AK LNG field season to include offshore work

More geophysical and technical work will take place in Nikiski this summer as preparation for the Alaska LNG Project.

The partners on the liquefied natural gas pipeline project — ConocoPhillips, BP, ExxonMobil and the state through the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation — are moving forward with field work for the 2016 season. The field work will be on a smaller scale than it was last year, but the partners want to finish the preliminary front-end engineering and design work, or pre-FEED, said Josselyn O’Connor, the Community Stakeholder Advisor for the project.

“The project partners are committed to completing the pre-FEED work,” O’Connor said. “This work that we’re doing is going to inform and help shape future decisions.”

Although the ultimate fate of the project is still undecided, the project partners approved a budget of approximately $230 million for field work for the 2016 season.

The 2016 season’s geophysical work will include some onshore work near the proposed site of the LNG production facility in Nikiski and offshore work in the Cook Inlet from three vessels, all up to 240 feet in length. The vessels will collect data about the bottom surface and subsurface of Cook Inlet, evaluate seabed features and identify soil conditions.

Offshore, surveyors will be doing bathymetry — submarine topography — to gather information to determine the best route for the proposed pipeline. O’Connor said the work would begin as soon as April or May.

She also said project managers are still working on the resource reports for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“That’s a big milestone for 2016,” O’Connor said. “The second round of the resource reports will be coming out later this spring or summer.”

Throughout the process, Alaska LNG Project managers will coordinate with the other marine operations in Cook Inlet to ensure there are no issues, O’Connor said. She also said the marine communications team will also work closely with fishermen, both the drift fleet and the setnetters, to apprise them of what is going on.

“That’s very important to us,” O’Connor said. “We recognize the fishermen as an important stakeholder and are committed to communicating with them on a very regular basis.”

Throughout the winter, project coordinators have hosted “Coffee with AK LNG” community meetings to update locals with information about the project. The meetings have been well-attended, O’Connor said. Another is scheduled for April 14, where the hosts will present more information about the upcoming field season.

“The format of these coffee meetings has been absolutely wonderful,” O’Connor said. “It has allowed for this back-and-forth, two-way communication. It has allowed us to present bits and pieces as the project goes along.”

The next Coffee with Alaska LNG meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 14 at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center in Kenai.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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