The Bureau of Land Management and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources said May 2 that they have received applications to renew the trans-Alaska pipeline system right of way authorizations and will begin reviewing the applications for completeness, a review that could take up to 90 days.
The original 30-year right of way authorizations for the trans-Alaska pipeline expire in 2004, the federal grant on Jan. 23, 2004, and the state lease on May 3, 2004. The renewal applications are for 30 years.
BLM and DNR are the lead agencies in the Joint Pipeline Office, a consortium of seven state and six federal agencies that oversee the trans-Alaska pipeline. JPO said the renewal processes will include a review of compliance with federal and state laws and regulations and the terms of the state lease and federal grant by their holders.
The federal government will prepare an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act. The JPO said scoping and public meetings will be conducted later this year.
The trans-Alaska pipeline system is owned by BP Pipelines (Alaska) Inc., Phillips Transportation Alaska, ExxonMobil Pipeline Co., Williams Alaska Pipeline Co. LLC, Amerada Hess Pipeline Corp. and Unocal Pipeline Co. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. operates the pipeline system as agent for the owners.
General information, public participation announcements and updates will be available on the federal-state Taps renewal web site: http://www.tapsrenewal.jpo.doi.gov.
Alyeska's Steve Jones, director of the right of way renewal project, told the Alaska Support industry Alliance in February that from the time the EIS is started until it's completed is probably a 24 to 26-27 month process. Jones said he hoped applications for renewal would be filed by the end of the first quarter, which, he said, would put an estimate for renewal into the third or fourth quarter of 2003.
Since that time, the state has solved one of the renewal issues: state statute only allowed a 10-year renewal. The Legislature has passed, and the governor has signed into law, Senate Bill 76, which changes the renewal period from 10 years to "additional periods of up to 30 years."
The JPO said renewal will address "diverse environmental, social and economic issues" in addition to the determination of compliance with the grant and lease, "other statutory and regulatory compliance" and the useful life of the system.
Jones said that Alyeska deals with the JPO daily on issues of compliance, and for renewal it's probably an issue of systems: "Do we have the systems in place to ensure compliance? Can we ensure for the next 30 years that if in fact the right of way renewal is extended for that period that we will be in compliance? Do we have the procedures in place to identify problems when they arise and correct them?"
In addition, Jones said, the owners companies will have to supply evidence that they are in business and a physical life and economic life evaluation of the pipeline will be done.