Fairbanks Natural Gas Seeks to Expand With Alaska Gasline Port Authority
Fairbanks’ natural gas distributor is plowing ahead with expansion plans even as a potential public partner seeks approval to participate or to pursue its own project.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks’ natural gas distributor is plowing ahead with expansion plans even as a potential public partner seeks approval to participate or to pursue its own project.
Mark Figura, attorney for Fairbanks Natural Gas, told state regulators July 6 that the firm’s plan to merge with the municipally led Alaska Gasline Port Authority is “at this time not progressing toward closing.”
Figura wrote that the company and a sister company will “actively develop the LNG project, and progress is being made in several areas.”
The company, which currently trucks liquefied natural gas from Cook Inlet, wants to tap vast North Slope gas fields to supply its Fairbanks operation.
The publicly led port authority had until this spring worked with FNG to prepare for the project. The plan, according to both sides, was for the port authority to buy FNG and finance the expansion.
But the port authority — created 12 years ago to pursue a larger pipeline project — faces an Oct. 4 vote in the Fairbanks North Star Borough on the question of whether its formal mission statement should include a shorter-term trucking option. The Fairbanks borough is one of the port authority’s founding local governments.
Jim Whitaker, chairman of the port authority, said nothing would prevent the two sides from teaming up again after the vote and that both froze purchase plans once a few factors became clear. The first factor, he said, was the recognition voters would need to weigh in. Second, he said, was word the expansion’s biggest potential customer — Golden Valley Electric Association — was looking at a similar development proposal.
FNG has for three years discussed plans to tap North Slope natural gas and truck it south. But the company has tried at least two financing options, first through state government and then, starting two years ago, the port authority.
Whitaker said the ballot measure still carries value despite a pause in the AGPA-FNG purchase plan.
“It keeps an option on the table,” he said.
That option has been in the spotlight all year. On Thursday, the Borough Assembly will review plans to split a $500,000 grant between a pair of studies related to natural gas. The state Legislature approved the grant for a broad cost-benefit analysis of LNG development options and for a study specific to distribution in Fairbanks.
Contact staff writer Christopher Eshleman at 459-7582.