The deadline for applications from companies wanting to build Alaska's proposed natural gas pipeline has been extended two months from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 due to increased interest in the project, Gov. Sarah Palin's office said last week.

"It's going to provide an opportunity for other interested parties to put together responsive bids," Nan Thompson, a member of Palin's energy team, told the Associated Press. "The application asks for a lot of detail and we wanted to give more applicants more time to do a better job."

Last month Palin took the next step in implementing her Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) by issuing a request for applications from companies for an exclusive license to build the $30 billion-plus pipeline to bring Alaska North Slope natural gas to market (see NGI, July 9).

After the new Nov. 30 deadline commissioners of the state's Departments of Natural Resources and Revenue will review the proposals to determine which meet ones the requirements of the AGIA. The applications will be released to the public for a 60-day review and comment period.

The state will select the application that promises the most economic benefit to Alaska, and the greatest likelihood of resulting in a completed natural gas pipeline, the governor's office said. The commissioners will forward the recommended licensee to the legislature, which will then have 60 days to pass a bill approving the commissioners' decision. Assuming everything goes as planned, approval of the winning proposal would fall to the legislature in its 2008 session.

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