Lining out gas options

Gov. Murkowski open to all plans, staff member says

Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Gov. Frank Murkowski is negotiating with all three entities who want to bring stranded North Slope natural gas to market and will go with the best proposal, said Bill Noll, communications director for Murkowski at Tuesday's Soldotna Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

"Those three proposals are actively being pursued," Noll said. "The governor is listening to every single one of these people."

In a interview, Noll said his visit to Soldotna was to talk about the performance of the administration. During his talk, he said Murkowski instructed him to spend "99 percent" of the time talking about the gas line.

Three entities want to bring North Slope stranded gas to market. ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and BP Exploration (Alaska) want to build a pipeline that delivers natural gas to the Midwest. Canadian company TransCanada wants to build a pipeline through Canada that hooks up to the natural gas pipeline system in Alberta. The Alaska Gasline Port Authority, or AGPA, wants to build a pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez, where it will be converted into liquid for shipment to North American gas markets.

However, funding for AGPA's proposal fell through when Sempra Energy withdrew financial participation in May.

Murkowski had a meeting with AGPA on Friday to discuss a new interested buyer for Alaska's North Slope natural gas.

At a June 27 Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority meeting, Steve Porter, deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Revenue and a member of Murkowski's negotiating team, said there had been no detailed communications with AGPA since Sempra pulled its funding.

"We've been talking with AGPA all along," said Murkowski spokesman Mike Chambers. "I can't characterize what level of talks Murkowski is having with them. We continue to listen to them."

In a Tuesday telephone interview, Porter said he has had "informal" communication with AGPA all along. However, Friday was the first formal meeting the state had with AGPA since around the time Sempra pulled its funding, he said. Porter added that he could not specifically recall when the last formal meeting with AGPA was.

"For a maximum benefit to be obtained, more formal discussion is warranted," said Ryan Colgan, executive administrator for AGPA. "The Port Authority is willing to aggressively pursue meetings of (a formal) nature and are prepared to match or exceed the governor's desire to engage in those discussions."

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