Alaska gas project hailed by Palin still embryonic

Thu Sep 4, 2008 6:57pm EDT
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By Yereth Rosen

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A long-delayed natural gas pipeline championed by Gov. Sarah Palin that would carry supplies from Alaska to Canada and then to the lower 48 states exists in concept only and is years away from fruition.

The vice presidential hopeful, in her speech Wednesday to the Republican National Convention, said she fought to bring about "the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history" to bolster America's energy security.

"And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence," Palin said.

But plans for the pipeline that would ship gas from Alaska's North Slope -- a project envisioned since the 1970s -- remain on the drawing board.

"No, it hasn't been started, and that's on the record," said Paul Laird, executive director of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, an oil field service trade group.

No question, Palin has been a strong pipeline advocate.

Last month, the state legislature endorsed her recommendation to award TransCanada Corp a license to build a 1,715-mile pipeline to Western Canada from Prudhoe Bay. In Alberta, the gas could be diverted to the United States on TransCanada's existing lines.

But there is no commitment to actually build it. The Canadian firm must still convince the state's major gas producers that its project is their best bet.   Continued...

<p>Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin speaks to reporters at the Republican Governor's Association gathering at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 4, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>