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My Turn: North Slope gas no longer a pipe dream

Posted: April 26, 2014 - 11:09pm

For too long, Alaskans’ dream of a natural gas pipeline has been just that — a dream.

That changed last week with the passage of Senate Bill 138. For the first time in Alaska’s history, we have the alignment of all necessary parties for the project, authorization from the Legislature to proceed into the early engineering and design phase, and a clear path forward on a gas line (the Alaska LNG Project).

In passing SB138, legislators approved the framework developed by our administration to deliver gas to Alaskans first, then to markets beyond. Specifically, the legislation sets Alaska on a path to become a 25 percent owner in the project and empowers the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) to carry the state’s interest in the project’s infrastructure.

AGDC will also continue to pursue the advancement of an alternate project as a back-up plan: the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline (ASAP) Project. Alaska’s gasline corporation, AGDC, will advance both efforts to identify the one that is in Alaskans’ long-term best interests.

In the coming weeks, Alaskans can expect work to ramp up on the Alaska LNG Project. Following the signing of SB138, a formal joint venture agreement will be finalized by AGDC, the producers and TransCanada. This allows the project to advance into the Pre-Front End Engineering and Design phase, or Pre-FEED.

In May, a summer field season will commence. Across the state, millions of private sector dollars will be spent and hundreds of Alaskans will work on refining the cost and engineering aspects of the project. Work will continue in assessing where off-takes will be needed to get gas to Alaskans.

Additionally, the State of Alaska, as well as the producers, will begin exploring potential markets for North Slope gas, both in state and abroad. Looking abroad, we will evaluate the market for Alaska liquefied natural gas and work with potential Alaska LNG buyers in places like Korea and Japan, which have both shown keen interest.

This is a first: Never before has Alaska had producers in alignment, legislative authorization, and a clear path forward. With the Alaska LNG Project, potential buyers around the world are already taking notice. This will be one of the largest projects in the world and will help get Alaska back on the map as an energy producing powerhouse.

I commend legislators, especially Sen. Anna Fairclough and Rep. Eric Feige, for their outstanding work and thorough review of SB138.

As we continue to advance the Alaska LNG Project, my administration will continue to employ a phased approach, taking commensurate, proportionate steps with our partners. This means the State will return to the people’s elected board of directors — the Legislature — for review and approval at key decision points, just as the companies return to their boards of directors for authorization on moving forward during each major phase.

Alaska’s future is bright, and with the passage of SB138 we are closer than ever to getting Alaska’s gas to Alaskans. We have made historic progress on a gas line and our way forward will continue on Alaska’s terms and in Alaskans’ interests.

When communities across the state are able to heat their homes with North Slope gas, we’ll look back at this juncture and be able to say, “In 2014, the Alaska LNG Project was launched.”

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Art Petersen
Art Petersen 04/27/14 - 11:51 am
That aspect of the plan

that sends natural gas to Alaskans who live in the bush, who too often must choose between buying food or fuel, is Just, right, and good. And long past due. Among all the positions and actions that this governor has taken that are unjust, not right, bad, and lacking, seeking to achieve reliable supplies of affordable fuel for the bush stands out like the north star. It doesn't outshine all the rest--the needless giveaway to oil companies, the denial of healthcare to so many in need, the strangling of Alaska's system of public education, the 4-year lack of response to the many charges of sexual abuse and rape in Alaska's National Guard.... But fuel to the bush is undeniably a bright star over the north for which the governor deserves some credit. ... Let's hope it can be kept shining.

Kevin Nye
Kevin Nye 04/27/14 - 10:59 am

Nice comment Art. I don't agree with all of what you said, but on your your opinion on the pipeline, you are dead nuts on. Nice to see that you are willing to give credit to Parnell on this. I have worked way out in the bush along the Bering Sea coast in the many villages-in the winter too-and I know about the terrible costs that they incur out there to simply keep themselves warm. So yes, this will be a great thing for Alaska! G'day mate!

Bill Burk
Bill Burk 04/27/14 - 10:59 am

Some how that Howdy Duddy smile of Parnell's say it all!

Kevin Nye
Kevin Nye 04/27/14 - 11:07 am

Can you people please fix the typo in the headline of this article? Somehow I doubt that Governor Parnell wrote the words "North Slop". But even if he did-which I highly doubt-you can fix this typo in this headline. Thanks! :-)

Abby Lowell
Abby Lowell 04/29/14 - 07:25 am

Hi Kevin,

The typo has been corrected; thank you for pointing it out!

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