Gas-line group board seeks clarity on confidentiality pacts

  • Saturday, January 10, 2015 11:03pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The board of the state corporation expected to be a key player in efforts to advance a major liquefied natural gas project in Alaska is trying to determine how it can operate if members do not sign confidentiality agreements.

On Tuesday, as part of a shake-up that included the removal of three board members, Gov. Bill Walker instructed the two state commissioners on the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s board to not sign such agreements in a bid to have the board operate more transparently.

At a meeting Thursday, board chairman John Burns said he had asked the corporation’s attorney and state attorney general to analyze the impact on the board’s work if new members do not sign the pledge.

Dan Fauske, president of the gas-line corporation, also known as AGDC, said a confidentiality pledge is needed because information is shared between the two gas-line projects being pursued by AGDC — the liquefied natural gas project and a stand-alone in-state gas pipeline — to reduce costs.

The state and companies might provide proprietary details to each other that should be kept confidential, such as the best pipeline components, composition of the gas or facility costs, he said. “You use that data to come out in a public hearing and provide good information, because you used that data to back up the assumptions you made during your analysis,” Fauske said.

State labor commissioner Heidi Drygas said not signing the agreement creates a predicament. But Drygas said she is confident there will be a way forward that allows board members to be fully engaged. The board also approved plans to cut spending by $90 million during this year and next. The groundwork for the cuts was laid ahead of Walker’s recent directive to halt new spending on the in-state gas line project and other big-ticket projects, Fauske said.

The in-state line was initiated five years ago as a way to get North Slope gas to Alaskans after efforts to advance a major gas line project appeared to stall. But the focus of the major gas-line project has shifted, from one that would serve North American markets to one that would be capable of overseas exports. The in-state line has been cast as the state’s backup plan, in case the larger project falters. But Walker, who took office last month, is evaluating how or whether to proceed with the in-state project. Information is being shared between the two projects to reduce duplication of efforts and save money, Fauske said. The stand-alone pipeline will focus on refining engineering and design work over the coming months as it waits for the partners in the larger project to decide in 2016 if they will advance the effort.

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