Alaska groups come together in favor of major gas line project

Published: Jun. 7, 2018 at 11:48 AM AKDT
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Multiple groups announced Thursday that they'd back the Alaska LNG project - a still-developing partnership between the state and three Chinese energy financiers to bring liquefied natural gas, LNG, to the market on a big scale.

Some details surrounding this partnership and what the gas line would really look like remains up in the air, prompting some Alaskans to call it

- much like those before it - that never came to fruition, after original partners ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and BP all pulled out.

Despite this, Thursday policy makers, business partners, and labor groups threw their support behind the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation’s big project.

The AGDC, along with the State of Alaska, Sinopec, Bank of China, and China Investment Corp., all signed off on the deal, signifying that there's interest to get the gas, transport the gas, sell the gas, and, in the end, buy the gas.

Keith Meyer, president of AGDC, kicked off a statement released Thursday morning, claiming, “Alaska LNG is a transformative project that will provide opportunities for all Alaskans.”

“Alaskans will benefit from Alaska LNG through direct jobs, access to stable low-cost, clean energy, and revenue to the state," Meyer said.

And he wasn't alone. Groups joined in Thursday, like AEDC, the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, which called the project a potential "boon" to Alaska's economy.

Bill Popp, president and CEO of AEDC, said in the same release that the program will diversify Alaska's economy, and create "more well-paying jobs and more revenue for our state."

However, exactly how many jobs, and who they'd go to, is not yet known. As is much of the project. Part of the reason for that, officials have claimed in the past, is the details are still being hammered out.

While what form it eventually takes is up in the air, the most important hurdle for the project to clear first is finalization of the development agreements.

The state under Gov. Walker, supports the deal, and on the recent trade mission to China,

"About half the world's coal is consumed [in China]," said Meyer during the trip. "Seventy percent of their fuel for power generation is coals. They're very serious about shifting that to natural gas."

Meyer, who as the head of AGDC, wants the project to succeed, said he had high hopes for its likelihood to materialize. "I put a very high probability on this project, in the 90's," Meyer said.

And now, he's not alone. In the release Thursday, not only AEDC, these Alaskan groups were listed as supporters:

Alaska AFL-CIO, Alaska Laborers, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, Calista Corporation, Construction Industry Progress Fund, Kenai Peninsula Builders Association, Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, National Electrical Contractors Association – Alaska, and the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce.

Vince Beltrami, president of AFL-CIO, said the group was "fully committed" to the project, boasting "Alaskan contractors and workers are the best in the world at building in the Arctic."

While the deal is substantially more concrete than past proposals for North Slope gas production, and the support from Alaska and China is strong, a lot remains unknown about how and when it will take shape.

Specifically, for such an immensely expensive project, not much has specifically been said of who will pay what.

Between AGDC, Alaska, and the three Chinese corporations, the divvying must happen sooner than later, as you can't even really begin to build a multi-billion dollar pipeline without money.