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Agreement sets road map for gas line project

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 15, 2014 at 9:02 pm •  Published: January 15, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A newly signed commercial agreement anticipates the state's equity share in a major natural gas pipeline project will be about 20 to 25 percent.

The agreement, signed by officials with the state, Alaska Gasline Development Corp., TransCanada Corp., and the North Slope's three major players, BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp., spells out broad terms for a new direction in pursuing the long hoped-for gas line project.

Gov. Sean Parnell outlined that direction — which includes plans to move away from terms of the 2007 Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, or AGIA — in a speech last week. On Wednesday, he hailed the agreement as a historic achievement.

"Not only have all the necessary parties aligned around a single project, but we're moving forward with a project that's on Alaska's terms and in Alaskans' interests," he said in a release.

The agreement is subject to passage of legislation that would allow for contract terms and a confidential process by which the administration could participate in developing those terms. The agreement notes that any project-enabling contracts would be subject to legislative approval.

Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash said the administration is looking for the Legislature this year to establish "take" terms and provide the departments of revenue and natural resources with authority to negotiate agreements that would be brought to lawmakers for approval probably late next year. He said that approval would pave the way for state participation.

Rather than ask the Legislature to make all the big decisions and "lock it in all right now, we're trying to segment this in a way that makes sense," he said.

According to the agreement, the parties anticipate a state interest share of approximately 20 percent to 25 percent.

Balash said the parties have agreed to move forward so long as the Legislature sets the state's participation rate between those percentages. To do that, he said the state needs to move from a net tax, which he said is a moving target based on costs and the commodity price, to a gross tax.

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