Good news from the Cook Inlet basin

More good news from the Cook Inlet basin: ConocoPhillips has filed for a permit to resume liquefied natural gas exports from its Nikiski plant.

The possible resumption of natural gas exports is just one of many developments in the region’s oil and gas industry, but it’s an important one. Over the past several years, concerns have been raised about potential shortages of gas for Alaska consumers as production and new exploration had tapered off.

But with smaller independent companies moving into the region, exploration and production are ramping back up, and another option for marketing natural gas is crucial to ensuring that trend continues. As ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Natalie Lowman told the Clarion, “Resuming exports is good for the natural gas market. If you don’t have a place to sell your gas why would you look for more?”

The move benefits the region multiple ways. According to Lowman, plant operations include about 50 direct jobs and 120 indirect jobs. There’s also the jobs created by other companies exploring and producing gas. There’s payroll and property tax benefits, and the boon for the economy as those payroll dollars circulate through local businesses.

Beyond the economic impacts, the LNG plant has been an important part of the natural gas infrastructure in Cook Inlet, helping to ensure a steady gas supply to the region’s consumers. Permits would require exports to stop if natural gas is needed locally. Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash, his letter asking ConocoPhillips to seek an export permit, noted that in addition to economic health and continued resource development, would also promote energy security for Alaskans.

When it comes to the oil and gas industry in Cook Inlet, there continues to be many moving pieces. An additional option to bring gas to market is a positive step toward keeping those pieces in motion.

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