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Alaska is making gas line progress

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Posted: Saturday, October 13, 2012 11:39 pm

A year ago, prospects for developing our North Slope natural gas had unraveled. The Denali Pipeline Project had shut down. The Alaska Pipeline Project, pursued by TransCanada and ExxonMobil, was focused on the Lower 48 market, while competition there made it increasingly less attractive.

This year, we’ve seen positive change.

First, my administration urged North Slope leaseholders and TransCanada to shift focus to Alaskans and the Asian market for natural gas. In January, I set benchmarks and a roadmap for the companies’ work this year. In early spring, the North Slope companies aligned their work, with a fresh commitment to producing gas under the framework of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.

Second, we resolved the long-standing Point Thomson dispute, and set the stage for a multibillion-dollar development at that massive oil and gas field. This project, which emphasizes Alaska hire, will provide thousands of jobs at its peak, put more oil in TAPS, and is the investment needed to commercialize our state’s gas.

Third, we embarked on significant outreach to Asia, educating government officials and prospective buyers on the comparative advantages of Alaska liquefied natural gas (LNG), and motivating them to “Buy Alaskan.”

We have made a strong case for Alaska LNG in Japan, China and Korea in the past year. For example, in September, DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan was invited to speak along with the world’s energy ministers, LNG buyers and suppliers at a major LNG conference in Tokyo, where Japanese utility and government officials publically recognized Alaska’s long-time role as a pioneer and a reliable supplier of LNG.

And two weeks ago, I embarked on a successful trade mission to Japan and Korea that reinforced that message of Alaska’s reliability, our massive resource base, and our political and legal stability.

Fourth, as part of our comprehensive Asia outreach and the requirements we imposed on TransCanada, the company recently solicited interest for North Slope gas, with encouraging results from potential buyers in Asia and North America.

Fifth, the major North Slope leaseholders and TransCanada last week delivered a letter to my office that addresses my third-quarter milestones for the companies to harden their numbers and deliver a project work schedule. This letter describes their progress toward developing a world-class Alaska LNG export project — one that many in Asia are now eying.

Due to hard work by many, Alaska has made significant progress in less than a year for developing our natural gas. But significant challenges remain.

We must continue to focus on the strategic goal of aligning the interests of key stakeholders behind an LNG project. Alaskans are the primary stakeholder of this gasline, with five off-take points for Alaska’s own gas use.

While healthy skepticism is always welcome, gas for Alaskans and markets beyond can be a reality only if we all work together to make it happen.

Now is the time to build on the progress of the past year and pull together toward the goal we have pursued for more than 40 years — commercializing Alaska’s gas for Alaskans’ benefit.

Sean Parnell became governor of Alaska in 2009 and was elected in 2010.

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