The companies said in October, after meeting Parnell's first round of goals, that "significant environmental, regulatory, engineering and commercial work remains to reach upcoming decisions to bring North Slope gas to market," a point reiterated by a TransCanada spokesman Thursday.
"We are working to complete concept selection as soon as possible," spokesman Shawn Howard said by email, when asked if the Feb. 15 target was achievable. "We understand the importance of this work to the state and are working diligently to complete it."
Parnell's sharpest words during the news conference were in response to criticism of his oil tax plan. He said the current tax structure isn't fair to Alaskans, because it doesn't protect the state as well as it could when oil prices are lower. He said it also isn't fair to Alaskans "to be sliding in production and doing nothing about it."
Production has been on a downward trend since the late 1980s but has fallen to a point more recently where there are greater concerns about the impact on the state's budget since Alaska relies heavily on oil to run. Republicans and Democrats agree with the goal of increasing production but disagree on how best to achieve that.
Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said it's "crazy" to say he and other critics support status quo decline because they don't like Parnell's bill. He said very low taxes in the past didn't reverse the trend and there are other things the state should look at, like requiring development plans as a condition to leasing, enforcing leases and having the state partner with companies to make uneconomic projects economically feasible.
Follow Becky Bohrer at http://twitter.com/beckybohrerap .