Sen. Murkowski calls for gas line meeting

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Sen. Frank Murkowski is calling for those interested in developing Alaska's North Slope gas reserves to a meet in Washington D.C. early next year.

Murkowski said he wants to get the gas producers and pipeline companies together sometime in late January or early February.

''If they don't want to meet together then we'll extend the invitation individually,'' Murkowski said.

A study group organized by Alaska's three major gas owners -- BP, Exxon Mobil and Phillips Petroleum -- has concluded that a pipeline is not economically feasible at this time. Their final report hasn't been issued, however.

But pipeline companies have been more optimistic about the project than the producers. A consortium of American and Canadian companies that had first proposed the gasline in the 1970s has agreed to resolve financial issues associated with the project and will present a gasline proposal to producers early next year.

Murkowski said he hopes to include representatives from the state of Alaska in the meetings, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

He also suggested increased state involvement in any pipeline construction.

''There are some distinct advantages to the state, the state's regulatory and revenue capability, that favor a relationship with the pipeline companies,'' Murkowski said. ''If that doesn't happen, we can legislate it.''

Asked to clarify whether he was advocating that the state be a part owner of the pipeline, Murkowski said he thought it should be kept open as an option.

''I wouldn't rule it out,'' he said.

The meetings Murkowski seeks probably would be private get-togethers followed by news conferences rather than public hearings, he said.

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