The Alaska liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project would not have an impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if constructed, according to the latest analysis from the Department of Energy (DOE).

DOE in late June published its draft supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Alaska LNG project (DOE/EIS-0512-S1). Researchers found that with mitigations already outlined in the project design, Alaska LNG could receive natural gas from fields in the state’s North Slope region for export to Asia without contributing to climate change. 

A study included in the EIS found that estimated GHG emissions during the 30-year lifespan of the facility could be slightly reduced compared to a scenario where it isn’t built at all. The change was attributed to modeling of additional U.S. LNG from the terminal reducing coal use in electricity generation in Asian countries. Finding that foreign demand for LNG could be readily met from other sources, researchers concluded the “no action” scenario where the project wouldn’t be built provided no environmental benefit.

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“Life cycle GHG emissions associated with LNG from the lower 48 are estimated to be slightly higher than for LNG from the North Slope based on several factors, including increased shipping distance,” researchers wrote in the EIS.

Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC), the state-owned developers of the project, touted the EIS as a demonstration of the terminal’s environmental advantages. Alaska LNG has spent more than a decade in development. AGDC’s Frank Richards, president, said the new EIS “confirms” the project can deliver “environmental benefits” and desperately needed energy during a time of global supply crunches.

“As the world turns away from Russian energy, LNG investors, developers and customers are all searching for reliable, low-emissions energy sources,” Richards said. “Alaska LNG, the only permitted LNG project on the West Coast, is poised to safely deliver to allies across the Pacific and enable other U.S. LNG projects to strengthen service to European nations in need.”

AGDC also highlighted the report’s conclusions about the terminal mostly using gas from oil production, known as associated gas. About 75% of North Slope gas is associated, compared to about 40% gas sent to Gulf Coast terminals, according to AGDC. In the report, researchers determined 41.1 Tcf of natural gas is readily available on the North Slope, which AGDC said exceeded the volume required by Alaska LNG for in-state and export use.

The supplemental EIS provided additional analysis using the project’s last statement delivered in 2020 as a comparison point. Alaska LNG’s developers had been waiting on the new study since 2021, when President Biden issued executive orders that required further review for previously authorized projects and leases. Alaska LNG has also had the greenlight from FERC to export 20 mmty since early 2020.

The estimated $39 billion project is still unsanctioned. The state’s Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) took over as sponsor in 2016 after affiliates of BP plc, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil dropped out.

AGDC’s Tim Fitzpatrick, spokesperson, said the group is currently working on placing the project under completely private ownership. If that transition is accomplished, he said a final investment decision could follow with early construction expected in 2024. That could place a startup of full operations sometime in 2030.

In February 2021 AGDC announced plans with an unnamed private firm for the $5.9 billion natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Fairbanks and said it could start flowing gas through the 500 miles of pipe by 2025, if confirmed.