April 24, 2003 --- Vol. 9, No. 42April 2003

Aurora Gas plans numerous exploration projects

Aurora Gas has eight exploration projects and one production project planned for the west side of Cook Inlet this summer.

The company told the state that five gas exploration projects will be from existing pads: Long Lake No. 1, Mobil Moquawkie No. 1, Simpco Moquawkie No. 1, West Moquawkie No. 1 and Simpco Moquawkie No. 2.

These five projects appear to be re-entries of wells drilled in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Office of Project Management and Permitting in the Department of Natural Resources said no permits for these five wells are expected to trigger Alaska Coastal Management Program reviews.

Three other projects, however, likely will trigger an ACMP consistency review: Nicolai Creek Unit No. 7, Lone Creek No. 3 and Kaloa No. 2. These three appear to be new wells.

Aurora is also proposing a production facility including installation of a four-inch pipeline near the Shirleyville runway.

Governor wants to expand gas authority

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski has sent a bill to the Legislature that would amend the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority Act to expand the scope of projects that the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority may consider. The authority was established by referendum in the November 2002 general election to build a gas pipeline to Valdez and market liquefied natural gas.

In an April 17 transmittal letter the governor said that under current law, the authority is required to develop a project plan within a year "for a gas transmission pipeline running from the North Slope to tidewater at a point on Prince William Sound."

The governor said other projects may be "economically viable to bring Alaska gas to market" and the state's "approach to considering these potential projects should be consistent." The authority is "an appropriate vehicle to consider and plan for all economically viable projects" to take gas from the North Slope by routes that parallel the trans-Alaska oil pipeline or the Alaska Highway.

A fiscal note from the Department of Revenue says the general fund budget request for fiscal year 2004 of $150,000 would cover salary for an executive director, travel for the director and the board of directors and contractual expenses for the authority to complete its work assignment in six months.

Scott Heyworth, sponsor of the ballot proposal for the all-Alaska route, said in an April 24 statement that the governor's amendments are "very good news for Alaska as we would own a big percentage of both the highway route and the all-Alaska route with this amendment." With state ownership, he said, Alaska will benefit from natural gas development and development of an in-state petrochemical industry will be ensured.

Wally Hickel's concept of the owner state is now becoming a reality, Heyworth said.

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