Alaskan Northwest Pipeline Application Still Viable

Calgary-based Alaskan Northwest Natural Gas Transportation Co. plans to keep up to-date its 20-year-old application for a pipeline right-of-way on Alaskan lands in its efforts to secure a front row seat if a natural gas pipeline is ever approved. The original application was filed in 1981 and remains active and in good standing, calling for a parallel route to the Alaska Highway.

The company filed an application last week with the Alaska State Pipeline Coordinator in Anchorage to continue its application for a 235-mile-long pipeline right-of-way. It already holds a federal grant of right-of-way, covering more than 400 miles in the state.

"Alaskan Northwest has maintained its permits and rights-of-way over the years in order to capture the timing advantage and gain momentum once the price of gas makes an Alaska natural gas pipeline viable," said project manager John Ellwood. He said the company has kept the application in force so that when the time was right, it could secure additional permits or approvals necessary to build the pipeline.

If and when the proposal becomes reality remains questionable, however, the potential natural gas reserves on the North Slope are considerable. Experts estimate the North Slope to contain 100 Tcf, and Alaska could supply up to 4 Bcf/d to the Lower 48 with a pipeline. The projected route would run parallel to the existing Alcan Highway, and would not cross any national conservation system units.

If the permit is given approval, Alaskan Northwest would then secure agreements with producers to supply the pipeline, something several producers already are considering, as witnessed by an announcement last year by BP, Phillips Alaska and Exxon Mobil Corp. (see NGI, Sept. 18, 2000). The announcement marked the first time that the three North Slope producers agreed to study the prospect of constructing an Alaskan pipeline. Until now, each has been reviewing the project separately.

In the first meeting of the newly-formed Alaska Highway Natural Gas Policy Council earlier this month, Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, who also is advocating pipeline construction, charged his newly appointed 28-member panel of community, business and labor leaders with the task of looking into public policy questions surrounding the development and transportation of natural gas in the North Slope (see NGI, March 12).

Alaskan Northwest is owned by subsidiaries of Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd. and TransCanada PipeLines Ltd.

Carolyn Davis

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