In-State Gas Pipeline Remains Top Priority

A day after the Governor's State of the State address the tone has been set for session, and an in-state gas pipeline remains a top priority.

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by Megan Mazurek

JUNEAU - A day after the Governor's State of the State address the tone has been set for session, and an in-state gas pipeline remains a top priority.

Wednesday night Gov. Parnell announced a February 15 deadline for the Alaska Pipeline Project to accept a concept of an all Alaska project.

"i want to see what the project specs are," Parnell said. "Tell us where the gas treatment plants are going to be, tell us how many compressor stations there are and tell us how many off-takes there are so Alaskans and Alaskan communities can benefit from our gas."

Parnell wants to see companies finalize an agreement on pre engineering and design by spring to ensure a full summer of field season work.

A few senators are skeptical of the timeline.

"I'm always very optimistic," said Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage. "However, I've worked on this issue for many years now and I have sort of a growing sense of realism that there are significant obstacles, and probably the most significant is getting the major producers BP, Conoco Phillips and Exxon into a position where they are in a position to sell their gas."

If the Alaska Pipeline Project does not meet its deadline there is another avenue to consider, and Parnell says that's why he supports HB 4 calling AGDC to implement its plan for a pipeline.

"The bill would boost the Alaska Development Corporation's ability to build a gas line and participate in one that's being built."

Rep. Mike Chenault and Rep. Mike Hawker proposed the bill.

Legislators are hopeful a plan will be decided on Alaska's timetable, not the producers. To date, producers have exercised extreme caution on a gas line project with concerns about costs and tax implications of how the project could be profitable.

"Even if you said yes today for a small diameter pipeline from the North Slope to Anchorage," said French. "It's going to be some years before it arrives."

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