Alaska governor says design work to start on new LNG project
JUNEAU, Alaska July 3 (Reuters) - The state of Alaska and four energy firms have signed a joint-venture agreement to begin preliminary work on an 800-mile natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant, Governor Sean Parnell said Wednesday.
The agreement calls for partners to invest millions in so-called front-end engineering and design work over the next 18 months for the project, which could ultimately cost between $45 billion and $65 billion.
The agreement comes two months after the state's legislature backed Parnell's plan to work with North Slope leaseholders Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and BP, plus pipeline company TransCanada on a project development contract.
That contract will have to be ratified by the legislature and is still forthcoming, likely by the end of 2015.
Wednesday's agreement means all the partners are involved in field work currently under way, Parnell told Reuters.
"Real work is beginning now on engineering, design and environmental field work," Parnell said. "The state is now a full partner."
Gas could hit local and foreign markets and feed Asia's rising demand for LNG in the mid-2020s, according to the state's projections.
The state has a history of exporting natural gas from Cook Inlet to Asian markets dating to the 1960s.
Still, the state's efforts to market North Slope gas have been tripped up by market changes, such as the emergence of shale gas, and tied up in political battles between the legislature and executive branch. Continued...