Chenault: In-State Gas Line the Only Pipeline Project Progressing
JUNEAU — House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said the state-backed natural gas pipeline appears to be the only pipeline project moving forward.
Chenault has been a longtime backer of the state’s efforts to build a pipeline to serve in-state energy needs and has backed legislation that would allow the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to continue forward with the project.
During the weekly House Majority press conference, Chenault told reporters he hopes the North Slope oil and gas producers are serious about building a proposed large-diameter pipeline for foreign export, but said the timeline is unclear.
“We haven’t heard anything since December when the governor got the letter from the big three,” he said. “What we heard was the project is $45 (billion) to $65 billion; in my book, that’s a good chunk of change. I hope that there’s some commitment, but I just don’t know when that commitment is going to happen.”
He said AGDC’s effort, which detailed a reworked project in Fairbanks this week, has a clear timeline and clear goals.
“It looks like they’re the only timeline that’s moving forward. ... AGDC brings a lot to the table, it’s got the right of way permits for all the state land and they just completed an environmental impact study,” he said. “They’re moving forward.”
Gov. Sean Parnell has backed both projects, setting a Feb. 15 deadline for industry backers of the large-diameter pipeline to submit a concept design and calling on the Legislature to pass a bill supporting the AGDC.
Parnell said he hopes the two projects will be able to merge eventually, but hasn’t set a deadline for such a merger.
Earlier this week, Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, expressed optimism for the large-diameter line, saying such a line would not only serve energy needs of Alaskans but also put people to work and put money into the state treasury.
Bishop, who is co-chairman of the Senate Special Committee on In-State Energy and a member of the Senate Resources Committee, said he’s interested in giving both projects a fair look before giving them the Legislature’s blessing and won’t presume anything until he sees the details.