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Borough moves to help pipeline

Public land to be onshore route for Cook Inlet oil project

Posted: December 4, 2013 - 1:58pm  |  Updated: December 4, 2013 - 9:40pm
Kenai Peninsula Borough Land between Cook Inlet and the Kenai Spur Highway selected by the Cook Inlet Energy for an oil pipeline route originating on the west side of the inlet and ending in the Nikiski Industrial Area. The assembly on Tuesday reclassified the former gravel pit, which was previously set aside for public use, as "utility" land in preparation to lease the property to the oil company.  Greg Skinner
Greg Skinner
Kenai Peninsula Borough Land between Cook Inlet and the Kenai Spur Highway selected by the Cook Inlet Energy for an oil pipeline route originating on the west side of the inlet and ending in the Nikiski Industrial Area. The assembly on Tuesday reclassified the former gravel pit, which was previously set aside for public use, as "utility" land in preparation to lease the property to the oil company.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday approved a resolution to reclassify 4.7 acres north of Kenai to make the land usable in a Cook Inlet Energy LLC pipeline project.

As part of the consent agenda during the regular meeting, the assembly passed the resolution to reclassify the acreage located at the corner of the Kenai Spur Highway and Katlins Way, just north of Nikiski Fire Station 1, as "utility/transportation" land. The move opens the borough-owned land for lease as a pipeline corridor to deliver crude oil to the Nikiski Industrial Area from the Kustatan Production facility on the west side of Cook Inlet.

The proposed lease was introduced as Ordinance 2013-35 during the Policy and Procedures Committee earlier in the day and during the regular meeting. The lease ordinance is up for public hearing during the Jan. 7 regular assembly meeting.

A borough staff report describes the land as an abandoned former gravel pit on a steep bluff, which erodes at a rate of 2.2 feet a year. The site sits above the beach used "intensively" for commercial, recreational and personal uses, such as beach combing, camping and boat launching. The surrounding bluff-top land is largely undeveloped residential and the beach below home to Shore Fishery Leases.

The lease value to the borough is estimated to be $5,000 a year.

Borough lands manager Marcus Mueller and said that public notice given within a half-mile radius drew no comment. According to a document from the borough lands office Cook Inlet proposed the reclassification and lease. The state is in the process of issuing permits for the same project, he said.

Cook Inlet Energy would build the underground pipeline as part of the Trans-Foreland Pipeline Project to move ashore from a 26-mile underwater 8-inch pipe delivering crude oil from the west side of the inlet then down the Kenai Spur Highway to the Nikiski Industrial area.

Responding to a question by Assembly President Hal Smalley, Mueller said for a period of time the land was talked about as potential public access to the beach below — which the state patented as perpetual public access.

During an afternoon presentation to the Lands Committee, Mueller said his assessment was that "direct beach access was not feasible."

It is too steep for direct road access. The elevation difference between the highway and the beach is about 80 feet spread over the 600-foot distance the slope would end up at 13.5 percent, he said.

Regardless of the borough assessment on access impossibility, the land holds at least two trails accessing the upper portion above the beach. One on the north boundary of the property holds a graded trail used by snowmachines and foot traffic another on the south boundary is slightly steeper and well used.

The proposed lease with Cook Inlet Energy does not contemplate public use, Mueller said.

A call to Cook Inlet Energy. asking if the borough-owned site was the company’s only onshore option, was referred to company CEO David Hall. Hall did not immediately return a call seeking comment

Before agreeing to put the resolution on the evening's consent agenda, District 6 assembly member Sue McClure said the project was contingent on Ordinance 2013-35 passing in January 

Reach Greg Skinner at greg.skinner@peninsulaclarion.com

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