Parnell Says Gas Pipeline Has Reached New Milestone

Governor Sean Parnell gave an update in Fairbanks Friday on what he called a significant milestone in plans for building a gas pipeline in Alaska. In his state of the state address a few weeks ago, the governor had given the companies, BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon and Transcanada a deadline of February 15th to come forward with details of their proposed project.  A letter from the companies, delivered on Friday, stated they had made a project concept selection. The governor called that an important phase in building a line.

“They said they would move forward on the concept of a 42-inch line, five off takes for Alaskans, gas treatment plant on the North Slope and
the project details are actually in their attachment to that letter,” Parnell said. “The  significance of it is, it’s the first time in Alaska’s history that
companies that can build and operate a pipeline are together on a project concept selection like this.”

Parnell said the line would run 800 miles, mostly underground. Although the treatment plant is proposed for the North Slope, there is not yet a
decision about where on the coast the line would end. The cost is estimated to be between $45 and $65 billion dollars. The governor said he wants more investment from the companies before a discussion about additional
investment or tax guarantees from the state.

“The state has already committed up to $500 million to this gasline project. When I see the companies step forward with hundreds of millions of dollars, which will be the next phase, the pre-feed phase, that would be the appropriate time to talk about next steps when it comes
to fiscals.”

Larry Persily is the federal coordinator for permitting for the gasline project. He said there is good news in Friday’s announcement but for Alaskans, expectations over the past 10 years have outpaced reality. Persily said the project is not moving as fast as Alaskans had hoped or been led to believe by past politicians who had promised that it would be easy and fast.

“When you’re trying to put together the largest and most  expensive natural gas project in the world, there’s a tremendous amount of risk in construction cost over runs, market appetite for it, so it is a exceedingly laborious, painful, slow process that we’re going through,” Persily said.

The letter the governor received from the companies doesn’t line out a site for the liquefaction plant. Last October the companies said they were considering 22 possible locations in Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and elsewhere in Southcentral.

Friday’s letter said the plant would require more land than previously proposed at up to 600 acres rather than 500 acres. The liquefaction plant’s capacity will be 15 to 18 million metric tons per year averaging about 2 to 2.4 billion cubic feet of gas per day. The update did not have any new information about engineering, design or environmental studies.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin.

She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director.

In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN.

Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.

Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley.

She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests.

ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori