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Parnell in Asia, touting Alaska natural gas

Associated Press Published: September 24, 2012

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Gov. Sean Parnell is in Asia, seeking to drum up support for Alaska natural gas.

It is Parnell's second state-sponsored overseas trip as governor, and it comes as the state awaits word on progress toward advancing a liquefied natural gas project that would allow for exports to the Pacific Rim.

Parnell said he plans to make a "compelling case" for Alaska gas in meetings with government officials, and utility company and business leaders in South Korea and Japan. He said he will explain the progress that's been made toward commercializing Alaska's North Slope gas and emphasize the comparative advantage Alaska holds over others, noting a more-than-40-year history of liquefied natural gas exports to Japan from a plant in Nikiski.

Having that trust with a trading partner can lead to increased sales of Alaska gas, which can also help meet the recipient country's needs, Parnell said.

"This is a trading relationship that has been fostered and maintained for decades, and I'm working to grow it across the years to come," Parnell said in an interview Friday before leaving on the trip, which is expected to be concentrated on Japan. "I'm not going over there with an MOU (memorandum of understanding) to sign or anything. That's not my goal. My goal is simply to work to grow demand for Alaska gas in Japan by opening their eyes to the opportunity that can come with LNG from Alaska."

Parnell said he remains convinced that the market for Alaska gas exists in Asia, rather than the Lower 48, where TransCanada Corp. had been focusing when efforts to advance a line seemingly stalled.

TransCanada holds an exclusive license with the state to advance a line, and Parnell last year called on the North Slope's three major producers — Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC and ConocoPhillips — to get behind a project that would allow for liquefied natural gas exports to the Pacific Rim if the market had shifted from the Lower 48.

State officials have said Alaska is closer than ever to its dream of a major gas pipeline, but significant challenges remain.

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