(Reuters) - TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) said on Monday it will gauge interest from potential shippers in a project to move Alaska North Slope gas to a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal on the Pacific Coast, further moving away from the concept of long-haul pipeline to U.S. markets.
TransCanada and its partner, Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), said they will seek non-binding expressions of interest in a $26 billion line that would move the fuel - which has long been stranded with no access to markets - to a new LNG plant on the south-central Alaska coast or a pipeline interconnection on the border with British Columbia and Alberta.
Until this year, TransCanada routinely referred to a $40 billion pipeline to the main Alberta pipeline network as the top option for a project that has been under consideration since the 1970s. Alaska has long sought an outlet for large reserves on the North Slope.
However, the discovery of vast quantities of shale gas reserves throughout the United States and Canada has pulled prices close to 10-year lows, making the viability of developing Arctic gas as a supply source for southern markets questionable.
LNG exports to lucrative markets in Asia have increasingly been mentioned as a possibility for Alaska gas.
TransCanada said it would conduct its “solicitation of interest” between August 31 and September 14.
Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Editing by Bernard Orr and David Gregorio