Knowles, Murkowski spar over incentives for building gas pipeline

Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2004

FAIRBANKS - Democratic Senate candidate Tony Knowles says his opponent, incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, failed to include a key provision in an incentive package to build a gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope.

Republican Murkowski says Knowles is wrong and the incentives that made it through should be more than enough to get the line to the next stage.

Congress, at the urging of Alaska's all-Republican congressional delegation, passed financial incentives that include loan guarantees and faster permit approval to entice prospective gas pipeline builders.

Not included in the package was a special tax credit that protected companies against low natural gas prices. Knowles said that provision was essential.

Knowles is running against Murkowski in the Nov. 2 election.

ConocoPhillips, one of the state's largest oil and gas producers, has pushed Congress hard to include the tax credit.

In a written statement, the company said: "ConocoPhillips is pleased with the success the Alaska delegation had in getting the pipeline provision package passed before Congress adjourned.

"We think that this strong show of delegation teamwork will play a significant role in advancing this project. We also look forward to successfully completing negotiations with the state of Alaska on the state fiscal terms that will also be needed to advance the project."

A company spokesman in Houston, Texas, declined to elaborate.

ConocoPhillips has joined with BP Amoco and Exxon Mobil in negotiations with the state over the taxes and royalties they would pay.

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