Gas Development Bill Ready for House Floor

By Dave Donaldson

A bill setting up a new management structure to oversee the development of a plan to get gas from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska and the railbelt – and giving those managers a deadline to finish their work – has gotten through House committees and is ready for floor action tomorrow.   The bill passed out of the Finance Committee this afternoon with a unanimous show of bi-partisan support.

The measure puts the studies and work the state has done over the years — and all future work — in the hands of the five person team headed by Alaska Housing Finance Corporation executive director Dan Fauske .

Finance Co-Chair Mike Hawker said the work ahead of the team is significant.

There are a great many variables at work here. And there are no … this is not a choice between two alternatives.  It is looking a very complex mechanisms with a great deal of moving parts on how we are simply going to get Alaska’s North Slope gas to market.

Hawker said he doesn’t see the team’s work product leaving any future decisions to be made on the details of a pipeline – only in whether to continue with the project or not – and that will depend on the results of the Open Seasons planned for the two large pipeline projects to Canada.  Those Open Season results will determine whether there is market interest in that project.

Anchorage Democrat Les Gara supports the bill,  but says the results should include cost analysis showing the long-term prices that consumers will be bound with.   He says the bigger pipeline to Canada would be cheaper,  there’s another alternative that would give exploration assistance for Cook Inlet gas,  and the importation of Liquefied Natural Gas is also an option.

I don’t want the public to think that we can build a small line with more expensive gas,  and then a big line, when that comes forward with cheaper gas,  I don’t want the public to think they can just switch over to the cheaper gas.  They’re going to be obligated to keep buying the gas in the smaller line for a certain number of years.

Estimates by the Parnell administration show that it will cost approximately ten million dollars for the development team to get a plan ready to present to interested builders – or to advance it as a state project.


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