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TransCanada shutters Yukon office supporting Alaska gasline project

Alex DeMarban
Aaron Jansen illustration

There's been no funeral for the Alaska-through-Canada gasline, a project once held up by oil companies as the shining salvation of the state's uncertain economic prospects.

But pipeline giant TransCanada Corp. is shutting down its project office in Whitehorse, the capital of Canada's Yukon territory, another sign that current plans for a highway route delivering North Slope natural gas to the Lower 48 are dead.

In the last year, Alaska's leadership and oil companies have said they're shifting their attention to an all-state line that would deliver North Slope gas to a port in Southcentral Alaska. There, that gas could be turned into a liquid at a plant and be loaded onto tankers bound for Asia, the idea goes.

That renewed approach to a decades-old route -- Alaskans have wished, prayed and hoped for construction of a massive gasline since the 1970s -- has led to TransCanada to shut down its Whitehorse office.

"I can confirm that we have chosen to not renew the lease for our Whitehorse office," said TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard, in a prepared media statement.

"For many years, TransCanada maintained a basic office in Whitehorse, primarily for staff to use when they were in the area because of our involvement in the Alaska Pipeline Project.

"The work that they completed has been preserved while we examine the opportunity for a natural gas pipeline to service a potential Southcentral Alaska LNG facility. As a result, this expense was not justified at this time so we decided not to renew the lease."

The closure led a Canadian media site to question whether that country should continue funding an agency created "decades ago," the reporter says, to "shepherd the dream of the Alaska Pipeline through the regulatory process."

On the other side of the border, the federal pipeline coordinator's office in the U.S., an agency created by Congress eight years ago to help guide the pipeline to reality, faces similar questions about its own future.

Contact Alex DeMarban at alex(at)alaskadispatch.com