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Parnell tries to woo Korea Gas president Choo with Alaska gas prospects

Alaska Dispatch

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell donned his salesman hat on Monday, meeting with the CEO and president of the Korea Gas Corp. to promote Alaska liquefied natural gas.

Korea Gas is the world’s largest LNG buyer, operating three LNG terminals, according to a press release from the governor's office. It has partnerships in an array of LNG projects around the world. Kangsoo Choo and Parnell discussed prospects of exports to Asia. 

Huge reserves of natural gas lie beneath the North Slope of the 49th state, with the U.S. Department of Energy estimating that there are 125 trillion cubic feet of economically recoverable gas. For Alaska, the vexing, decades-old problem has been getting that gas to market.

In October, a letter jointly signed by Parnell and executives from Exxon Mobil Corp., BP, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada Corp., said a project to deliver natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to market would cost up to $65 billion. That price tag would include pipeline, liquefaction plant, storage tanks and an export terminal, according to Larry Persily, Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects.

Monday’s meeting in Juneau follows a similar meeting in September between Parnell and Choo, who’s also met with Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan. 

“These efforts are critical because an Alaska project must compete with other large-scale LNG projects under development around the world,” Parnell said in a press release. “We have stability and reliability working in our favor, and a vast untapped supply -- yet we must remain aware of proposed projects in other areas with access to the Pacific Rim.”

Australia, for instance, may soon dominate the world natural gas market. With more than a half-dozen major LNG projects on horizon, the country is poised to become the world’s largest LNG exporter by 2017, shooting past Qatar. Canada and East Africa are ramping up, too, after discoveries there.

Just weeks ago, Mikkal Herberg told the Alaska World Affairs Council that the Asian natural gas market is “extremely complicated.” 

Herberg, a senior lecturer on international and Asian energy at the University of California-San Diego has spent 20 years working in the oil industry. “I don't have an answer if (Alaska's) LNG project can really make a go of it,” he said at the time. “But I realize the angst and the agony of trying to market North Slope gas.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 to clarify misleading information surrounding the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act and subsidies the state has paid to TransCanada Corp. We regret the error.