Alaska to promote highway route for gas pipeline

Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles on Friday said a gas pipeline to take Prudhoe Bay gas reserves to Lower 48 markets should parallel the existing oil pipeline to Fairbanks, and then follow the Alaska Highway south. Knowles said that pipeline route would be faster and cheaper to build than one from the North Slope across the Beaufort Sea to the Mackenzie River Delta.


Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles on Friday said a gas pipeline to take Prudhoe Bay gas reserves to Lower 48 markets should parallel the existing oil pipeline to Fairbanks, and then follow the Alaska Highway south.

Knowles said that pipeline route would be faster and cheaper to build than one from the North Slope across the Beaufort Sea to the Mackenzie River Delta.

He admitted the latter route, which would require a 400-mile pipeline beneath the Beaufort Sea, would be shorter but said it has "formidable technical, environmental, and logistical challenges that may never be satisfactorily addressed."

Bob King, a Knowles spokesman, said not enough information has been gathered regarding whether a subsea pipeline as long as the one proposed could be built, given the problems of polar ice pack shifts and other difficulties related to the Arctic surroundings.

Earlier this year, Knowles vowed to spend the rest of his term working to bring North Slope gas to market (OGJ, Oct. 9, 2000, p. 62). The pipeline would not only give Alaska communities and US Lower 48 markets access to more gas, but could encourage the development of more liquefied natural gas or gas-to-liquids projects and technology, Knowles said.

He said the state would begin collecting data for permitting and right-of-way reviews. Knowles also intends to develop plan to provide job opportunities for Alaska residents.

To speed the construction process, Knowles plans to ask the Alaska legislature in January for $4 million to finance efforts to facilitate the line. He also plans to file a bill to amend the 1998 Stranded Gas Development Act to include a gas pipeline or a gas-to-liquids project.

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