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The Alaska LNG project in recent weeks assembled a 130-person team to lead the effort, settled its staff into offices in three cities and entered into deep negotiations with a multitude of companies that will do much of the muscular design and permitting work over the next 18 months.

Those were key takeaways from a presentation that Steve Butt, head of the Alaska LNG team, delivered to a joint meeting of two Alaska legislative committees Sept. 29 in Anchorage.

Butt also discussed recent progress in securing government approvals for the project, public outreach within Alaska planned for the coming months, discussions with state regulators who control whether gas will be allowed to leave the North Slope, and "some pretty exciting stuff" from the summer field season.

Asian buyers discussed what they want before committing to purchase liquefied natural gas. Asian investors discussed what they need before writing checks for LNG export projects.

And most everyone talked about the uncertainty that buyers and sellers, investors and developers face in today’s global LNG market.

More certainty would help both LNG project developers and their customers, but the market is just not settling down that quickly after recent years of strong demand growth, rising prices and new supply potential, said several speakers at LNG forums in September in Anchorage, Alaska, and Calgary, Alberta.

“How quickly things have changed,” Bob Gibb, associate director of Navigant Consulting’s energy practice, said at the 10th annual Alaska Oil & Gas Congress Sept. 16 in Anchorage.

The multibillion-dollar natural gas project proposed for Alaska looks similar to the oil pipeline built almost 40 years ago: Extract a hydrocarbon from the North Slope and send it through an 800-mile pipeline to a year-round port, then pour it into ships to take the product to market.

But comparing the two commodities is like comparing baseball and slow-pitch softball. Oil and LNG are in many ways related, but their markets are separated by essential differences in how they’re played.

Oil is a global commodity trading rapidly, frequently and at enormous volumes among a vast array of producers, consumers, shippers and traders that have shaped the business for more than 150 years ago. Liquefied natural gas is still largely a regional industry, just 50 years old.

Why is oil a global commodity, while LNG is not?

Guide to Alaska gas projects
and glossary of gas terms

blue gas flame

Hundreds of millions of state dollars have been allocated to a variety of projects that could move North Slope natural gas to market. These include an ambitious North Slope producer-led effort that could pipe massive amounts of gas to an LNG export plant, a small-volume state-sponsored pipeline project and an even smaller-scale proposal to truck LNG to Fairbanks, Interior Alaska’s largest community.

White Papers

Construction of the multibillion-dollar Alaska LNG project would tap a bounty of public resources – crossing rivers, disturbing soils and vegetation at least temporarily, creating emissions that would alter air quality, encountering threatened and endangered species.

The project’s sponsors cannot use the public’s water, land and other resources without permission, and a public process finding that such uses would be acceptable, findings that likely would come with strings attached.

The sponsors know the task ahead and have been gathering the environmental data regulators would want to see. We provide a brief guide to the federal agencies handling the major authorizations Alaska LNG would need.


Any project as large and complex as a multibillion-dollar natural gas project from Alaska's North Slope will require numerous federal, state and local permits. Agencies have been working with developers on National Environmental Policy Act and permitting efforts for an Alaska gas line project.

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