U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today welcomed an agreement reached between the three major North Slope producers and a pipeline company to advance a liquefied natural gas project to export Alaskan gas to Pacific Rim countries.
"Yesterday's agreement on a timeline with firm deadlines for advancing an LNG export project is encouraging news and shows progress is being made on commercializing our North Slope gas reserves," Murkowski said. "No other single project is as important to Alaska's economic future as a gas line, so it's critical that the state and the producers move quickly to take advantage of the potentially limited window of opportunity to sell gas into the Asian market."
A joint letter from the three largest North Slope leaseholders -- Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and BP -- and pipeline company TransCanada Corp. aligns all the major commercial players behind a single project to commercialize gas reserves at Prudhoe Bay and Point Thomson.
The letter, released late Wednesday by Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, calls the LNG project one of the largest and most expensive in the world with an estimated construction cost upwards of $65 billion.
"Given the size and scope of this project, it's vital that state leaders hammer out an agreement on the financial ground rules that will govern gas sales in the future," Murkowski said. "While the producers have agreed on a roadmap, without economic terms to make such a huge undertaking feasible, progress on a pipeline will quickly hit a roadblock."
Murkowski continues to meet with top officials from Japan and South Korea -- countries that a wholly dependent on imports to meet their energy needs -- on the advantages of purchasing Alaska LNG. As shale gas producers in the Lower 48 look for new markets outside of the United States, it's crucial that Alaska move quickly to secure a place for its North Slope reserves, Murkowski said.
While exports are central to a gas line project, Murkowski repeated her belief that North Slope gas should also be used to provide affordable energy to Fairbanks and Southcentral communities.
Murkowski has also been pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to sign off on Exxon Mobil's plan to develop the Point Thomson field, which is a crucial part of any gas pipeline project.
As the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Interior and Environmental Appropriations Subcommittee, Murkowski is responsible for overseeing the federal agencies involved in permitting an export project, including the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).