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ANCHORAGE- Trustees of the Alaska Permanent Fund are planning to hire a consulting firm to determine whether the oil-wealth savings account should invest in a possible natural gas pipeline from the North Slope.
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The Virginia-based company, PACE Global Energy Services, will advise trustees on pipeline investments in general and more specifically whether the Gov. Frank Murkowski's proposal for Alaska to own as much as 20 percent of a gas line makes sense for the $34 billion fund.
The cost of constructing a gas line is estimated at $20 billion to $30 billion. The state's share would be $4 billion to $6 billion, at 20 percent.
The Permanent Fund has never invested in infrastructure projects, especially ones yet to be built, said Bill Hudson, a trustee and former Republican state lawmaker from Juneau. So trustees decided to hire experts.
"We want to understand very clearly what we would be involved with before doing it," said Carl Brady, chairman of the board of trustees.