TransCanada CEO gives the Alaska Gas Pipeline the edge over the Mackenzie Gas Project in the Northwest Territories (Full story by Lauren Krugel, THE CANADIAN PRESS)"
Five or six years ago, we were much more optimistic about Mackenzie than about Alaska," Hal Kvisle told reporters after his company's annual general meeting Friday.
"All the cards were stacked in Mackenzie's favour at that point in time."
The Alaska pipeline will traverse 2,760 kilometres of rugged terrain, require mind-boggling amounts of steel and is not expected to start carrying natural gas until around 2017.
Mackenzie, on the other hand, is less than half the length of Alaska - 1,220 kilometres - and would carry about a fifth of the daily volume Alaska would.
It was originally to have been in service this year.
"Things did not proceed over that period the way they should have, and here we are in 2009 and we're not yet through the greatest regulatory process that mankind has ever mounted," Kvisle said with a wry laugh.
"It's almost beyond belief the quagmire that we continue to work through."
One factor working against Mackenzie at this time is the fact that the natural gas fields have not yet been developed.
"The fields need to be completely drilled up. All the production facilities need to be constructed. Ominously, all the regulatory permits need to be received to do that kind of work," Kvisle said.
By contrast, the Alaska producers, BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips have been drilling in the Prudhoe Bay area of Alaska for several years.
"The field has reached a state of maturity where it's time to go ahead with the gas pipeline and the predictions by people like ExxonMobil have always been 2016-2018 would be the right time from a reservoir engineering point of view to bring that gas on production," Kvisle told shareholders.