Haines seeks role in gas pipeline

Posted: Wednesday, September 06, 2000

HAINES (AP) -- The mayor of Haines wants a a branch of a proposed natural gas pipeline to stretch to his Lynn Canal community, making it an export site for sending gas to other Southeast Alaska towns and overseas.

With high energy prices boosting the likelihood of a pipeline tapping the North Slope's vast gas resources, supporters of three different routes are making pitches to the state. Yukon Pacific Corp. wants to bring the gas through Valdez and Arctic Resources is pushing a northern line through the Beaufort Sea and Canada's Mackenzie River Delta.

The state, however, is leaning toward a pipeline through Fairbanks that would straddle the Alaska Highway south to markets in the Lower 48. For Don Otis, mayor of the city of Haines, that route raises the happy prospect of spur to Haines.

''The best route to deliver natural gas to a deep-water port is through Haines,'' Otis wrote to Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles last week.

''The pipeline could be split at Haines Junction, going toward the Lower 48 down the Alaska Highway, then south to Haines where the markets of Southeast Alaska could be served as well as providing Alaska with the option of exporting to Asia and other markets,'' Otis wrote.

Haines Chamber of Commerce president Robert Venables said he's excited about the prospect, noting that the Alyeska oil terminal at Valdez has made that municipality wealthy.

''Valdez has a savings account of $71 million and no local taxes. Why shouldn't we pursue this?'' Venables told the Chilkat Valley News.

Knowles spokesman Bob King said the administration hasn't discussed a Haines spur yet but the he idea meets one of Knowles' conditions for state support of a pipeline -- benefit for Alaska communities.

The economics of a Haines spur hasn't been considered but natural gas shipped from the port could be used as heating fuel or for electrical generation in Southeast towns and villages, King said.

Knowles, who recently said he wants to see the project started within two years, is set to meet soon with Yukon Territory Premier Pat Duncan.

King said a Haines option may be discussed. ''Who knows? This matter may come up. It's an interesting idea.''

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