JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles has signed a bill aimed at encouraging the construction of a pipeline to bring the North Slope's vast natural gas reserves to market.
''Trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are available on the North Slope, but it requires the state's help to get it to market,'' Knowles said. ''This bill is another step in that direction, making technical changes in state law to create a more certain playing field that is needed to encourage gasline development.''
House Bill 290, sponsored by the House Resources Committee, modifies several areas of state law to clarify that, except in terms of setting rates, the pipeline would be subject only to the Alaska Pipeline Act, and not the Alaska Public Utilities Regulatory Act.
That would allow the state to regulate the pipeline as a common carrier only for gas shipped to utilities within the state, but not for exported gas.
Potential developers contend the pipeline would likely not be built unless marketers can commit to ship large fixed volumes of gas to foreign markets for a lengthy period of time. A common carrier requirement could interfere with such export commitments.
The bill preserves the authority of the Department of Natural Resources to oversee the pipeline and related facilities and extends the jurisdiction of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to transportation of natural gas within the state.
HB 290 passed both bodies of the Legislature without opposition.
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