Saturday, May 18, 2013
Gas Pipeline Chief Says He'll Keep Fairbanks Up To Date
The state’s intrastate natural gas chief said Tuesday he’ll keep Fairbanks “in the loop” as a major proposal advances.
FAIRBANKS — The state’s intrastate natural gas chief said Tuesday he’ll keep Fairbanks “in the loop” as a major proposal advances.
The promise from Dan Fauske, president of the year-old Alaska Gasline Development Corp., follows word a trans-Alaska gas pipeline could prove more fruitful than previously expected.
Fauske acknowledged big uncertainties — no surprise given the proposal’s mega-project scope.
The two biggest questions are whether such a line will be built or whether it would even be needed if a larger trans-continental option gains traction.
But Fauske told the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce to prepare energy-starved Fairbanks for more natural gas one way or another.
He advised against ignoring other, shorter-term options such as the possibility natural gas could be trucked south from the North Slope or even shipped north by rail.
“At the end of the day, Fairbanks has to be serviced,” he said.
State lawmakers last year formed the corporation to evaluate the proposed bullet pipeline, which would connect Fairbanks and Anchorage to the North Slope.
The firm reported early this month that such a pipeline could cost $7.5 billion and deliver natural gas at prices three times cheaper than current rates here.
Fauske said key environmental plans are due next month and could be finalized early next year — an aggressive schedule that minimizes legal risks. The corporation says its plan could mean gas deliveries in Fairbanks and Anchorage by 2019.
Joan Johnson, chairwoman of the chamber’s energy committee, said her group has followed the proposal closely.
She said committee members have asked Fauske’s team to help Fairbanks mull preparations for more natural gas.
“We’re not taking any positions” until more information about the project arrives, Johnson said. The group is sharing questions and concerns, she said.
Others attending Tuesday’s packed presentation asked Fauske, who also is CEO of the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., about the pipeline plan’s apparent demand shortfall.
The proposed line is designed to deliver twice the amount of gas that Fairbanks and Anchorage collectively need.
A lack of demand for the remainder would threaten to upend the project’s economics, but Fauske said early interest from potential customers, gauged in part by a confidential “interest meeting,” appears strong.
The proposed 2-foot diameter pipeline between the North Slope and Anchorage would pass roughly 34 miles west of Fairbanks, with a 1-foot diameter extension pipeline running east into town.
Fauske said that would deliver more than enough gas to meet Fairbanks’ needs for years.
Contact staff writer Christopher Eshleman at 459-7582.