Alaska tax director to take part in gas pipeline negotiations

Murkowski team member calls a branching of line to Valdez interesting, ' but that doesn't get gas to market'

Posted: Sunday, July 03, 2005

The state's tax director will work full time on gas pipeline negotiations as the Murkowski administration tries to close financial terms for a gas line by a self-imposed fall deadline.

Dan Dickinson will leave the Department of Revenue's Tax Division on July 11. Dickinson said he is moving to the negotiating team because of Gov. Frank Murkowski's "aggressive schedule to get the negotiations going."

The state is talking with three separate applicants under Alaska's Stranded Gas Act: the producer group of BP PLC, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp.; TransCanada; and the Alaska Gasline Port Authority.

"The path is to get a deal put together between the producers and the state under the Stranded Gas Act," Dickinson said.

Dickinson said all three applications were in play but any deal would have to include the producers in some way. The producers own the rights to 90 percent of the known gas reserves on the North Slope.

Dickinson said proposals such as the port authority's plan to run a line to Valdez were interesting ideas, "but that doesn't get gas to market."

The producers favor a route through Canada to markets in the Midwest, and have called the plan to pipe the gas to Valdez too expensive.

TransCanada proposes a pipeline that would tie into its Canadian network.

One of the applications could be modified to bring in elements of another, Dickinson said.

"Clearly the gas has to be part of the deal and some of the things TransCanada brought forward could be part of the deal," Dickinson said.

Dickinson is the second recent addition to the state's negotiating team. Earlier this week, Murkowski announced that his chief of staff, Jim Clark, was going to lead the negotiators.

Murkowski spokeswoman Becky Hultberg called Clark and Dickinson "the closers" and said they were brought in because of the increased pace of negotiations.

Many state lawmakers had hoped to be presented with a contract proposal this legislative session. When that didn't materialize, Murkowski said he planned to have a deal made by fall.

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