Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reaction to Point Thomson Settlement

Maybe it's a case of what was said doesn't equal what people heard.  Fairbanks News Miner columnist Dermot Cole heard the part about no commitments (LINK).  The Anchorage Daily News heard (correctly) that Alaska has a deal to develop Point Thomson Gas (LINK) . The Wall Street Journal heard that "Alaska, Gas Firms Clear Way For Pipeline" And many media outletS proclaimed that Alaska and Exxon have agreed to build an LNG plant "Exxon seals deal with Alaska to develop $26b LNG plant".

If you want to know that facts I suggest you look at the documents on the Alaska DNR website (LINK).

What you will find is that one of three alternative or combinations of alternatives will play out over time:

Alternative A - Major Gas Sale : Gas to a pipeline and liquids to TAPS.  The clock is ticking to get this alternative sanctioned by 2016.  The window closes in 2019 when the producers must choose Alternative B or Alternative C.

Alternative B: Increase cycling and produce more liquids for TAPS.  Producers must do this or start losing leases.

Alternative C: Gas to Prudhoe Bay, Condensate to TAPS.   The gas flow to TAPS "Significantly increases TAPS throughput" This alternative also provides gas for in-state use.

None of these options involve a guarantee from the producers. The stated goal of the agreement is "A primary goal of this settlement is to incentivize commercialization of North Slope gas/Major Gas Sale (MGS)"

Looking at these options you can see it's a bit over the top to claim a LNG plant is in the works anytime soon. Possible - maybe, probable no. On the other hand the State and the Producers have covered all the bases, and they have done so in away that allows development of Point Thomson in a way that can boost Prudhoe Bay production in the short term and develop a gas export solution later (i.e. Alternative C first followed by Alternative A).  Alternative B looks like the worst case scenario unless you count Alternative "D" Point Thomson abandoned.

Those are the facts, but what about perceptions?  The markets are focused on the potential of Alaskan LNG entering the global mix.  Alaska's competitors will need to pencil that volume into the mix.  Alaska's potential customers can now step up and start negotiating deals.

Any of these outcomes equal revenue and jobs - Good things for Alaska.

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