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Work on bullet line continues

Posted: November 20, 2011 - 9:03pm

Engineering and planning for a 24-inch natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska by a state of Alaska corporation is continuing for now, despite new gas discoveries in Cook Inlet.

Escopeta Oil recently announced that it had discovered natural gas in Cook Inlet. Escopeta representatives told Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s Energy Task Force that the company would not be able to confirm proven natural gas reserves until next summer, said Dave Harbour, a spokesman for Alaska Gasline Development Corp., which is planning the 737-mile, 24-inch pipeline project.

Escopeta has estimated its discovery at about 1.4 tcf in recoverable resources, but further testing is needed.

Meanwhile, AGDC officials said work on the 24-inch pipeline from the Slope must continue if the project is to stay on schedule to meet Southcentral Alaska energy needs if Escopeta’s find doesn’t work out.

“The Legislature, with Governor (Sean) Parnell’s support, created the ADGC in 2010 to ensure that by the end of the decade Interior and Southcentral Alaska citizens have adequate supplies of natural gas at the lowest possible price. We remain dedicated to that mission,” Dan Fauske, CEO of the state corporation, said in a statement.

House Speaker Mike Chenault said it is important to continue support for the in-state gas pipeline as a fallback.

There is an estimated 35 tcf of gas that has been discovered on the North Slope. TransCanada Corp. and ExxonMobil Corp. are working on a proposed 48-inch pipeline from northern Alaska to Alberta, but the project appears to have bogged down following large new shale gas discoveries Outside.

Parnell recently asked North Slope producers and TransCanada to reconsider LNG exports from Alaska as an alternative, but whether that might happen is uncertain.

Fauske, of ADGC, has said previously that if a large-diameter pipeline is built from the Slope, the state’s 24-inch pipeline project would become a spur line off the larger pipeline. But if the big line continues to stall the state should be prepared to build the 24-inch line all the way to the Slope, he said.

The state pipeline corporation is now working on a federal Environmental Impact Statement for its project and in securing of a federal right-of-way, said Dave Haugen, project manager. The draft of the EIS is now expected in early spring. The schedule for the EIS has slipped. It had been expected in September.

A right-of-way across state lands has already been secured for the project, he said.

This winter AGDC’s technical group will be evaluating data gathered in the 2011 summer field program, and planning is also under way for the 2012 field program, Haugen said.

Much of the field work is focused on river crossings, including the Yukon and Tanana rivers, as well as at Atigun Pass in the Brooks Range, where there is constricted space because the existing trans-Alaska oil pipeline also uses the pass.

The Legislature has appropriated $44 million over the last two years to support work on the 24-inch pipeline. A state appropriation will be requested for continued work in 2013 but Parnell has not yet approved the amount, according to ADGC financial officer Joe Dubler.

The appropriation is expected to be part of the governor’s fiscal year 2013 budget request that will be released Dec. 15. The Legislature must approve the appropriation.

AGDC has previously said that it will need to spend about $400 million in engineering, planning and the acquisition of permits by the time the project is approved for construction.

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ziggyak 11/22/11 - 08:27 pm
Just wondering would power plants on the slope be cheaper?

I know that it cost a lot of money to build a pipe line and to be able to afford the gas after paying for the line may not be practical. So my question is how about shipping power generated on the North Slope. Has anyone considered this?

BigRedDog 11/23/11 - 07:26 am
To much GAS

Just so everybody knows, a lot of very smart people have been studying all aspects of doing anything that can be done for a long time. The main problem with generation and transmission from the Slope south is the existing power plants spinning right now. How will the Generation Coops pay for these plants if cheaper power is available? With Chugach and ML&P now spending millions on that new gas generation plant in south Anchorage somebody has to pay for that. The problem, again is that there is so much gas it is hindering the production of oil. Because there is an ever increasing amount of gas being produced with the oil, and operators are forced to inject that gas back into the oil field causing more gas at every wellhead. To pay the expense of buying the State's royalty portion of that gas would make oil to expensive to make it pay. So gas cannot be flared to enhance oil production resulting in our situation, we have way to much gas! Maybe with the advent of the new ice breaker it would make it pay to place large LNG plants right at the north slope tidewater. So before we start that gas-line I hope somebody is smart enough to dust of Wagley's Oil Field Services old plans for building the pipeline. They had a pipeline laying machine that was a track driven self propelled pipe factory. It could go right over a mountain assembling welding wrapping and burying the line at over a mile a day! Almost 2 miles a day on level ground. Why don't we build about two or three of them and Rock!

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