JUNEAU, April 21 Alaska's legislature on Monday
approved Governor Sean Parnell's plan to join four energy
companies in moving ahead on plans to build infrastructure to
transport and market 35 trillion cubic feet of North Slope gas
to be shipped by an 800-mile pipeline to a liquefied natural gas
(LNG) export plant.
The project is valued at between $45 billion and $65 billion
for the line and gas treatment facilities. Should it come to
fruition, gas could hit local and foreign markets in the
mid-2020s, according to the state's projections.
Companies are increasingly seeking to ship LNG from growing
U.S. gas reserves to Asia and Europe, where demand is surging.
Companies have complained about red tape in seeking federal
approval for U.S. facilities to export LNG.
Alaska has a history of exporting LNG dating back to the
1960s, but from basins in Cook Inlet south of Anchorage.
Lawmakers passed legislation proposed by the governor,
authorizing him to work with North Slope leaseholders Exxon
Mobil Corp, BP Plc, ConocoPhillips and
pipeline company TransCanada Corp in drafting a project
By the end of 2015, the governor is expected to come back to
the legislature to ratify a contract. Meanwhile, project teams
will begin front-end engineering and design work.
"Alaskans have waited a long time for a gas line, and for
the first time in our history, we have alignment, authorization
from the legislature, and a clear path forward," Parnell said in
a statement. "The Alaska LNG Project has begun."
Previous efforts by Parnell's two predecessors failed. Like
many of his colleagues who served under those administrations,
House Finance Co-Chair Bill Stoltze, a Republican from Chugiak,
Alaska, was cautious.
"I have the same mix of skepticism," Stoltze said. "This is
what iteration of efforts? There is probably more promise than
hope. I will not say stars aligned, but there are less things to
stop this than things in the past."
Officials said more work was in store.
"This is giving us permission to do a lot more work. As we
do that work, we'll get a better sense of whether or not this
project is a contender," Natural Resources Commissioner Joe
(Reporting By Steve Quinn; Editing by Terry Wade and David