Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) said yesterday the Senate Energyand Natural Resources Committee plans to begin tackling the issueof transporting Alaska’s North Slope natural gas to the Lower 48market when Congress reconvenes in September.

He said the time is ripe for Congress to begin discussing anAlaska pipeline system based on the ever-increasing demand fornatural gas by electric power generators, which he believes willkeep gas prices high enough to justify the economics ofconstruction.

At a hearing, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 14, the Senatepanel will begin reviewing the economical, environmental andstrategic and international aspects of some of the pendingproposals for moving gas from Alaska to the Lower 48 market. “It’stime for Congress to examine the proposals and determine thefederal role to expedite developing the projects,” Murkowski noted.Some of the pending proposals include:

* Arctic Resources Co.’s Northern Gas Pipeline Project, whichwould run eastward from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska and come ashore inthe Mackenzie Delta area in northern Canada, then follow theMackenzie River south through the Northwest Territories tointerconnect with pipelines in Alberta with access to U.S. markets;

* A proposal to build the northern half of the Alaska NaturalGas Transportation System (ANGTS), with the gas transported fromPrudhoe Bay south along the Alaska Highway, across the Yukon,northern British Columbia and Alberta. The southern portion ofANGST, from Alberta to the U.S. border, was completed long ago;

* An LNG project, where gas would be piped to Valdez, chilledinto a liquid and shipped to Asian markets; and

* A gas-to-liquids project, where gas would be refined into aliquid and shipped through the oil pipeline in Alaska.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) already is on record favoring thepipeline project that would follow the “Alaska Highway,” saying thecompeting Prudhoe Bay-to-Mackenzie Delta project would denyAlaskans access to the state’s huge gas reserves.

Murkowski would not say which project he favors, but it appearsthat he, too, is leaning towards the “Alaska Highway” proposal.Specifically, he said he would oppose any pipe construction throughthe Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or offshore in the Beaufort Seathat would deny Alaska towns access to the 34.4 Tcf of proven gasreserves in the North Slope.

The hearing “will give all sides a chance to clarify wherethings stand and allow Congress a chance to look at the policyimplications of Alaska gas finally reaching markets,” Murkowskisaid in a prepared statement. “Given the changes in the nationaland international supply and pricing situation since Congress lastconsidered the Alaska gas issue in 1977-78, it is time to get thisproject underway.”

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