Web site offers updates on gas line project proposals

Posted: Monday, March 04, 2002

ANCHORAGE - Dave Harbour is a self-appointed news service, when it comes to the idea of an Alaska natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48.

Harbour, 59, man spends up to eight hours a day reading, writing and posting information about the subject on his Web site. Working out of his Anchorage home, he supplies a bounty of information about the many proposals to tap the massive natural reserves of Alaska's North Slope and Canada's Mackenzie Delta.

Industry gas experts, energy reporters, professors and government regulators are among those who have visited Harbour's Web site, Northern Gas Pipelines, at www.arcticgaspipeline.com.

A quarter-century ago, Harbour was closely involved with failed attempts to build an Alaska gas line to the Lower 48.

By early 2001, the revival of the Alaska and Canada projects caused an explosion of news reports. And Harbour, a historian of sorts on previous gas line proposals, felt the public needed a one-stop shop to catch the latest updates.

He launched the free Web site about a year ago.

Using Microsoft FrontPage, he built the site and began posting links to news stories. He also has included reports, PowerPoint presentations, historical perspectives, maps and other information.

What began as a one-hour-a-day project has blossomed into an unpaid job that consumes up to eight hours seven days a week. He also covers energy conferences, snapping photos and writing his own articles.

The site gets about 300 to 800 hits a day, though it recently surpassed 1,000 hits for a few days, he said.

Sponsors cover most of the site's technical expenses but not Harbour's time. As a business consultant - his full-time job - Harbour charges clients up to $125 an hour.

He said he enjoys keeping up the site as a public service. Those who know him say he is a just a guy with a history and passion for natural gas.

Harbour got involved in the natural gas business in the early 1970s, when he was public affairs director for the U.S. arm of the Arctic Gas consortium. The group of about two dozen Canadian and U.S. gas and pipeline companies was the first to make a serious push to transport Alaska and Canadian natural gas south. spending about $250 million studying numerous options, Harbour told the Anchorage Daily News.

But before the project moved forward, gas prices fell. The companies shelved the project for more than two decades.

About 14 months ago, the Alaska and Canada pipeline projects were revived when prices spiked up to about $10 per million BTU. Companies on both sides of the border have again spent hundreds of millions studying the idea.

"There was so much information out there that it seemed like there needed to be a place to post all of it," Harbour said. "That's why I'm here in this little modest home office doing my thing."

Gas prices have lingered below $2.50 most of this year. While gas line proposals are still under consideration, nobody has committed to building either an Alaska or Canada pipeline.

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