Officials press for all-Alaska pipeline

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

FAIRBANKS - Saying a natural gas pipeline could be built faster to Valdez than through Canada, Alaska Gasline Port Authority officials pressed lawmakers not to give up on an all-Alaska route.

Officials urged lawmakers during a committee in Juneau on Monday, even though the authority has failed to qualify for consideration under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.

Not only would it be built faster, Project Manager Bill Walker told members of the Senate Resources Committee that a pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez faced fewer hurdles getting off the ground, and ultimately would provide higher value for the state because gas could be sold in a number of different markets.

Gov. Sarah Palin's administration ruled in early January that the port authority's application under AGIA was incomplete and rejected a request for reconsideration.

The port authority is a coalition of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the city of Valdez and the North Slope Borough. It proposed an 806-mile pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. From there, the gas would be liquefied for transport on tankers.

The authority said it could not get project cost and other data from industry partners who pulled out of the bid. Walker suggested that project partners had been pressured not to apply under AGIA. He did not identify the companies or say where he thought the pressure was coming from.

Walker urged lawmakers to hire independent experts to conduct a "full and robust" analysis of the all-Alaska project before making a decision on whether to accept the proposal by TransCanada, the only company deemed complete under the AGIA process.

Palin's administration is accepting public comment on the TransCanada proposal through March 6, after which point it may seek approval from the Legislature to issue a state license.

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