California Company Pitches LNG Project At Port MacKenzie

A California energy company is exploring establishing a liquified natural gas plant at Port MacKenzie to supply gas to interior Alaska and the railbelt. WesPac representatives outlined the plan to the Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly last week.

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WesPac, with offices in Fresno and Oakland California, and in Reno, Nevada, plans to spend about $600 million on LNG infrastructure at Port MacKenzie, according to company Vice President Brad Barnds [BARNS], who made the pitch to the Borough Assembly in late August.

“Our objectives in Alaska are to build, own and operate new, scalable midstream LNG facilities in Cook Inlet, to establish and LNG alternative for Fairbanks and the Interior markets. To create new markets for natural gas in rural and coastal Alaska by displacing high cost diesel. We believe that we also by putting in a new facility at Port MacKenzie we’ll be in a position to offer peaking gas to the greater Railbelt communities, by putting gas into the pipeline system to meet peak day requirements. ”

Barnds says the company is working on an agreement with at least one Cook Inlet producer to supply the gas. He highlighted the projects’ 11 megawatt power plant and the gas pipelines that would accompany the LNG processing facility.

He said WesPac became interested in Cook Inlet gas some years ago, when it seemed like the Inlet’s natural gas supplies were running low. Since a resurgence of natural gas development in the Inlet, WesPac wants to jump on board the rush to get cheap fuel to Alaska’s Interior villages.

“The integration would be the proven reserves plus the energy facility plus the rail and marine infrastructure necessary to move LNG by railcar, or truck or vessel to rural Alaska. The site that we’re intending is one hundred acres at Port MacKenzie. The facility itself would be on par with the current facility contemplated for the North Slope to Fairbanks on the order of two hundred fifty thousand gallons of LNG per day. We’d connect to the existing Enstar pipeline, which is approximately fifteen miles away.”

Barnds said WesPac is working with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and with the Department of Natural Resources on the proposed project, although he said it would be privately financed. He said the project could provide 350 jobs during the construction phase, and about 30 permanent ones.

WesPac is in the process of information gathering and will be ready to make a firm proposal in about three months.

Karston Rodvik, spokesman for AIDEA, says WesPac representatives have met with the state agency although there is no firm plan on the table yet.

“Well, we are certainly aware of the WesPac idea, but I am not aware yet of any formal business proposal that has come to us. If one does come through the door, it will of course go through the same kind of rigorous due diligence process that any proposed or potential project goes through when we look at it. ”

AIDEA is a billion dollar public corporation of the state, which is self – funded and does not depend on legislative appropriations. It returns an annual dividend to the state which goes into the state’s General Fund.

WesPac specializes in gas storage, pipelines and fuel depots. The company operates facilities on the East Coast, and is working with TOTE Ocean Marine on designing a LNG bunkering operation in the US, using container vessels to deliver LNG from Florida to Puerto Rico.

Barnds told the Borough Assembly on August 26 that

“We have actually obtained five expressions of interest form various producers in the Cook Inlet who have made commitments to us or indications to us that they have a lot of natural gas that can be produced to meet our supply requirements. We are actually in active detailed discussions with one particular producer to actually acquire those reserves. ”

He did not name which of the Cook Inlet producers are interested in WedPac’s Port MacKenzie project.

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone. Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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