By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Sept. 1 -- Alaska Gov. Frank H. Murkowski said he would call a special legislative session, starting Sept. 19, if state lawmakers agree that a contract outlining terms of a proposed natural gas pipeline can proceed to ratification.
"That call is contingent on an affirmative indication that it would be productive from legislative leaders who are polling their members," Murkowski said. He also proposed that legislators be involved in negotiating specific points of the contract.
The state's legislature twice has failed to pass bills to pave the way for a pipeline to carry gas from the North Slope to the Lower 48. The contract calls for partial state ownership of the pipeline and is contingent upon oil tax changes (OGJ, July 24, 2006, Newsletter).
Eight Alaska House Republican leaders met Aug. 29 with North Slope producer representatives to try to find common ground. The producers are BP PLC, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil Corp.
Murkowski said producers and lawmakers have a list of issues to be negotiated, including the terms of fiscal certainty, dispute resolution-mediation, work commitments, project labor agreements, and a reserves tax.
"We have delivered a contract to the legislature that meets the requirements of the Stranded Gas Development Act. It is now up to the legislature to take action," Murkowski said. "We are working with it to make the changes it needs to feel comfortable in ratifying the contract."
In May, Murkowski made public a draft gas pipeline agreement between the state and North Slope producers. Earlier this month, Murkowski lost the Republican primary election to Sarah Palin.