TransCanada and Exxon Mobil are deferring filing the next step in paperwork to get a natural gas pipeline built to the Lower 48, and they’re assigning responsibility for that to Governor Sean Parnell.
The companies are supposed to file draft Resource Reports this month on the potential Alaska Pipeline Project or APP, but told federal authorities Tuesday that they’re holding off on that for now.
TransCanada Vice President of Alaska Development Tony Palmer says that’s because in October, the Governor recommended looking at a liquefied natural gas project instead.
“The resource reports are complete and ready to be filed. But as you will recall earlier this fall Governor Parnell encouraged the North Slope producers to work with the APP to evaluate an LNG option,” Palmer said.
Palmer says TransCanada and Exxon are discussing that with the North Slope producers, and so while an LNG option is on the table, they’ll wait to release the resource reports. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC expected the reports this month, and already planned the next step, which is scoping meetings scheduled to start Jan. 18 in Anchorage.
The Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects, Larry Persily says the scoping process could still go forward if TransCanada and Exxon submit the reports in early January.
“Look it’s an unfortunate delay certainly from a federal agency perspective, everyone was looking forward to reviewing those resource reports. It may only be temporary. If they turn in the reports in a few weeks everyone may start reviewing the data that will be used in the EIS. There’s certainly more time, not much, but still time to stay on schedule for a complete application to the FERC in October 2012,” Persily said.
October of next year is when the companies are supposed to file their finished application and TransCanada executive Tony Palmer says that’s still the plan. He says the company is by no means giving up on a Lower 48 gas line through Canada, or the “Alberta route” as Palmer calls it.
“I would say that Alberta remains a viable option for us, just as the LNG does. The parties that will make that ultimate decision as to where the gas will be delivered are customers. That has always been the case. In order to succeed w pipeline project you need regulatory approvals, but you must also have commercial underpinnings, which means contracts with customers,” Palmer said.
Palmer says interest in LNG has risen because of an increase in natural gas supplies in the Lower 48, and growing overseas markets. Federal Coordinator Larry Persily says the companies will go where the buyers and money are. He says if that ultimately takes a different form, so be it.
“If the decision is made that rather than build a gas pipeline to the Lower 48, if the discussions with North Slope producers result in a pipeline to serve and LNG export terminal in Nikiski or somewhere else in Alaska, if that produces jobs, gas, investment, public revenues for Alaska, I’m going to be just as happy as 700,000 other Alaskans to see a project go ahead,” Persily said.
FERC is still planning the gas pipelinee scoping meetings in January. Parties involved say if TransCanada and Exxon do not file the resource reports in the coming weeks, it will change the timeline of the next year.