Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming supports free trade and freedom to export LNG, an issue critical to the future of Alaska gas pipelines. -dh
Ocean Policy: Obama's End Run Around Congress and The Constitution. We began alerting readers to the White House move to zone the oceans and further restrict freedom of citizens four years ago and have added more details since then. We applaud Representative Millett's current observations, expressed here.
When our readers click to the actual article and scroll down to the comment section they will be astounded. As knowledgeable observers, our readers will at once recognize the illiteracy of commenters and their mean spirits. One's instinct could well lead to a conclusion that the commenters are recruits from environmental activist cells and graduates of the George Soros School of Propaganda.
We have seen similar comment treatment given to other legislators who provide logical, important reaction to overreaching government activity.
We lament that news media blogs perpetuate this nasty behavior and constant ad hominem criticism by allowing commenters to remain anonymous.
If news media wanted truly thoughtful commentary, they would require proper commenter identification.
Until then, we can only offer our own appreciation to Representative Millett on behalf of our own loyal, well-studied and well-behaved readers.
ADN Op-Ed by Rep. Charisse Millett (NGP Photo).
Alaskans today have tremendous potential opportunities that can provide lasting benefits for decades to come. Plentiful energy and mineral resources, new Arctic shipping lanes, vibrant fisheries, and a bustling tourism industry are but a few of the areas that could all combine to usher in a new era of unprecedented economic and societal prosperity for the people of Alaska and beyond. Unfortunately, prospects for this bright future could potentially be delayed if not derailed as a result of President Obama's issuance of the July 2010 National Ocean Policy Executive Order and the recently-released National Ocean Policy Final Implementation Plan.
Alaska Dispatchby Scott Woodam. At the end of September, the major North Slope gas producers notified Gov. Sean Parnell (NGP Photo) of their new agreement toward an Alaska liquefied natural gas project. Depending whom one asks, the new agreement pertained to either hijacking the state-subsidized Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) and using it as a lever to pry oil tax reductions out of the Alaska Legislature, or to finally building a long-discussed liquefied natural gas transportation project leading from Alaska's North Slope to tidewater somewhere in Southcentral.
Thoughts on Alaska Oil and Gas, Op-Ed by Brian Hove. Brad Keithley’s (NGP Photo) September 19th blog entry poses the question “What is Alaska’s fiscal plan…” for which he offers a good working definition: “an outline of the government’s long term revenue and expense projections, designed to achieve balance.” The term “projections” is key, for if we truly intend to create a useful budgeting tool we will have to get better at forecasting three critical inputs: (1) State expenditures; (2) ANS crude oil prices, and; (3) ANS crude oil production. With the possible exception of Oil Industry execs, who could have predicted State spending would take the aggressive trajectory it has over the last five years? Maybe Representative Mike Hawker’s efforts to implement long-term budgeting within the State’s various cost-centers will prove beneficial. Time will tell.
Globe and Mail by Josh Wingrove. With high energy royalties and soaring land lease sales, Alberta inched closer to a balanced budget last year.The province’s fourth-quarter report for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, released Thursday, shows a total deficit of just $23-million on its $39-billion budget. It had been forecasting a $3.4-billion deficit. The changes come as welcome news to Alison Redford’s government, which has been under fire from the official opposition Wildrose Party for not managing to balance the books even as the province is awash in energy wealth. “We are all very fortunate to be in Alberta. Our economy is strong and our bottom line is healthy,” Finance Minister Doug Horner said in a statement.
Federal Gas Pipeline Coordinator article by Bill White (Photo). Before the first cargo load of liquefied natural gas could set sail from Alaska for Asia, the project's export paperwork must be in order. That paperwork would include a federal agency's finding that exporting the gas would not harm the nation's public interest. The Department of Energy already is pondering that question for Lower 48 projects as companies there push to export U.S. LNG. The paperwork also would involve a step that applies only to exporting Alaska North Slope production as LNG: The president must declare that shipping the gas out of the United States won't hurt U.S. gas supplies or the price U.S. consumers pay for energy. Other federal and state authorizations would be required, of course. ....
