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State Lawmakers Slated to Weigh Alaska LNG TransCanada Buyout

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker plans to hold a special session of the state legislature next month related to the Alaska LNG project. The main, and perhaps only, topic is expected to be a potential state buyout of TransCanada Corp.'s stake.

A deal would have to occur by Dec. 15 due to provisions of agreements between the state and the pipeline company. Lawmakers have received notice of the special session, which is expected to end by Thanksgiving.

Last July, Walker told NGI his staff was working out the details of a potential buyout of TransCanada (see Daily GPIJuly 10). Since taking office, the governor has argued for the state to have a larger role in the long-sought project to commercialize Alaska North Slope natural gas. "I think it's important that Alaska, as a sovereign, has a seat at the table..." he said in July. "It's no reflection on TransCanada in any way at all. It's just a matter that I've long felt that Alaska needs a seat at that table."

TransCanada officials have said they would work with the state on a transition, should a buyout occur.

Last week Walker was in Japan drumming up support for the project among prospective customers. The Alaska delegation met with Osaka Gas and Kansai Electric Power Co., currently a customer of Alaska Cook Inlet LNG shipped from the state's terminal at Nikiski. There also were meetings with, among others, Itochu Corp., Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., Tokyo Electric Power Co., Tokyo Gas, Marubeni Corp., Korea Gas Corp. and Toho Gas.

"Korea and Japan are the two largest consumers of LNG in the world,” Walker said last week. “Alaska has more than enough natural gas to supply the market and, in turn, satisfy in-state demand so Alaskans can pay less for energy.”

Alaska has 35 Tcf of proven gas reserves on the North Slope, and the potential for 200 Tcf more both onshore and offshore of the northern coast. Alaska also has a 44-year history of shipping LNG from Nikiski in the Cook Inlet to Asia (see Daily GPIApril 14, 2014).

The Alaska LNG project has its roots in the administration of former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin and the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, which envisioned a pipeline that would move gas to Canada for transit to markets in the Lower 48. The U.S. shale revolution and consequent increase in gas production scotched that plan, so the state and producers ExxonMobil Corp., BP plc and ConocoPhillips, along with the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., are pursuing the Alaska LNG project with TransCanada (see Daily GPI, Feb. 11).

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