Alaska Stand Alone Gas Pipeline holds town hall meeting...

ASAP generally means do it "As soon as possible!" which, describes most Alaskans opinion regarding the building of a pipeline to take North Slope natural gas to market, any market as long as energy needs are met first in Alaska. However, ASAP has also become the popular acronym for Alaska Stand Alone Gas Pipeline project plan which resulted from 2010 legislation tasking the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) with producing a project plan for developing an in-state natural gas pipeline. Last week Dan Fauske president of AGDC came to Kenai to hold a town meeting to educate local residents about the feasibility and progress of the project, "It was also an opportunity for public input and questions or opposition to the project to be voiced. We have found the majority of folks are not only supportive but impressed as to how far we have actually come along in the process, given that we were only given one year to complete the plan," said Fauske in an interview with the Dispatch.

Fauske admits that there is still much confusion between the AGIA Trans Canada gas pipeline and the ASAP project but does not feel that the projects are in competition with one another, "Regardless of what is happening with markets in the lower 48 or whether AGIA is built or not our mandate came from the people of Alaska saying we have to insure that something happens for the residents of the state to supply energy to our own citizens. We hope AGIA goes forward and we can merge this project with another larger one, but our basis and the core of our plan is to get gas to Alaskans at the lowest possible cost that being said our plan does have a commercial component in it," explained Fauske.

The timeline put forth in the ASAP plan calls for construction to begin in 2015 and is estimated to create 16,000 jobs during construction and on going employment at an estimated 8,000 jobs. The projected costs for the 100% state owned model are $7.2 billion dollars which would be recovered through the tariff charged to shippers over the life of the project. According to the plan revenue would also be received through gas royalty taxes paid by producers. With a public/private partnership the State's investment is estimated at approximately $400 million dollars which would be recovered from future gas royalty and taxes. AGDC's financial analysis concluded that state ownership makes economic sense, with a private developer building and operating the project.

Currently ASAP is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain the schedule for issuing an Environmental Impact Statement by mid-year 2012. The plan calls for the use of existing state highway and railroad rights-of-way to the maximum extent feasible as well as bridges and other existing facilities and resources to the maximum extent feasible. "We were very pleased at the turn out for the Kenai meeting; the questions were tremendous and showed a great deal of interest by local residents. I believe this project would be a great thing for the people of Alaska and I just want to see a project come forward," added Fauske. The legislature is currently reviewing the ASAP Project Plan.