ANCHORAGE (AP) A former oil company president and head of the state's natural resources department has been appointed to head the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority.
Harold Heinze, 60, the former president of Arco Alaska, was named chief executive officer of the authority at a meeting of the board of directors in Anchorage on Monday.
Heinze told the Valdez Star that his first job will be to develop a master plan in the next year to develop and bring Alaska's natural gas to market.
The job, he said, will require him ''to keep an open mind and be creative. The development of the state's natural gas reserves has never been looked at from a state perspective before.''
Creation of the authority was mandated by Alaska voters last November. It calls for a line from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez where the gas would be liquefied for shipment to West Coast and Pacific Rim markets. The ballot proposition also called for the gas to begin flowing by the year 2007.
Heinze is an old hand in the Alaska energy business. As a young petroleum engineer, he arrived in the state in 1969, a member of a group of professionals dispatched by the oil majors to bring Prudhoe Bay oil to market.
He rose to become president of Arco. Later, he served as commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources in the second administration of Gov. Walter Hickel.
As an adviser to Hickel, Heinze made several trips to Pacific Rim nations developing relationships with business groups and promoting Alaska natural gas.
The authority is operating on limited funding. Gov. Frank Murkowski granted just $150,000 to the agency, describing it as seed money to develop a master plan.
Heinze's annual salary is set at $101,424. But Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Steve Porter said Heinze will only be paid $67,600 from now through mid March of next year, when the plan for bringing gas to market will be reviewed by the Alaska Legislature. That's when lawmakers will decide whether to approve a new budget for the authority.
Heinze acknowledged that the funding was meager, but said it's enough ''to get a grip on just what we will be working on. We're now in the discovery phase and we keep tripping over new challenges we have to face.''
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