Federal regulators on Wednesday issued rules on how exploration companies would tap into a gas pipeline from the North Slope.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members say the rules will make sure the competition for capacity is fair when smaller companies try to access the proposed pipeline.
The three major North Slope oil producers - BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil - are negotiating to build the mammoth 3,500-mile pipeline through Canada to the Midwest.
Smaller companies say they are concerned about fair access to a pipeline that is built, owned and operated by the same companies that will be using the line as shippers.
The rules were outlined Wednesday at a FERC meeting in Washington, D.C., but companies who could be using the pipeline reserved comments until they have studied the documents.
"We haven't actually seen the final details yet, but we're encouraged by what we've heard so far about their proposal," said Mark Hanley of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. "It sounds like many of the concerns of explorers have been addressed."
In response to a request, BP issued a statement that said the company is reviewing the rules and cannot comment until they have been reviewed in their entirety.
The FERC's decision has to do with the open season in which companies would bid for capacity on the pipeline. Anchor shippers - companies who own large amounts of the gas that will largely pay for the pipeline - will be able to pre-subscribe other gas shippers outside of an open season.