October 12, 2004 --- Vol. 10, No. 88October 2004

Old Alaska gasline permits can be revised; feds could build line

Congress included more than just incentives for the North Slope producers to build a gas pipeline in legislation passed Oct. 11. It specified that changes can be made in existing Alaska gas pipeline certificates and permits. And move over Alaska — if nobody files to build a line within 18 months, the feds can study doing it themselves.

The Alaska natural gas transportation system authorized under the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Act of 1976 and the decision issued by President Carter in 1977 are “clarified” in the new legislation.

Its short title — “Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act” — says nothing in it affects “any decision, certificate, permit, right-of-way, lease, or other authorization issued under ... the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Act of 1976 ... or ... any Presidential finding or waiver issued in accordance with that Act.”

Furthermore, terms or conditions of certificates, permits, rights of way, leases or other authorizations issued under the 1976 act may be added to, amended or rescinded “to meet current project requirements (including the physical design, facilities, and tariff specifications), if the addition, amendment, or rescission” provided such change “would not compel any change in the basic nature and general route of the Alaska natural gas transportation system as designated and described in section 2 of the President’s decision; or … would not otherwise prevent or impair in any significant respect the expeditious construction and initial operation of the Alaska natural gas transportation system.”

Updated environmental data, reports, permits and impact analyses will be required, “as the (secretary of Energy) determines are necessary to develop detailed terms, conditions, and compliance plans required by section 5 of the President’s decision.”

And, if there are no applications for a certificate or amended certificate authorizing construction of an Alaska natural gas transportation system within 18 months of the date of enactment of this legislation, the secretary of Energy “shall conduct a study of alternative approaches to the construction and operation of such an Alaska natural gas transportation project.” The study will consider establishing a federal government corporation to construct an Alaska natural gas transportation pipeline.

Editor’s note: See complete story in Oct. 17 issue of Petroleum News.

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