Key Alaska House lawmakers on Tuesday ramped up efforts to create an in-state pipeline that delivers some of the state's vast natural gas reserves to Alaskans, unveiling a bill that would wed two state gasline authorities under one umbrella while removing regulatory hurdles.
Preliminary plans for this so-called ASAP line -- short for Alaska Stand-Alone Gas Pipeline -- were published in July and call for a 24-inch-diameter line snaking some 700 miles from the North Slope to Southcentral.
The proposed legislation, sponsored by House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, and Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, would provide flexibility that might change some of those plans.
The lawmakers said ASAP should not be seen not as a competitor to another state-subsidized proposal: the large-diameter, 48-inch gasline TransCanada Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. are studying. Draft resource reports for a line from the North Slope to Canada that could ultimately deliver gas to the Lower 48 were recently filed with federal regulators for review. That line is supported by the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA), which provides $500 million in state funding for the work being done by Exxon Mobil and the Canadian pipeline company.
The smaller line is constrained in size by the terms of AGIA. It's meant to complement a larger line, the lawmakers said, perhaps serving as a spur that would tie into the larger line and deliver gas within Alaska. If the larger line is never built, the smaller line could replace the larger line.
"This is not about picking a winner, this is about getting gas to Alaskans," Chenault said. "Whatever happens in future, we want to make sure we're positioned as a state to move forward with a (gasline) project."
A Chenault bill created the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. in 2010 to begin the work of planning for ASAP. The gasline development corporation has spent $23 million and plans to hold an open season -- when gas producers can commit to shipping gas in the line -- in 2013, said Dan Fauske, project leader. It plans to begin transporting gas in 2019.
The bill introduced by Chenault and Hawker on Tuesday is meant to speed the design and planning. The effort could cost as much as $400 million before a final plan is ready to be handed off to a pipeline builder, said Fauske.
The bill would combine other existing bills. Among other things, it would:
- Create a fund for the work, and seed it with $200 million, an amount set aside by the Legislature last year.
- Combine the voter-created Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority with the gasline development corporation. The two corporations have similar missions -- getting natural gas to Alaskans -- but ANGDA has been oft-ignored. Their offices have existed just down the hall from each other in the yellow Sunshine Plaza in downtown Anchorage.
- Require the two authorities to work together under the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. board of directors. ANGDA would be tasked with gas marketing and purchasing.
- Allow more flexibility for where the line is built, removing language that it links the North Slope with a tidewater community in Alaska. The flexibility would allow ASAP to tap into gas discoveries that might be found in other parts of Alaska.
- Allow the gasline development corporation to enter confidential agreements and exercise eminent domain.
The gasline development corporation has held several meetings around the state to describe ASAP. The next will be in midtown Anchorage Wednesday night at the Crowne Plaza hotel. Click here for more details on that meeting.
Contact Alex DeMarban at alex(at)alaskadispatch.com