Alaska LNG pushes off with FERC filing
Friday, Apr 21, 2020
The Alaska LNG project has filed an application with the US’ Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The Natural Gas Act Section 3 filing was lodged by the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. (AGDC) for the 20 million tpy liquefaction project, which includes a pipeline and a plant, in Nikiski. The move comes amid a broader political push from the project sponsors, seeking support from both domestic parties and potential consumers abroad, predominantly in Asia.

“Today’s FERC filing marks a major milestone in moving the Alaska LNG project forward,” said AGDC’s president, Keith Meyer. “This is the culmination of over 1 million man hours invested in project engineering and design”, he continued, with “approximately 50,000 pages of material submitted to FERC”.

FERC is expected to publish a schedule for the National Environment Protect Act (NEPA) review soon, outlining the time needed to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS). This should take around 12 months, AGDC predicted, with a final EIS taking another six months. AGDC also filed applications with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The project involves a gas treatment plant at Prudhoe Bay, an 800-mile (1,287-km) pipeline – with five links to supply gas to meet local demand – and the liquefaction plant in Nikiski. It seeks to tap 35 tcf (991 bcm) of stranded gas on Alaska’s North Slope. Construction and operations will provide employment to local Alaskans, while exports will provide additional revenues. AGDC is wholly owned by the state of Alaska.

Meet and greet
The FERC filings follow meetings with US Vice President Mike Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping. AGDC’s president held talks with Pence, and Alaska Governor Bill Walker, on April 15.

AGDC’s Meyer said the project would “help fortify the nation’s ability to export LNG to the Asia-Pacific region”. The US vice president was on his way to South Korea and Japan. While much of the headlines around the trip focused on how to respond to North Korea, the two countries are also major LNG importers.

Alaskan media reported in January this year that AGDC had opened a trade office in Tokyo to pursue marketing opportunities. The Alaskan governor visited Japan in September 2016 to pursue LNG trade options, among other things.

Xi visited Alaska on April 7, meeting the governor and AGDC’s president. The Chinese president was returning from meeting US President Donald Trump. The potential for supplies from the Alaska LNG project were a “significant point of discussion”, the AGDC statement on the visit said.
The Chinese president was reported as saying China had “100 years of demand” for natural gas, with Meyer describing Alaska as having “100 years supply”. Further meetings are planned between the two sides.

The Kenai option
ConocoPhillips set out plans to sell off its Kenai LNG plant, in Alaska, in November 2016. A report this week from Platts said initial bids were due to be submitted by mid-March and that the US independent was in talks with potential buyers. The 1.5 million tpy plant was built in the 1960s and ceased regular functions in 2012, although some subsequent spot sales have been carried out.

Platts did not name potential buyers but a report from KTVA 11 in January raised the possibility that AGDC might be interested in buying the liquefaction facility.

It was unclear how AGDC would pay for the Kenai plant – or the broader Alaska LNG project. The company has said it would raise cash through the use of project equity and debt. There is suspicion locally that the government would divert funds from the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) but AGDC has said it is not considering such a move.

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