Today's Federal Gas Pipeline Coordinator Links:
Federal Gas Pipeline Coordinator, Larry Persily (NGP Photo-r) will address Commonwealth North today: noon, ANGDA Conference Room, 411 West 4th Avenue, Yellow Sunshine Mall, Anchorage. (More from ADN where Persily formerly served with distinction as a journalist and editor. -dh)
Alaska State Legislature:
(Comment. We hear from a reliable source that at a recent conference in San Antonio of the National Council of State Legislators a Member of our own Alaska State House of Representatives spoke against passage of a resolution supporting development of ANWR. We herewith offer any legislator an opportunity to comment and correct the record. -dh)
- Dan Fauske (NGP Photo-above) briefing, Anchorage LIO, Monday, August 15, Alaska Stand Alone Gas Pipeline Project Plan.
- Tony Palmer (NGP Photo-r) briefing, Anchorage LIO, Tuesday, August 16, AGIA gasline project, along with briefings on Cook Inlet Natural Gas Reserves.
- Larry Persily briefing, Anchorage LIO, Wednesday, August 17, status of Alaska gas pipeline project federal coordination.
- Our Commentary: To keep the 2/3 empty Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) operating, new oil reserves are needed. New oil can come from federal sources like ANWR, OCS, NPR-A -- which the Obama Administration currently opposes. New oil reserves could also come from state lands -- were the Legislature to act to improve the investment climate. If certain legislators oppose ANWR and investment climate improvement, TAPS cannot be sustained. If TAPS is not sustained, the state operating budget (almost 90% dependent on oil) and the entire state economy (over 1/3 dependent on oil) will fail. If TAPS is dismantled, removed and the right of way restored (DR&R, as required by Alaska law) and Alaska returns to a pre-pipeline population, no intrastate gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay will be required. No big hydroelectric project will be needed. Most state services will be dramatically curtailed. The Permanent Fund will be dissipated. The legislature will be managing a fiscal crisis never experienced by our citizens. Is this logic not indisputable? If it is, why don't legislators act of one mind to improve the state investment climate and demand federal support for robust oil and gas development on federal lands? -dh
Fairbanks News Miner by Matt Buxton. The Alaska Gasline Port Authority board of directors voted unanimously this week to pass a resolution calling for the removal of a ballot proposition directing the agency to pursue trucking natural gas into the Fairbanks area. The decision, made Wednesday, comes in advance of a special meeting of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly next week, where members will introduce and discuss an ordinance to remove Proposition 1 from the Oct. 4 ballot. ... During discussion, board member Merrick Peirce, along with many other members, applauded the private partnership. “What’s formed is a deal that’s better than we’ve could have ever envisioned,” he said. “This opens the door for the North Pole distribution area and that’d be great.” As the port authority abandons a plan to truck natural gas, something it has explored for about two years, it will resume its pursuit of a natural gas pipeline to connect Prudhoe Bay, Fairbanks and Valdez. The renewed focus is strengthened by a late-July analysis, from consultant Wood MacKenzie, showing a line to Valdez would be profitable and could bring the state of Alaska $65 billion over 30 years.
OCS Comment Deadline Today - Legislative Gasline Caucus Meets Today - Canada's Stockwell Day Weighs In - Fairbanks Natural Gas Op-Ed
|TODAY: Another Important Deadline; here is how to easily comment! Your OCS comment by TODAY's deadline makes the legal record more supportive of reasonable OCS exploration for Alaska and the benefit of all Americans. A reasonable OCS program will help save Alaska's economy and protect America's economic recovery and national security. Send us your comment and we will post it to make it Internet searchable! Meanwhile, here are comments from Jason Brune (NGP Photo),Bob Hoffman, Kaye Laughlin and myself. Others who submitted comments include Mary Ann Pease of Anchorage.... We have not yet seen comment from Alaska's U.S. Senators or Congressman or from any Alaska legislators. -dh (A modest reminder for why we stay motivated!)|
Former Canadian Cabinet Minister Stockwell Day provides an insightful view of current northern energy debates and puts them in context of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Berger hearings over three decades ago. His insight should also be appreciated by Alaskan and Washington energy decision makers. -dh
(Related to the story below, note that the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) will be making a presentation to the Alaska State Legislature's House and Senate "In-state Gas Caucus" on the "Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline Project Plan" at 10 a.m. this morning in Anchorage. You can watch by video conference. We commend Doug Smith for volunteering to write a detailed update on the Fairbanks Natural Gas' (FNG) challenge to supply interior Alaska consumers with natural gas. He posits that FNG's plans and those of AGDC are not mutually exclusive. We think you will appreciate Doug's review. -dh)
Fairbanks Natural Gas Update
FNG sought to remedy its supply issues by seeking an Alaska North Slope (ANS) supply. The company secured a long term supply contract with ExxonMobil in 2008. The deal with ExxonMobil provides much larger gas volumes than Cook Inlet currently provids, and a stable pricing structure that is not subject to the escalation recently seen in the Cook Inlet market. The gas supply on the North Slope requires new facilities to condition and liquefy the gas for transport.
