Alaskans wonder whether natural gas dreams will materialize as export talk heats up
May 29, 2013
By Margaret Kriz Hobson | The Alaska Dispatch: At a time when international competition is heating up to export liquefied natural gas into Asia, Alaska is scrambling to become a major player in foreign export markets, while also giving state consumers access to local fuel.
America’s northernmost state wants to commercialize the 34 trillion cubic feet of natural gas available on its North Slope, roughly a tenth of all U.S. natural gas reserves.
But although Alaska has plenty of gas, transporting it from the frozen north to the world’s markets has been the subject of one of the most contentious and long-running battles in the state’s history.
Recently, Alaska officials expanded the authority of a state corporation in hopes of giving it enough flexibility and muscle to get a natural gas pipeline built.
During the 2013 legislative session, state lawmakers converted the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) into an independent state corporation.
They gave the new body broad powers to take part in two projects: a large-volume LNG export project proposed by the energy industry and a small, in-state gas pipeline.
“We are currently on two parallel but merging paths” on building a natural gas pipeline, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican, said in a recent interview. “We’re closer now to getting a pipeline than we were before passage of that bill.”
On May 21, Parnell signed the bill into law.