Governor Parnell last night set some expectations that he says will measure progress toward getting access to North Slope gas.
In his annual State of the State address to the legislature, he said within the previous twenty four hours he had talked to all the C-E-O’s from the major oil companies who visited with him earlier this month in Anchorage. He says he pointed out to them that, while company and state employees have been working on details, there has been no agreement yet on key issues that would lead to gas development. And that’s when he produced what he called a “roadmap” for them.
First, these companies need to agree to resolve the Point Thomson litigation. If no settlement in the state’s interest can be reached with all parties, the state will fight for Alaska’s interest at the Alaska Supreme Court hearing on February 8th in Anchorage.
He also expects the companies to align in a framework directed at building a large diameter line through Alaska to tidewater. He also wants to see all the projects consolidated later this year, and – finally — he is looking for financial estimates and work schedules for an Liquefied Natural Gas project.
If these milestones are surpassed, the 2013 legislature can take up gas tax legislation designed to move the project forward. The path ahead is better defined, and benchmarks for progress are in place. And while a lot more work remains, Alaska is closer to the day when our gas can move from the ground to Alaskans and to markets beyond.
Parnell also took time during the speech to promote full consideration of the budget he made public last month, saying it holds the line on government spending while adding nearly $4-Billion dollars to the state’s savings accounts. He also repeated his call for lowering oil taxes in an attempt to increase the production of North Slope oil.
For many years, the TransAlaska Pipeline has provided a pathway to prosperity for Alaskans. But where more than 2-million barrels of oil per day once flowed through the pipeline, less than 600—thousand barrels now inch through. And unless we act to reverse this decline, we will pay a stiff price in lost jobs, lost state revenues and lost opportunities. This is not the future our children deserve and this is not a future that we will accept.
The topic of oil taxes promises to be one of the most controversial issues during this year’s session.