Friday, March 30, 2012

New Focus On LNG "We Have Aligned"

Nothing to bank on but it sounds like the gas line project is morphing into an All Alaska line that will feed a tidewater LNG plant.  The first element of the plan is the Point Thomson settlement (LINK), and quote:

(Reuters) - The U.S. state of Alaska has reached a settlement with Exxon Mobil Corp and its partners to develop a huge, long-fallow oil and gas field, possibly paving the way for a $26 billion pipeline and an export plant for liquefied natural gas.
The settlement, which resolves a long-running lease dispute over the Point Thomson field about 60 miles (95 km) east of Prudhoe Bay, could allow for exports of liquefied natural gas via tanker to Asia and may boost Alaskan oil production after decades of decline.
In exchange for continued lease control, operator Exxon and partners BP and ConocoPhillips have agreed to build a pipeline from the field to deliver 70,000 barrels per day of liquids into the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.
The settlement also calls for the companies to produce 10,000 barrels per day of natural-gas condensates by the winter of 2015-16, state officials said.
That's a lot of condensate, I'm not sure where that flow will go but I'm looking forward to the project awards and jobs that will flow from this settlement.

The second element of this good news story is the possibility of an LNG export terminal (CEOs Letter to Gov. Sean Parnell). Quote from the letter:

Serious discussions between our  companies have taken place over  the past several months,
along wi th the Alaska Pipeline Project (APP) parties who are supporting the AGIA License.  We have aligned on a structured, stewardable and transparent approach wi th the aim to
commercialize Nor th Slope natural gas resources within an AGIA framework.  As a result of  the rapidly evolving global market, large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports f rom southcentral Alaska will be assessed as an alternative to gas line exports through Alberta.  In addition to broadening market access, a south-central Alaska LNG approach could more closely align wi th in-state energy demand and needs.  We are now working together on the gas commercialization project concept selection, which would include an associated timeline and an assessment of  major  project  components including in-state pipeline routes and capacities, global LNG trends, and LNG tidewater  site locations, among others. 
This isn't the slam dunk project sanction announcement, but it's close to the Kumbaya moment many of us have looked for.  The language is parsed, but you would like to think that the CEOs of the North Slope producers are at least 80% certain of a project before they signed up to "assess" an Alaskan LNG project.

The current trend in lower 48 shale gas prices lead me to believe that Alaskan LNG export is the last hope of developing Alaska's natural gas.  Full development of Point Thomson makes little sense without a viable outlet for the gas.

One certain take away is that all three producers are on Team AGIA now with the "We have aligned" statement.  Nice job Governor, don't stop now.

Additional LINKS

(Washington Post/Bloomberg Link)
(Gov. Parnell Website Press Release - Pt. Thomson Resolved, Aligment on Gasline)
(Alaska DNR Point Thomson website)

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