AGDC official optimistic about pipeline plans

Monday, April 9, 2018 - 07:57
  • Alaska Gasline Development Corporation vice president of communications Rosetta Alcantra talks about the proposed natural gas pipeline during a Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce lunch forum April 4, 2018 at the Eagle River Ale House in Eagle River, Alaska. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation is hopeful financing for a long-dreamed-of Alaska megaproject could be in place by the end of the year.

“Definitely by December we want to have definitive agreements,” AGDC vice president for communications Rosetta Alcantra told the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce at its April 4 lunch forum at the Eagle River Ale House.

Alcantra said Bank of China officials were in Anchorage this spring to continue talks on the proposed gasline, which would transport natural gas from the North Slope to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) production facility in Nikiski for shipment to Asia.

Alcantra said the proposed project would supply 20 million tonnes of LNG per year to Asia, with 75 percent of the gas going to China and the rest destined for Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

“We have four different countries interested in our project,” she said.

Alcantra admitted the project -- which has been in the works in some form or another for four decades -- must still clear the high bar of financing. Estimates for the total cost of the project range as high as $60 billion, a price tag that has so far stymied attempts to start digging what would be an 807-mile pipeline.

“Show me the money,” Alcantra quipped when an audience member asked about the biggest uncertainty facing the project.

However, she argued there are a number of reasons why the project makes sense, among them Alaska’s stable geopolitical situation, the state’s proximity to Asia and close existing trade relationships with Asian countries.

“There’s a lot of good reasons why Alaska is promising, especially for these countries,” she said.

Alcantra recalled a summertime visit to Alaska by Xi Jinping in which the Chinese president told AGDC president Keith Meyer his country has “100 years of demand” for natural gas.

“We have 100 years of supply,” Meyer replied.

If financing and regulatory hurdles can be cleared (the pipeline still needs approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), Alcantra said the state-owned gasline corporation can begin work on the project by 2020, with peak construction around 2023-24. At its peak, she said the project will employ as many as 12,000 workers.

“We need operators, we need maintenance, we need engineers,” she said.

Although the project is still far from a done deal, Alcantra said the benefits to Alaskans range from good construction jobs to a ready supply of in-state energy.

“Our priority is gas for Alaskans,” she said, noting that the project has identified five offtakes from the line that would supply gas to customers in Alaska.

The project would also help offset the nation’s trade imbalance with Asia to the tune of about $10 billion per year.

“It’s not really just an Alaskan project, it is America’s project,” she said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]

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