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Companies release new details on pipeline

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2013 at 6:36 pm •  Published: February 15, 2013

Alaskans have long hoped for a gas line as a way to create jobs, provide more reliable energy and shore up revenues as oil production declines. Given the history, Parnell said in an interview that he understands people might "cast a bit of a skeptical eye" when hearing about progress on a line that has yet to transpire.

"But at this point, they (the companies) have done everything I've asked when it comes to moving the project forward, meeting the benchmarks. I think Alaskans should be encouraged in that," he said.

Larry Persily, federal coordinator for Alaska gas pipeline projects, said the companies probably aren't moving fast enough for the public.

"Alaskans are frustrated and eagerly looking for more specifics. I know I sound like a politician when I say it's going to take time, but it's going to take time," he said.

Persily said he doesn't think the companies will fully commit to the project until there is a tax structure in place for natural gas in the state that works for a project of this size.

Parnell has proposed an overhaul of the Alaska's oil tax structure, as a way of making Alaska more competitive and encouraging new production. The plan has gotten a lukewarm response from some lawmakers, but legislative leaders share his goal of boosting oil production and are studying changes to the system.

Given that it is a shared priority, "I don't expect legislators will go home (this session) without doing something to increase production of Alaskans' oil for Alaskans," he said.

Last year, Parnell said that if the companies met his first round of benchmarks, the 2013 Legislature could take up gas tax legislation designed to move the project forward. Those benchmarks were met.

Parnell said he doesn't think an overall fiscal package will be worked out this year unless the companies are ready to make a final investment decision on the project. But he said there are things that might be addressed short of that, and that he has told the companies that Alaska is willing to take "commensurate, proportionate" steps with them to get a gas line done.


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