Expensive state negotiator is out as gas line reshuffle continues

This illustration shows what a proposed gas treatment plant on the North Slope could look like. (Courtesy of Alaska LNG)
This illustration shows what a proposed gas treatment plant on the North Slope could look like. (Courtesy of Alaska LNG)

Yet another member of the state gas line team is officially out.

Rigdon Boykin, the South Carolina attorney who made up to $120,000 a month in his role as the lead negotiator on the Alaska LNG project, is no longer working for the state. The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), which represents the state in the pipeline project, allowed Boykin’s contract to end Nov. 30, though it could have continued for another month, said AGDC spokesman Miles Baker.

The termination came in the midst of a larger shake-up. A week earlier, Gov. Bill Walker replaced two AGDC board members, including chairman John Burns, and oversaw the ouster of the corporation’s president, Dan Fauske.

But unlike Burns and Fauske, who were holdovers from the administration of former Gov. Sean Parnell, Boykin was specifically brought in by Walker to oversee negotiations with the state’s three partners in the project, ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips. Boykin also coordinated among the various state agencies involved.

Baker said the administration decided that role was no longer necessary. Instead, the office of Attorney General Craig Richards and the Departments of Natural Resources, Revenue and Law have been participating in negotiations more directly.

“The administration doesn’t want him as the lead negotiator, and from what I can tell they don’t have a lead negotiator to replace him,” Baker said. “That’s not the model they’re using now.”

Indeed, the governor told reporters on Friday that he had taken over the role of lead negotiator, becoming more involved as the state pursued “withdrawal” agreements with its partners before a key Dec. 4 vote on whether to continue the project.  

“I somewhat inserted myself into the role that Mr. Boykin was [filling],” Walker said.  “I attended sponsor meetings, I engaged on a regular basis on personal and phone meetings with Exxon, BP and ConocoPhillips. My concern was that what we were doing wasn’t going to get this particular piece in place in time for this vote by Dec. 4.”

The governor announced Thursday [Dec. 3] that BP and ConocoPhillips — but not ExxonMobil — would sign agreements committing their gas to the project even should they decide not to continue on as full partners.

Boykin’s contract called for a salary of $120,000 a month from June through October — and $100,000 for the month of November — plus expenses. The contract was capped at $850,000.

Baker said AGDC has paid Boykin a total of $743,000 to date. That doesn’t include reimbursements for November expenses, but Baker said he anticipates the total will be under $750,000.