State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Experimental gas plant to open soon

ANCHORAGE - BP hopes to begin operations at its experimental gas-to-liquids plant in Nikiski in the next two months.

The goal of the $86 million plant is to figure out how to turn natural gas into a liquid cheaply.

The process would offer a new way to get "stranded" gas to market, gas that otherwise might remain stuck in the ground for lack of a practical way to transport it. The second advantage is the wide range of clean, sulfur-free goods that can be made from GTL, including diesel and naphtha, a raw material for making gasoline.

In the gas-to-liquids process raw natural gas is converted to white crude. It's clear like water, needs no special cooling or pressure to remain a liquid, and can flow down an ordinary oil pipeline to market.

The Nikiski plant will take in 3 million cubic feet of Cook Inlet natural gas each day and convert it to 300 barrels of white crude, which will be hauled to the Tesoro refinery in Kenai.

The BP plant will employ about 20 people, and BP is partnering in the experiment with a London-based, Russian-owned company called Davy Process Technology.

The plan is to run the GTL plant only 18 months or less, gather as much experience and operating data as possible, then tear it down, BP said.

If successful, the test plant could lead to far larger, commercial GTL plants capable of making 300,000 barrels a day or even more.

'Gavel to Gavel' changing channels

JUNEAU - "Gavel-to-Gavel," the Juneau-based legislative coverage TV service, will change cable channels in Juneau on Monday.

The service will move from Channel 4 to Channel 7 on GCI Cable as part of a general channel lineup change by GCI. "Gavel-to-Gavel" channels on other cable TV systems will not change.

"Gavel-to-Gavel" is produced by KTOO-TV and televises unedited, start-to-finish coverage of House and Senate floor sessions, key committee hearings, news conferences and other state government activity. It airs from about 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, with expanded coverage when needed.

Rokeberg bill calls for new Capitol

JUNEAU - Rep. Norm Rokeberg, an Anchorage Republican, has filed a bill calling for construction of a new legislative hall and giving boroughs and municipalities with at least 30,000 people the opportunity to submit proposals for the building.

House Bill 60 has been referred to the House State Affairs committee but not had a hearing. That committee is chaired by Juneau Republican Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, who has promised to prevent legislative- or capital-move bills from making it through the committee.

The bill stipulates that lease payments by the Legislature may not exceed $1 million a year.

The Alaska Legislative Council would develop specifications for construction if the bill is approved by the Legislature.

Two more vessels caught fishing in Russian waters

KODIAK - Two more boats have been ordered to port after the Coast Guard detected them fishing in Russian waters.

The Alaskan Beauty, owned by Alaskan Beauty LLC of Kirkland, Wash., and the Fierce Allegiance, owned by Mezich Allegiance of Edmonds, Wash., joined four other Bering Sea crabbers accused of fishing over the line in Russian waters during the opilio, or snow crab, season that closed Saturday.

Also being investigated for illegal fishing are the Arctic Wind, Pacific Star, and Ocean Olympic of Seattle and the Adventure of Petersburg.

The Adventure was ordered to St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands. The five other boats are being offloaded in Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands.

A National Marine Fisheries Service spokesman said enforcement officers are seizing the vessels' catch. The crab will be sold and proceeds held until investigations of the possible violations are completed. An administrative law judge could impose forfeiture of the catch, and the forfeiture then could be contested in federal court.

The Coast Guard last week spotted the vessels apparently on the Russian side of the maritime boundary line.

Liquor smugglers would face forfeiture

FAIRBANKS - A lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow the state to seize vehicles used to smuggle liquor into dry communities.

The bill by Rep. Bob Lynn, an Anchorage Republican, would allow for the forfeiture of aircraft, vehicles or vessels used to transport liquor in violation of local-option laws.

Alaska law already allows for forfeiture of vehicles, aircraft and vessels used in violating some types of liquor laws. Lynn's bill would extend that authority to violations of the local-option laws that allow some villages to be alcohol-free.

Lynn's bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Eric Croft, Sharon Cissna, and Harry Crawford, all Anchorage Democrats.

Light earthquake strikes near Seward

ANCHORAGE - A small earthquake struck near Seward on Tuesday afternoon and was felt as far away as Palmer, the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer said.

The 12:30 p.m. earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 3.8 and was centered 35 miles northwest of Seward.

The quake was six miles deep and was felt in Seward, Anchorage and Palmer. There were no reports of injury or damage.

Wuerch files to run again for Anchorage mayor

ANCHORAGE - Mayor George Wuerch has filed to run for re-election on April 1.

Construction is at a 10-year high, he said. Unemployment is low. Public safety has improved. Municipal spending hasn't increased much, he said.

So far, his main opponent is former Mayor Rick Mystrom, who led the city from 1994 to 2000. Mystrom supported Wuerch's campaign to succeed him in the 2000 election, but filed to run for election last week.

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