Parnell reshaping gas pipeline leadership

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2010

ANCHORAGE - The resignations Gov. Sean Parnell requested of cabinet members will bring new leadership to the team developing a multibillion North Slope natural gas pipeline, the Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

Parnell says he wants the team to work with state legislators to determine how the gas should be taxed. Major producers - Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips and BP - say they won't commit to the project without tax certainty.

Parnell supports the gas pipeline project launched when Sarah Palin was governor, although his campaign opponents called it a failure and waste of taxpayer dollars.

Three key members of the natural gas pipeline team are among the commissioners whose resignations the governor has accepted: Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin, Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin, and deputy Resources Commissioner Marty Rutherford, who led the team.

The gas project is still in early stages: Two competing pipeline companies - one led by BP and Conoco Phillips, the other led by TransCanada Corp. and Exxon Mobil - say they have received conditional bids from prospective gas shippers but no firm commitments yet.

Under the state's plan, Palin granted a license to TransCanada, making the Canadian company and Exxon eligible for $500 million in state reimbursement for their spending to advance the pipeline. The state hopes to have the gas line built and producing gas by 2020.

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