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In their first feedback on Alaska LNG's preliminary construction plans, federal and state agencies raised dozens of questions and issues they want to make sure are covered as the project sponsors progress with design and environmental analysis.

The agencies on Dec. 11 asked the project sponsors for more information about where they plan to get construction gravel, how they plan to lay a pipeline across Cook Inlet and what kind of wear and tear state roads and bridges would endure as tons of materials move across Alaska during construction.

The requests for more information were expected as the sponsors are in the early stages of their design, route selection and construction planning for the LNG export project.

The Department of Energy received 27 comments by the Nov. 17 deadline on Alaska LNG’s application to export North Slope natural gas to customers worldwide. Of the comments, only one raised relevant objections and more than 20 were supportive.

The response was significantly less than what the department has received on multiple applications for LNG export projects in the Lower 48 states in recent years.

The Sierra Club protested the Alaska LNG application, just as it has Lower 48 gas export projects. “The proposed export project will cause extensive environmental harm … inducing harmful natural gas production and likely increasing global greenhouse gas emissions,” the environmental organization said in its filing with the Energy Department.

There is no deadline for the department to issue a decision, though Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz in an Oct. 30 letter to Alaska Sen. Mark Begich said “the department intends to act as expeditiously as possible.”

Asian LNG consumers said the market has taken its first steps away from costly oil-linked pricing and other contract terms they have chafed under in recent years, and they anticipate further, more extensive reforms in the coming years.

Liquefied natural gas producers acknowledged the marketplace is indeed evolving but that a fundamental truth underpins the industry: New LNG export projects are extraordinarily expensive and need the support of high enough prices to justify undertaking the sizable construction investments.

These two views emerged from the LNG Producer-Consumer Conference 2014 on Nov. 6 in Tokyo, sponsored by the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre.

That friction exists between buyers and sellers is nothing unique to the LNG marketplace. Such tension is as old as commerce.


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

Many Alaskans hope that a side benefit of the proposed multibillion-dollar LNG project would be to spark a new golden age for Alaska’s historic mining industry.

Nothing is that simple for an industry beset by such challenges as numbing costs, remote sites, extreme climate and environmental landmines.

But siphoning a small stream of gas from the 800-mile pipeline feeding the Alaska LNG project could help mines improve their financial margins, shaving power costs in a place where energy can be extraordinarily expensive.


Permitting

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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