Thursday, March 19, 2009

Palin won't back down on AGIA license with TransCanada

Palin is being pressured heavily right now by those who want to stop the AGIA [Alaska Gas Inducement Act] from happening. Their assertions are politically motivated. She's not backing down. Go Sarah!

Palin affirms support for AGIA license with TransCanada
Fairbanks Daily Newsminer
Rena Delbridge
Published Wednesday, March 18, 2009

JUNEAU — Gov. Sarah Palin reinforced her commitment to the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act license issued to TransCanada today, and said AGIA is delivering as promised by creating competition to build a large-diameter natural gas pipeline between the North Slope and Outside markets.

Her gasline team, including instate gas coordinator Harry Noah, AGIA coordinator Dr. Mark Myers, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin, and special assistant Joe Balash, accompanied her at a lengthy press conference on Wednesday.

The conference was largely a response to a resolution filed by Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, calling on the governor to re-evaluate the state's $500 million investment under AGIA in light of changing economic and natural gas market dynamics.

Palin said Ramras' resolution is "unnecessary," and that the open process underlying AGIA protects Alaskan sovereignty in managing its resources.

She said the state is closer to a pipeline than ever before.

"There had been no progress in the decades of talks and dreams and back-room deals and everything else in terms of hoping for some kind of natural gas pipeline to be built to commercialize Alaska's rich resources, until AGIA came along," she said.

She also said the state is "open to whatever it takes" to make sure a gas line is built. That could mean changes to the state's gas tax structure or rates, pending such a request by producers looking for a sweetened deal.

Palin's team was unwavering in its commitment to stick with AGIA, and in its assessment that AGIA is working by driving competition and spurring new gas basin exploration.

Irwin spent some time articulating TransCanada's credentials as a pipeline builder, and detailing the company's progress in Alaska so far. That work included opening an Anchorage office, flying the proposed pipeline routes and beginning summer field work in 2008.

He also said there's no doubt that TransCanada's proposal and a similar large-diameter line proposed by producers BP and ConocoPhillips as Denali will eventually result in a single line.

Palin's AGIA coordinator Dr. Mark Myers said rich shale gas reserves in the Lower 48 will be more costly to develop than conventional gas, but will bridge the gap between increasing demand now and the time when Alaska's gas flows south, projected in 2018 or 2019.

"Alaska is a huge source of natural gas for the country," Myers said. "If we look at where future energy is going to come from, clearly Alaska has to be a player if we're going to become less domestically dependent on external sources of energy, particularly natural gas."

Several lawmakers, including Ramras, questioned the commercial value of Alaska's gas in a Lower 48 market expected to be saturated with shale gas.

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