March 23, 2001 --- Vol. 7, No. 33March 2001

Gas group expects to award contracts soon

Curtis Thayer, spokesman for the North American Natural Gas Pipeline Group, told PNA March 22 that the 10 requests for proposals issued earlier this year for gas pipeline-related feasibility studies will probably be awarded the week of March 26. Twenty-nine bids are being evaluated.

Thayer said that all the RFPs are geared toward developing an economic project: “A lot of the work that will be done will also be needed to take the project to the next stage, which involves filing for permits with the major U.S. and Canadian regulatory agencies.”

The conceptual engineering and design RFPs contain the following specific work scopes:

1. Gas pipeline from North Slope to Alberta -This package deals with the northern and southern routing alternatives - specifically the northern offshore Beaufort Sea route from Prudhoe Bay to the Mackenzie Delta to northern Alberta and, the southern Alaska Highway Route from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks and then along the Alaska Highway to northern Alberta.

2. Gas pipeline from Alberta to Lower 48 market - This RFP calls for looking at building a pipeline from Alberta to the Lower 48.

3. Gas treatment plant (GTP) - Slated for the North Slope, this plant will be the largest of its kind in the world, Thayer said. It will remove C02 and other impurities from the gas before it enters the pipeline.

4. Natural gas liquids (NGL) plant - Thayer said that this RFP asks for an evaluation of “where along the gas pipeline route would be best to place an NGL plant, which would remove heavier hydrocarbons, such as ethanol.

The environmental studies were broken into two separate RFPs - one dealing with the Canadian portions of the pipeline routes and one with the U.S. routes.

The four land services RFPs deal with land ownership issues and everything that entails, Thayer said.

The first addresses land issues for the Alaska portion of the proposed pipeline routes. The second deals with the Canadian portions of the routes from Alaska to northern Alberta. The third deals with the route from northern Alberta to the U.S. border, and fourth with the Lower 48 route.

Several of the 29 proposals received are from major international engineering firms that have formed joint ventures with Alaska firms, Thayer said.

“We are encouraged that a number of the bidders - some large world-class engineering companies - have partnered with Alaskan companies which have local expertise.

Bill would prohibit consideration of “over-the-top” gas pipeline route

Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, introduced a bill today, March 23, to prohibit consideration of the northern route for a natural gas pipeline.

Co-sponsored by every other state senator, a press release issued by Torgerson said SB164 “would prohibit leases under the Right-of-Way Leasing Act on the state of Alaska’s submerged lands in the Beaufort Sea.”

The release said that the bill was “drafted to conform with Alaska’s Constitution, which says that state resources should be developed in a way that makes them available for the maximum use consistent with the public interest and for the maximum benefit of Alaskans.”

Curtis Thayer, spokesman for the North American Natural Gas Pipeline Group, told PNA March 23, “We’re very disappointed. At this stage of the game we have to consider all the alternatives. …We need to do so for ourselves, internally, and to meet federal, FERC, requirements. … We’re with in a week of releasing millions of dollars worth of contracts (see news item this page) expected to exceed $75 million.”

Thayer said until his group studies the bill it will not be able to assess the impact of the bill in those contracts.

“Do they still allow us to study the northern route? Are we still allowed access to permitting? Does the bill forbid state agencies from even helping us? Those are some of the questions that must be answered,” Thayer said.

“I wish they would have waited. This bill doesn’t have to pass this session. They could have given us time to study the alternatives.”

Senate wants commissioner to look at investing in gas line

Laura Achee from the office of Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, told PNA that SB 158 is to be filed today. The bill directs the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue to prepare a report to the legislature evaluating the state's participation in owning or financing a North Slope natural gas pipeline project.

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