Department of Energy Approves LNG Export License Continuation

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The U.S. Department of Energy has approved the continuation of ConocoPhillips-Marathon Liquefied Natural Gas Export License shipments to overseas markets for the next two years.

The approval allows the company to ship gas that was authorized but not yet delivered under a license granted in 2008 – but not to increase the quantities allowed at the time of the original agreement.

There were concerns about the export license in light of the uncertain gas supplies available for Anchorage and Southcentral utilities. But the Department found that there are enough contract commitments and safeguards in place to assure that local needs will be met.

Natalie Lowman, of Conoco-Phillips, says those requirements have always been a part of their plan.  She says the export of gas is necessary to stay in business to provide local supplies.

Anchorage Republican Mike Hawker has been active in the legislative search for gas for the region.  He says without the federal order, the plant could have been shut down.  Admitting that it sounds odd to ship gas when a shortage is looming, Hawker says that exporting makes it possible to fill the high demand periods.

Democrat Chris Tuck, of Anchorage, also has been working on local energy needs for the Anchorage area.  He says seeing the license extended can provide some comfort for residents until a new storage facility becomes available – now planned for the 2012-13 season.  That will allow for a reservoir of 8 billion cubic feet of gas.

The storage facility resulted from legislation sponsored by Representative Hawker that came of out this year’s session.  The Non-Firm Supply Contracts and the Gas Storage facilities are now before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.  The Storage application has been scheduled for hearings early next month.

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