Since concluding the deal with ExxonMobil, FNG has sought financing for new ANS facilities, including an arrangement with the Alaska Gasline Port Authority (AGPA), in which APGA offered to purchase FNG, and then use its bonding authority to obtain financing for construction of the new facilities. AGPA was stalled in pursuing the deal after the member municipalities (Fairbanks North Star Borough and City of Valdez) required AGPA to obtain voter approval of the project plan before proceeding. The vote is scheduled for October 2011. FNG and AGPA are not currently moving toward closing a deal.
Meanwhile, FNG has obtained financing through its parent companies and private investment, and created affiliate Polar LNG, LLC to own and operate the North Slope plant. Polar obtained state and federal permits for the project throughout the winter of 2011, and broke ground on the project in June this year. It is scheduled to be operational in fall 2013. The ANS facilities needed are:
3.8 mile pipeline carrying feedstock gas from the Prudhoe Bay Unit to the Polar site in Deadhorse
Gas treatment plant, with a capacity of 30 mmscfd
Gas liquefaction plant, with output of 255,000 gallons LNG per day
15 MW power plant
Truck loading facility
29 specialty LNG tanker trailers, to supplement FNG’s existing fleet of 14 tankers
The Fairbanks area electric utility, Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) is evaluating a proposal to sign on as an “anchor client” and take deliveries of around 3.4 bcfy to use in its recently constructed North Pole Expansion Plant. If GVEA elects to pursue the LNG supply, a large storage tank and vaporization facility would be constructed near GVEA’s plant.
Fairbanks is the largest city in the United States without a pipeline source natural gas supply. The plan to deliver large quantities of gas by truck is a frequent topic of debate. It is often asked why bother with the LNG trucking plan, when a pipeline is a better, seemingly more permanent solution. The answer is timing. The LNG trucking plan will bring a new source of energy to the Fairbanks area within two years. Even the AGDC plan, with significant pressure from the legislature pushing it, cannot get a pipeline source to Fairbanks before 2019.
The liquefaction plant uses conventional technology composed primarily of “off-the-shelf” components. There is no technology development and little customization required. The process used for liquefaction is nitrogen recycle process, where nitrogen is used as a refrigerant, cooling the methane to its liquefaction point of -260 degrees F. The nitrogen recycle process is very similar to hundreds of air separation plants in service around the US that provide liquid oxygen, nitrogen, argon and other cryogenic fluids. The project is designed in truck-sized modules that will be constructed off-site and set and interconnected at Deadhorse. This provides for the rapid development timeline.
A report prepared by Steve Haagenson and Jim Dodson
for the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation concluded that the net present value of the savings realized from a LNG-truck delivered supply available in two years is more than twice the value of a pipeline based supply available in 7 years. The report also found that the cost of LNG deliveries to a city gate and pipeline deliveries the same gates are nearly identical, at $11.75/mcf and $11.74/mcf respectively. The AGDC project plan provided additional verification of this, estimating the Fairbanks city gate price of its gas would be $10.45 in 2011 dollars. If this is inflated at a conservative 2% rate to 2019, the price is $12.50.
