Alaska Republican House Speaker Rep. Mike Chenault of Nikiski on Tuesday introduced legislation aimed at consolidating and advancing efforts to develop an in-state gas pipeline to commercialize North Slope reserves and get much-needed gas to the state’s residents. The project also would support exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The legislation, which was developed with state Rep. Mike Hawker (R-Anchorage) would advance plans by the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) for an in-state line (see Daily GPI, Aug. 2, 2011). The legislative package combines several existing bills with recommendations by AGDC and additional tools to bring Alaskans closer to a pipeline project.

Chenault said AGDC has done “tremendous work developing a solid, aggressive project plan for an in-state gas pipeline” and said he expects the legislation to allow the corporation to advance this work to the point of project sanctioning, at which time state policymakers will have an opportunity to determine the state’s involvement in construction and operations.

“While the optimal project for Alaskans would be a large-diameter export pipeline, I am unwilling to wait indefinitely for the various stakeholders to align,” Chenault said. “This legislation allows AGDC to keep developing key assets and meeting critical milestones that will be invaluable whether we ultimately build an in-state line or partner in a large export project.”

The state is “closer than ever to seeing a project under way that will bring affordable Alaskan gas to Alaska’s communities,” said Hawker. “As we announced last fall, this legislation is an important part of our efforts to empower AGDC to get a project started and to be prepared to work with the major gas producers on an in-state line exporting LNG.”

According to Chenault, the omnibus legislation ensures a reasonable, efficient regulatory process; facilitates private-sector investment; aligns existing state gasline efforts to maximize resources; and provides AGDC the flexibility to respond to gas supply and demand developments.

The legislation would be introduced as a committee substitute for House Bill 9, which Chenault introduced last year. The bill currently is in the House Resources Committee. A hearing has been requested.

In his recent state of the state address, Gov. Sean Parnell said he wanted backers of in-state and Lower 48-bound gasline plans to “consolidate their efforts” and said the state and North Slope producers need to settle their differences on leases. The state is still supporting efforts under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act to develop a pipeline to serve Canada and the Lower 48 with Alaska gas (see Daily GPI, Jan. 20).

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