Alaska Governor Parnell Reveals Details of Proposed Large-Diameter Natural Gas Line
While the desire for a concrete update is understandable, Federal Pipeline Coordinator Larry Persily said the scant details likely are caused by the vast size of the project and the effort it takes to get four companies to agree.
“I have no doubt that most Alaskans will be disappointed about there not being more specifics,” he said. “No doubt after 40 years Alaskans are wary about incremental project updates, but that’s the nature of a $65 billion project,” he said. “This is a huge risk to undertake a project of this size.”
Persily noted that the announcement means that a full summer of field work, as requested by the governor, is still on track. He said it’ll be best if Alaskans reserve judgment on the project until then.
“Let’s face it, the oil and gas industry is never going to win an award for sharing information with the public,” he said. “Yes, it’s frustrating but there is some progress in there.”
Hearing the news, the key backer of the state’s effort to build its own natural gas pipeline, Rep. Mike Hawker, said it’s evidence that the state should continue moving ahead. The Anchorage Republican lawmaker is the prime sponsor of House Bill 4, which grants powers to the state’s Alaska Gasline Development Corp. to build a small-diameter pipeline for in-state use.
“Our communities, Fairbanks especially, have been waiting for gas for 30 years,” he said. “The limited announced progress from this concept selection document is exactly why we’re moving forward with House Bill 4.”
Hawker said he remains cautiously optimistic about the prospect of a large-diameter line, but he said Alaskans can’t wait much longer.
“It was a very preliminary concept selection, very broad, very high-level,” he said. “I think if anything, what we saw today still raises the question of how long do Alaskans have to wait to see a real project materialize here.”