There is also concern about lost investment in LNG facilities if a pipeline source becomes available during the economic life of the LNG project. There are options for the LNG facilities that preclude lost investment. First, the LNG could continue to be produced at the North Slope, and the product delivered to communities both on and off the road system that are not served by natural gas. The same tankers that haul LNG to Fairbanks now could be redirected to other locales. Villages not on the road system could receive LNG deliveries in ISO containers by barge. The planned LNG facilities are constructed in modules, and could be dismantled and sold to other stranded gas development areas. The build-out of distribution piping and installation of gas appliances is the same regardless of the gas transmission method. This means that Interior Alaska consumers will not be saddled with duplicate infrastructure costs if a pipeline gas supply becomes available.
There is also some concern about the safety of hauling LNG over the highway. Hauling of LNG in highway tankers has taken place since the 1970’s and has a record of safe operation. A LNG consulting firm, CH.IV has compiled a list of LNG tanker accidents that have occurred since 1971, and the results and magnitude of the accident
. Very few of the incidents reported resulted in fire or product leakage. One incident resulted in a fire and explosion, but it occurred in a trailer that was not of the specialty design used by FNG. It occurred in a single walled pressure vessel with external foam insulation. It was not the double wall vacuum-jacketed type that will be used by FNG, and that are widely used in the US.
The tankers are designed with multiple safety systems. They carry double walled tanks and redundant overpressure relief devices. If LNG is spilled, it readily evaporates, leaving no residue. The auto-ignition temperature of LNG vapors is about twice that of diesel fuel. LNG vapors readily ignite, and quickly burn back to the LNG pool they originated from. Although rapid burning might sound like a serious risk, this tendency toward rapid burning is actually beneficial in the control of the vapors. It reduces the likelihood of explosive concentrations of gas occurring. LNG vapors have a narrow explosive band. The vapors are only explosive when mixed 5% to 15% with air in a confined area. So a highway tanker roller that results in an LNG spill is very unlikely to cause an explosion, even though a fire may result. The tanker design includes a rupture disk as a failsafe device to prevent overpressure that could result in explosive conditions. FNG has been hauling LNG over the Parks Highway since 1998, and has had two tanker accidents in that period. Neither resulted in fire or explosion, and the LNG in the damaged tankers was transferred to other tankers, and any spilled LNG evaporated without incident.
The project plan calls for Polar LNG to own the specialty LNG tankers, but to contract the hauling to firms experienced in traveling the Dalton Highway. At periods of peak demand, there will be an additional 35 trucks on the Dalton daily. The Alaska DOT has stated that this additional load is within the capacity of the highway.
Another topic of frequent discussion about the LNG project is FNG’s status as a regulated utility. FNG currently serves Fairbanks under a certificate from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. FNG has announced no plans to seek to rescind that status once the ANS supply becomes available. FNG’s primary business is selling natural gas – not manufacturing LNG. It manufactures LNG as a means to obtain gas to sell. If any of the Alaska natural gas development plans since Gubik in the 1950’s had been realized, Fairbanks Natural Gas would be distributing that piped gas in the Interior, and not LNG. FNG is poised to leap onto any economically viable gas supply that allows it to expand distribution.
FNG customers are not typically on “take-or-pay” contracts. They can switch to other fuel sources at any time they desire. FNG has several commercial customers on “interruptible” service, due to the supply constraints, where in periods of high demand these customers can be shut-off from gas and must switch to alternate fuels. These interruptible customers maintain dual-fuel equipment. Residential customers are not on interruptible service. Fairbanks area mechanical contractors report that conversion of residential oil fired boilers to natural gas typically runs $1500 to $2000.
The option for Fairbanks to take no action and continue to wait for a gas pipeline is the worst of all alternatives. Waiting only lets costs escalate, drives residents and business investment to less costly locales, and accelerates the downward economic spiral that Interior Alaska finds itself in. FNG and its affiliates are clearly serving the public interest by investing in Alaska to provide an alternative to fuel oil heating. The LNG plan not only provides a lower cost fuel, but cleaner burning fuels that will help Fairbanks address its air quality non-attainment problems. This project will serve Interior Alaska well in the short term, and can be part of a long term solution for a larger portion of the state.
Doug Smith, PMP is the Alaska Regional Manager for Haskell Corporation and has managed energy projects across Alaska. Since 2010 he has been consulting with Fairbanks Natural Gas and Polar LNG on the development of its project.