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Authorization Sought for Alaska LNG Export

The Alaska Gasline Port Authority (AGPA) is seeking authorization to export up to 2.5 Bcf/d (19 million metric tons per year) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) over a 25-year term to countries along the Asian-Pacific Rim with which the United States has or establishes a free trade agreement (FTA).

"Over the past several years, [AGPA] has engaged with the world markets regarding LNG from the project and has received a very positive reception from the world LNG market interested in receiving LNG from the project," AGPA said in its filing.

AGPA -- a political subdivision of the state of Alaska whose members include the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the City of Valdez -- joins a host of others that have sought FTA export permission from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy (see NGI, July 9; June 25). Such applications are routinely approved as export to FTA countries is presumed to be "consistent with the public interest" under the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

Proposed are liquefaction facilities and a terminal in Port Valdez, AK. "AGPA's project initially contemplated a gas treatment facility on the North Slope and an 800-mile gas pipeline running from the North Slop adjacent to the existing Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline (TAPS) to tidewater at Port Valdez," AGPA said.

However, under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA), it is expected that AGIA licensee TransCanada Alaska Co. LLC and Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. and partners will now construct facilities upstream of the liquefaction and export facility (see NGI, June 15, 2009), AGPA said. "AGPA's project is thus focused on the terminal, which is substantially similar to that previously proposed by the Yukon Pacific Corp."

It was thought that a TransCanada pipeline project in Alaska would deliver North Slope gas into Canada for subsequent delivery to the Lower 48. However, since the early days of AGIA and the shale gas revolution, the interest of North Slope producers and the state has shifted to an LNG export alternative (see NGI, May 7).

AGPA said it is in discussions with the state to lease land at Anderson Bay five miles west of the terminus of TAPS that was previously leased by Yukon Pacific for its project. Yukon Pacific's project had been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1995 but not constructed. Alternatively, AGPA said it could locate its terminal next to the existing TAPS Valdez Marine Oil Terminal. A study commissioned by AGPA said this was a viable option, the authority said. Another possibility is the development of a floating LNG (FLNG) facility in the waters of Port Valdez. FLNG is in its infancy, but such projects are in development for offshore Australia and in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

In April a study commissioned by AGPA said Port Valdez in Prince William Sound has a number of advantages over the Cook Inlet as the site for an LNG) liquefaction and export facility (see NGI, April 30). According to the study, "the Port of Valdez has already proven that it is a world-class oil export facility with the infrastructure in place to export large volumes of North Slope gas in the form of LNG from Alaska...Valdez is the port of preference for the export of Alaska LNG using large LNG tankers since it is an ice-free, deepwater port, closest to existing infrastructure."

Authorization to export to non-FTA countries was not sought by AGPA. It is more difficult to obtain; DOE is awaiting completion of an analysis of the impact of exports on domestic gas markets before granting any more such authorizations. Cheniere Energy Inc. units Sabine Pass LNG and Sabine Pass Liquefaction currently are the only holders of such authorization.

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