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Legislators order audit of natural gas agency

Audit originator concerned about duplication of efforts

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A legislative committee Monday ordered an audit of the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority.

Rep. Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake, first requested it, saying he needed more information about ANGDA's efforts and possible duplication of efforts.

"One of the most important issues we're facing is energy and deliverabilty of that energy," Neuman said. "We're trying to make sure we're getting the most information we can."

Neuman said he wanted to know if the audit turned up any "red flags."

The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee ordered the audit in an Anchorage meeting Monday.

ANGDA is a public corporation created by voters through an initiative in 2002 and is charged with getting North Slope natural gas to market and to Alaskan communities, or looking at liquefied natural gas or other options.

It has an independent board of directors and is funded by the state.

The office of Gov. Sean Parnell and staff within other departments are all looking at gas development issues, as well as the independent Alaska Gasline Port Authority. Two efforts sponsored by major oil, natural gas and pipeline companies to bring North Slope gas to the U.S. Midwest also are under way. The projects also would bring gas to Fairbanks and closer to Southcentral Alaska.

Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, supported the call for the audit. He said wanted to know how ANGDA's actions fit into other efforts in the state.

Hawker said it would be "very informative to see how much money we've appropriated and where it's all gone."

Legislative Audit Division Director Pat Davidson said the requested audit would be complicated because her auditors would have to develop a strong understanding of both ANGDA and similar entities to look for overlapping efforts that might be wasting money.

"It isn't going to be a simple request, but I think it would be a very informative one for the Legislature," Davidson said.

ANGDA executive director Harold Heinze was traveling, but Kirsten Sikora, ANGDA's administrative officer, said it welcomed the audit.

"We're looking forward to working together to solve the state's energy crisis," she said.

One of ANGDA's efforts is to find ways to develop the North Slopes natural gas as propane for use in Alaska, especially rural Alaska.

Mary Ann Pease, working on that project for ANGDA, said they agency was happy to work with the Legislature on the audit.

"Everything we have is open to public and legislative review," she said.

Davidson said the work on the ANGDA audit would likely begin next March, after her division completed its annual audit of the State of Alaska.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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