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Alaska pays $5.75 billion to join Exxon LNG project

01.16.2014  | 

Alaska plans to jump-start a $45 billion natural gas export project by pitching in more than 10% of the cost and joining ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada as an equity partner.

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By BRADLEY OLSON & REBECCA PENTY

JUNEAU (Bloomberg) -- Alaska plans to jump-start a $45 billion natural gas export project by pitching in more than 10% of the cost and joining ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada as an equity partner.

The agreement between the state and the four companies outlines a framework in which Alaska would take as much as a 25% stake in a proposed gas processing plant, an 1,287 km pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope and a liquefaction facility in the Kenai Peninsula.

Governor Sean Parnell has asked the Alaska legislature to approve the deal and give state agencies the ability to negotiate shipping and leasing arrangements, according to a statement released by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

“This is the first time we’ve had all of the parties aligned on a path forward,” Joe Balash, the department’s commissioner, said in a phone interview before the announcement. The deal gives the project a “good shot” at proceeding, he said.

The joint venture renews a prolonged effort to harvest Alaska’s vast reserves of gas, which have remained largely untapped since the 1968 discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil field. The North Slope holds more than 35 Tcf of discovered gas, almost four times the United Kingdom’s reserves.

Gas shipments may begin as early as 2021, giving Alaska a foothold in an increasingly competitive race to supply Asian countries with liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from North America. ConocoPhillips has a small LNG export plant in Nikiski on the Kenai peninsula, the only such facility in the United States.

Under the terms of the agreement, Alaska will assume a 20 to 25% stake in the entire project. TransCanada has agreed to pay the state’s costs for its share in the $22 billion gas processing facility and pipeline in exchange for a lower tariff for shipping the gas. That would represent a $5.5 billion investment, Balash said.

The state would pay as much as $5.75 billion for its share of the $23 billion liquefaction facility, which would be capable of shipping 18 MMmtpy of LNG. The producers would pay the remaining portion of the $45 billion total project cost, Balash said.

Petroliam Nasional, is proposing to spend as much as $15 billion on a terminal and pipeline to export gas from a site near Prince Rupert, British Columbia, along Canada’s Pacific Coast.

Countries including Canada, the United States and Mozambique are competing for a share of global gas demand set to increase almost 50% by 2035, according to the International Energy Agency.



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