The Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s search for a new CEO appears to be winding down.
AGDC board member Hugh Short, who has led the board’s hunt for a new president and CEO, said in an interview that the board has winnowed its list of candidates down to one finalist and a secondary candidate.
From a broad perspective, the depressed nature of worldwide oil and natural gas markets has been a concern during the process, but Short said the near-term uncertainty regarding the status of the $45 billion-plus Alaska LNG Project has not challenged the search.
Rather, the State of Alaska needs someone with the experience and expertise to market the project and maintain its prominence worldwide in the minds of potential LNG buyers, he said.
Former AGDC President and CEO Dan Fauske abruptly resigned in late November at the request of Gov. Bill Walker. At the time the state had just approved the buyout of TransCanada Corp., which previously held the state’s share of the 800-mile pipeline and the North Slope treatment plant.
After the buyout, the state now owns a full 25 percent share of the entire project.
Walker said then he wanted more pipeline experience in AGDC’s top role as a result. Fauske, who had led AGDC since its inception as a subsidiary of the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. in 2009, has significant experience in the finance industry.
Fritz Krusen, previously a vice president, has been AGDC’s interim president since mid-December.
The Alaska LNG Project has been AGDC’s primary focus in recent years, but the corporation is still sitting on the design for the smaller, in-state Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline project, or ASAP, the project for which AGDC was originally formed.
Specifically to the Alaska LNG Project, it appears the pipeline size is staying the same.
Project spokeswoman Kim Fox of ExxonMobil wrote in an email that the project team has recommended it stick with the current 42-inch design after a five-month study process in which the 42-inch and 48-inch pipe sizes were evaluated.
Walker pushed for the larger pipe study — which cost $20 million to evaluate — contending added capacity in the pipeline would encourage more natural gas exploration on the North Slope and could give companies searching for gas along the pipeline corridor — Doyon Ltd. is exploring near Nenana — a better opportunity to get their gas to market.
The 42-inch pipeline would be dominated by North Slope gas owned by BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil, as well as the state’s gas, for about the first two-thirds of the project’s 25-year design life, before depletion from the Prudhoe Bay and Point Thompson fields is expected to start gas throughput decline at about year 18.