FERC chairman says federal law not needed for Alaska gas line

Maureen Lorenzetti
OGJ Online

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 29 -- Pat Wood III, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman, Thursday said federal legislation isn't needed to accelerate construction of a pipeline to deliver Alaskan gas to the Lower 48 states.

He told a meeting of the Energy Bar Association that an existing interagency task force would be able to speed the permitting process, when and if an application is filed at FERC.

Wood acknowledged that a decline in natural gas prices may have curbed enthusiasm for the project, but said, "The country needs this without question. We can't get to [supplying] a 32 tcf/year market without arctic gas and liquefied natural gas."

The FERC chairman said the gas pipeline is a key element of national energy strategy, but the companies building the line should determine the route, not governments.

"I would like to say the pipeline would be built within 5 years, but realistic people say it could take 7. But regardless of where process stands now, the sooner the pipeline gets built, the better."

His remarks came a day after he met with Canadian pipeline regulators.

Wood said he hopes to involve the Canadians in the US permitting as a way to shorten the overall process.

Regarding the ebbing California power problems, Wood said he would work to ensure that state does not experience another crisis.

He also said FERC was monitoring the problems of Enron Corp. to ensure that customers taking physical delivery of gas won't be affected.

Contact Maureen Lorenzetti at maureenl@ogjonline.com

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