The question was raised at an Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority meeting about whether a direct pipeline from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska, called a bullet line, should become the group's primary focus.
"For now, we're going to stick to what we're doing, which is to focus on the spur line," said ANGDA CEO Harold Heinze in an interview.
ANGDA, a state corporation, is laying the groundwork to build a spur pipeline that would connect to a proposed larger gas pipeline in Glennallen and could deliver up to 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day to Palmer. It would then be hooked up to the Enstar pipeline system.
However, the time frame for building it is dependent on when a larger pipeline can be completed.
If a spur pipeline is not built, the backup plan is the direct pipeline that would deliver natural gas directly from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska, called a bullet line.
Heinze said a bullet line could be built in five to seven years.
"We believe that the spur line itself can be done very quickly," Heinze said.
However, it is difficult to start that project and know when it could be completed until ANGDA knows what the producers are doing, Heinze said, referring to the proposed larger pipeline that a spur line would hook up to.
The group has been working on a project that would bring North Slope natural gas to Southcentral Alaska a region of the state facing natural gas shortages as early as 2009.
Because of the spur line's dependence on a main gas line, the board probed Steve Porter, a member of Gov. Frank Murkowski's stranded gas negotiation team and deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue, for information on the stranded gas negotiations. The negotiations are taking place behind closed doors.
"We're just becoming a little impatient," said ANGDA chair Andy Warwick in an interview.
"At the end of the day, we were very satisfied with an approach where from now until the fall, we are going to continue to gather information that advances a spur line," Heinze said.
He said the bullet line is a fall back. Most of ANGDA's energy is on advancing the spur line from a "desk exercise" to gathering more field information to making it a reality, he said.
In an interview after the meeting, Warwick agreed with Heinze.
"We're slowly working toward positioning ourselves for a bullet line, but it's premature to focus all of our energy on that," Warwick said. "We need to give the governor a chance to negotiate a deal on the big line."
In the interview, Warwick said making a spur line the top priority still makes sense if there is going to be a Chicago line, because the two projects compliment each other. A bullet line would be a duplication of efforts, he said.
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