Gov. Parnell seeks to advance Alaska gas project

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm •  Published: December 18, 2013

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell's administration is looking to get out from under a 2007 law as it seeks to further advance a major natural gas pipeline project in Alaska.

Specifics on how that might happen, though, have yet to be decided, Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash said Wednesday.

The law, known as the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, was aimed at encouraging construction of a pipeline to move North Slope gas to market.

Canada-based TransCanada Corp., a pipeline company, won an exclusive license to pursue it in 2008, with the state promising up to $500 million to cover reimbursable expenses. ExxonMobil Corp. later joined TransCanada's effort.

Since then, the project has changed significantly. It's no longer focused on a line that would extend into Canada and serve North America markets but rather on a liquefied natural gas project — supported by the North Slope's three major players, ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips — that would allow for exports to Asia.

ConocoPhillips and BP opposed provisions of the 2007 law and pursued a rival line of their own before ditching it in 2011 and ultimately joining TransCanada and ExxonMobil in pursuing the liquefied natural gas option.

Parnell's budget plan for next year would eliminate the state's Alaska Gasline Inducement Act office, which is responsible for license monitoring and compliance. The budget plan says gas commercialization efforts are expected to transition out of AGIA by the start of the next fiscal year, July 1.

Balash said the hope is that getting out from under AGIA will allow more freedom for the state and companies to come to terms on advancing a line.

He said the AGIA license contemplates a project sponsor — one — in this case, TransCanada. But he said the project now being pursued is more akin to a joint venture. With a joint venture, he said the license holder can only be responsible for its own actions.

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