July 20, 2001 --- Vol. 7, No. 85July 2001

Gas producers suggest gasline enabling legislation

Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski said July 20 that he has received a series of suggestions from North Slope gas producers on how the federal government can facilitate construction of an Alaska natural gas pipeline.

Murkowski said that commercial owners of the natural gas offered a draft July 19 of federal enabling legislation to expedite permitting of an Alaska gasline project.

"This was a solid step that shows the companies’ interest in making this project a reality. It shows their commitment to building an Alaska gasline," said Murkowski.

Murkowski said he had urged BP, Exxon and Phillips last year to make concrete suggestions on what, if anything, the federal government could do to help facilitate construction of a gasline to move Alaska’s 32 trillion cubic feet of proven North Slope natural gas to market. July 19 the companies proposed a host of measures to expedite permitting for any gasline project.

"There are a number of proposals offered, and we’re evaluating them, so it’s too early to divulge specifics and evaluate how they relate to current law.

"What’s important is that the companies have given us specific suggestions to facilitate construction of a gasline. It shows they are serious about trying to find a way to get the gas to market," said Murkowski, who said he hopes to be able to include advance an Alaska gas project in energy legislation that is already moving in the House and will likely be considered in the Senate this fall.

Eight oil and gas lease sales proposed for Alaska in MMS 5-year plan

The Minerals Management Service announced July 20 the Draft Proposed 5-Year Program for natural gas and oil activities on the federal Outer Continental Shelf. The Draft Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program 2002-2007 will be published in the July 23 Federal Register.

Twenty sales are proposed, including eight in Alaska: three in the Beaufort Sea (2003, 2005 and 2007); one in Norton Basin (2003); two in Cook Inlet-Shelikof Strait (2004, 2006); and two in Chukchi Sea-Hope Basin (2004, 2007).

The MMS said exploration and discoveries on the Alaska OCS can provide continuing job opportunities for Alaska workers, stabilize production in the state and help offset the nation's increasing reliance on imported oil.

MMS said the proposal will provide companies the opportunity to continue the search for oil, but also offers areas believed to contain natural gas.

"Gas production in the Southcentral region of Alaska is in decline," said John Goll, MMS Alaska regional director. "This proposal could open the door to seeking future gas resources for Anchorage, the Matanuska Valley, and the Kenai Peninsula."

"The areas offshore Northwestern Alaska clearly hold promise for gas reserves, although most likely in the longer term. Offshore gas could be a source of energy for neighboring communities." Goll added.

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