By Bill Walker
I am pleased to be a founding member of the newly formed Alaska Gasline & LNG, LLC (AGLNG) alongside Alaska Laborers’ Local 341, longtime Fairbanks businessman Bernie Karl, and former Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) President Keith Meyer. With AGDC recently completing critical permitting and a lowered cost estimate, it declared the Alaska gas line project competitive, confirmed the market as the Asian market, and approved a plan to transfer the project to a private entity to be selected by the end of 2020 with transition to that entity by June 2021.
We will be seeking other interested parties and individuals, from across Alaska and beyond, to participate in the ownership of the company. We also plan to reimburse AGDC its expenditures from inception, at the project’s financial close.
Bringing our vast experience from LNG project development and market engagement, industry, and labor, we believe in the commercial viability of the project, know first-hand the receptivity to the Alaska LNG project we received from the global arena based on our presentations at the highest levels to Asian companies and governments, realize the economic impact to all Alaskans, and are ready to move forward. With construction in Alaska, gas for Alaskans and decades of reliable service ahead, there is no other project that will do more for the state’s deficit, Alaskan businesses, job creation and low cost clean energy for Alaskan homes and businesses than this project.
Over the past two years, AGDC has focused successfully on reducing the project costs, completing the permitting process and has determined the project is competitive. Now that AGDC has taken action to transition the project to private control, we stand ready to move it across the finish line.
There is no time in Alaska’s history when our need for this mega project has been greater. It’s been over half a century since Alaska has had a project of significance. In the federal government’s recent award of the final LNG export license, it referenced the 19,000 construction jobs the project would create. Moreover, the one thing every growing economy in the world has in common is low cost energy. Conversely, the one thing every struggling economy in the world has in common is high cost energy. A large volume gasline would create long-term value-added jobs rather than shipping out of state raw materials along with Alaskan jobs. We could fuel our state ferries with LNG like the B.C. ferries and the list goes on.
Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be easy but Alaska has significant advantages over the competing LNG projects. We have the gas that is perhaps the largest stranded reservoir of conventional gas without additional wells drilled (not from fracking) in North America. We have close proximity to the markets; 70 critical federal permits and the Pre-FEED (Front End Engineering and Design) is complete. Alaska has the longest tenure of LNG contracts with the Asian markets in LNG history. At one time Alaska had nearly 100% of the Asian LNG market but today we have 0%. That must change.
We are greatly encouraged by the outreach we have received from Alaskans and others on the formation of AGLNG. It is time for Alaska to get back in the LNG market and put our people and resources to work. We know this project, the market, and Alaska’s opportunity very well. With aggressive, experienced leadership, it is an opportunity within our grasp and we are ready, willing and able to lead it to completion.
Former Governor Bill Walker is a municipal and oil and gas attorney who resides in Anchorage with his wife, Donna.