U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, met this week with executives from the North Slope's three major producers to discuss the current state of plans and next steps for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project for commercializing Alaska's gas resources.
"I wanted to hear directly from the companies about where they are in the planning and design process, and what they see as the next step to advance the project," Murkowski said.
Murkowski said she was encouraged by the level of cooperation that now seems to exist between Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and BP around a single export project to monetize the North Slope's 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Monday's meeting included Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America; John Minge, president of BP Exploration Alaska; Matt Fox, executive vice president of exploration and production for ConocoPhillips; and Rich Kruger, president of Exxon Mobil Production Co.
The biggest hurdle facing the project, according to the producers, is the uncertainty of Alaska's fiscal regime, an issue they have repeatedly testified about before the Alaska State Legislature.
Murkowski said it's important that Alaska price its gas competitively in the world market to ensure development of a project that's estimated to cost as much as $65 billion. But she also pressed the executives of all three companies on the importance of moving quickly to seize the opportunity to ship Alaska gas to the energy hungry markets of Japan, South Korea and the rest of the Pacific Rim.
"Alaskans have waited for four decades to see some benefit from their North Slope gas. While Lower 48 markets may be oversupplied because of the shale boom, places like Japan and South Korea are willing to pay a premium for long-term supply contracts," Murkowski said. "But that window of opportunity will not remain open indefinitely."
Murkowski continues to promote the development of Alaska's North Slope gas reserves as the state's senior U.S. senator and as the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Over the past year, Murkowski has held a number of meetings with Japanese and South Korean officials to discuss the benefits of a securing a long-term supply of gas from Alaska. This summer, she brought her Senate Energy Committee colleagues, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Or., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., to the state on separate trips to show them Alaska's vast energy resources.