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Gov. Palin: 'Endless Scenarios' For Alaska Gasline

As expected, the changing of the guard in the Alaska governor's mansion has brought with it a rethinking of plans for a natural gas pipeline to carry production from the state's gas-rich North Slope to the Lower 48. The state has thrown open the doors to new proposals for monetizing its gas resource.

The state's newly sworn-in Republican governor, Sarah Palin, Wednesday wrapped up two days of meetings with potential gas pipeline project sponsors. Negotiations under former governor Frank Murkowski had come down to an unratified draft fiscal contract between the state and BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips when the clock ran out on the Murkowski administration (see Daily GPI, Nov. 9).

Those three industry players are at the table with the Palin administration. Joining them is the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, the backer of a combined pipeline and natural gas liquefaction project that had been essentially shut out of talks by Murkowski (see Daily GPI, Sept. 5). Palin's administration also has been talking with the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority, Enbridge, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., Shell Oil, BG Group, Chevron, SEMCO and TransCanada.

Palin described this week's meetings as positive and productive.

"Sitting down one-on-one with potential project sponsors proved an excellent opportunity to not only gauge the number of parties interested in getting our natural gas to market, but also how they propose to do it," said Palin.

Palin's gas team is made up of Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell, Department of Natural Resources Acting Commissioner Marty Rutherford, Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin and Kurt Gibson of the Division of Oil and Gas. Meetings began Tuesday morning and by Wednesday afternoon had included 12 different entities, all with ideas on how to move forward on getting Alaska's gas to market.

"The scenarios are endless," said Palin. "That's why these meetings are so important. One of the themes that surfaced several times over the last two days was the appreciation from potential project sponsors that their views on a gas pipeline project were actually being considered."

Proposals will be reviewed over the next few weeks, and then Palin will introduce a bill seeking a law of general application on the first day of the 2007 legislative session. In it she will outline several key requirements for a natural gas pipeline project, Palin's office said.

"Our bill will provide for all proposals to be considered in a more open, competitive manner," said Palin. "That's the process Alaskans have asked for and one I believe will deliver the very best gas pipeline proposal for Alaska."

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