Local officials promote Nikiski terminus for natural gas pipeline

Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- Work by local officials to promote Nikiski over Valdez as the terminus for a pipeline to export North Slope natural gas appear to be paying off.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce both have passed resolutions supporting a Cook Inlet pipeline terminus.

''It seems to make sense for where a lot of Alaska's population lives,'' said Joe Griffith, executive manager of finance and energy supply for Chugach Electric Association, who introduced the Anchorage chamber resolution. ''We're high users of gas for heat and electrical generation.''

Bill Popp, president of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, said the Anchorage and Mat-Su endorsements are extremely important.

''Those are two of the largest population centers in the state, and they lie directly along the route of the pipeline,'' he said. ''You've got to have local support all along the route of the pipeline to make this work.''

For years, everyone assumed that if a gas line was built, it would follow the existing oil pipeline to Valdez, said former Kenai borough Mayor Mike Navarre. The city of Valdez and the North Slope and Fairbanks Northstar boroughs have formed a port authority to build a gas line to Valdez.

However, an industry group including BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Phillips Petroleum Co., Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. and Marubeni Corp. is exploring the feasibility of a pipeline to either Valdez or Nikiski. The Kenai borough assembly has appropriated $100,000 to promote Nikiski as the terminus.

Kenai borough Mayor Dale Bagley said he soon will invite the Municipality of Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough to join the Cook Inlet Pipeline Terminus Group, a task force the Kenai borough formed to promote Nikiski as the pipeline terminus.

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