About 120 to leave gas line team as state takes charge of project

Prudhoe Bay at night. Gov. Bill Walker’s team hopes state leadership will mean North Slope gas can someday make it to market. (Photo by J Weston/Flickr Creative Commons)
Prudhoe Bay at night. Gov. Bill Walker’s team hopes state leadership will mean North Slope gas can someday make it to market. (Photo by J Weston/Flickr Creative Commons)

At a meeting of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation board on Nov. 11, corporation vice-President Frank Richards said staff are winding up the project’s first phase, which includes early design and engineering work — called preliminary front-end engineering and design, or pre-FEED.  The project is not immediately moving into the next phase, and Richards said the corporation is disbanding the existing project team and approximately 120 people will move on.

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“The project management team is demobilizing, so they will be sent back to their parent companies,” Richards said.

Those companies include ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips, who had been partnering with the state. The companies indicated earlier this year they would not move forward with the gas line as originally planned, and Governor Bill Walker decided the state would take over the project. The state is marketing the project to potential gas buyers overseas but hasn’t yet determined whether it will be able to move into the next phase.

Richards said the companies did good work to get the project this far. Now the state will bring on contractors to navigate the next step: getting the necessary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

“They’ve achieved the work – an excellent quality of work and so now we will take that work and advance it into the FERC process,” said Richards.

Also at the board meeting, corporation president Keith Meyer said negotiations with the North Slope producers over the transition are taking longer than he had hoped. The state aimed to reach an agreement with the companies in October. But Meyer added he felt negotiations are “going well” and that he doesn’t “detect anything that’s going to stop the process.”

Natalie Lowman, a spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips, said in an email the companies aim to complete the handover by the end of the year.