September 03, 2003 --- Vol. 9, No. 86September 2003

Senate Resources sets hearing Sept. 10 on gasline issues; administration says no way to get $3 million for state gas authority during legislative interim

The Senate Resources Committee will hear next week from the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority, along with other major players in the state’s efforts to move North Slope gas to market.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Ogan, R-Palmer, will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, with the meeting teleconferenced to legislative offices in Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai and Wasilla.

In addition to hearing from Harold Heinze, chief executive officer of the state gas authority, the committee has invited oil company representatives to present updates on efforts to commercialize Alaska’s natural gas reserves. On the invite list are BP Exploration (Alaska), ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, EnCana and Anadarko.

The committee also has invited Yukon Pacific Corp., Ken Thompson of Pacific Star Energy, and Mark Meyers, director of the Division of Oil and Gas at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

The board of directors of the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority last month asked for a legislative hearing to update lawmakers on their efforts and to ask for support for up to $3 million in additional state funding to determine the feasibility of a state-owned pipeline to take gas from the North Slope to Valdez for liquefaction and shipment to West Coast U.S. markets.

Heinze told the board last month timing is very tight for Alaska to put together a project and secure a place in the market before competing suppliers can sign deals with developers of proposed West Coast LNG terminals.

Despite the authority’s stated sense of urgency, the Murkowski administration says there is no way to appropriate $3 million between legislative sessions. “The general fund money is not available because the process does not allow it to be available,” said Steve Porter, deputy commissioner at the Department of Revenue and the administration’s liaison to the gas authority.

And there is no need for the administration to decide whether it would support the request until it sees a detailed plan for how the voter-initiative-created authority wants to spend the money, Porter said.

Heinze said he will present a spending plan at the Sept. 10 Senate committee hearing.

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