license to Usibelli because the Court concluded that DNR did not act arbitrarily in developing and publishing its best interest finding. View "Denali Citizens Council v. Alaska Dept. of Natural Resources" on Justia Law