Alaska deal with Japan's JBIC offers hope for LNG exports

Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:04am EDT
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By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Alaska has signed an agreement with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to investigate natural resource exports in a renewed sign of demand for the state's natural gas, officials said on Wednesday.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) covers a variety of potential natural resource projects, but emphasizes Alaska's ambitions to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan and other Asian markets.

It was signed in Tokyo by Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan and JBIC managing director Koichi Yajima.

"It boosts the credibility of Alaska's projects and efforts," Sullivan said in a phone interview from Japan.

JBIC has been financially involved in almost all major LNG projects in Japan, and has focused recently on Australia exports, Sullivan said.

Alaska's North Slope has known reserves of 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and probably 200 trillion cubic feet in all, according to the MOU.

Yet a lack of transportation for it and a committed market have left the gas stranded, while the costs of a pipeline have been deemed uneconomic since the 1970s.

A recent surge of U.S. natural gas output has only dimmed its prospects, according to state officials.   Continued...