Project leads say there’s a window of opportunity to accomplish the Alaska LNG Project, and local groups are making their support known. That project, if completed, would move gas from the North Slope via an 800-mile pipeline to Nikiski, where it would be exported in liquid form.
The federal government is currently soliciting comments on a draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the project that discusses planned operations at Prudhoe Bay, Point Thomson and the Kuparuk River. The statement supplements a 2020 environmental impact statement and was prepared in response to a challenge by the Sierra Club, which argued that the original statement “did not examine all of the reasonably foreseeable impacts” of the project.
The purpose of the draft supplemental environmental impact statement is to evaluate “potential environmental impacts” associated with natural gas production on the North Slope and a life cycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions for the gas exported through the project.
The supplement statement comes amid renewed optimism from project leaders.
Alaska LNG Project Manager Brad Chastain told attendees at a joint Kenai and Soldotna chamber of commerce luncheon last month that “every planet possible” is currently aligned for the project to happen. Chastain cited new opportunities for federal money and an increase in global demand for oil following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as among the factors favoring the project.
The project has three key factors: a gas treatment on the North Slope, an 800-mile pipeline and a liquefaction facility in Nikiski. The treatment plant will condition gas taken from the Prudhoe Bay and Point Thomson fields. Once the gas is conditioned, it will be moved through the pipeline to the Nikiski facility, where it will be liquefied.
The planned Alaska LNG pipeline route generally follows that of the trans-Alaska pipeline until about Livengood, which is north of Fairbanks. From there, the proposed LNG pipeline veers west through the Denali Borough, into the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, under Cook Inlet and into Nikiski. Interconnections along the pipeline between the North Slope and Nikiski will address in-state demand for gas, Chastain said.
The plan is for the liquefaction plant in Nikiski — to be located south of the Nutrien plant near Miller Loop Road — to export 20 million tonnes per year. The project has gradually accumulated land parcels throughout Nikiski. From Nikiski, the gas would be changed from a gaseous to liquid state and then exported to primarily Asian markets, which is where Chastain said the demand is.
Funding got a major boost under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Through that legislation, which Sen. Lisa Murkowski helped spearhead, the LNG Project now has access to an existing loan guarantee program that will provide a roughly $26 billion funding backstop. The project’s total capital costs are estimated to be around $38.7 billion.
In the wake of revived interest in the project and the current open comment period, local municipalities are making their support for the Alaska LNG Project known.
Members of the Kenai City Council approved during their Wednesday meeting a letter from Mayor Brian Gabriel to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory that emphasizes the benefits completion of the Alaska LNG Project would bring to the City of Kenai.
Those benefits, Gabriel wrote, include employment opportunities for local residents, workforce “growth and stability” and an affordable gas supply for power generation.
“We critically need the Alaska LNG Project to deliver clean-burning and reasonably priced energy to maintain our quality of life and to provide increased economic opportunities here on the Kenai,” Gabriel wrote.
The Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center also penned a letter to the feds stating its support for the project.
“In the near future, our energy needs must be accommodated to allow the energy transition process to move forward,” the letter said. “The Alaska LNG Project provides an excellent way to improve the environment, provide a clean-burning fuel source, and continue the transition to other fuels.”
Similarly, members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will consider at their Aug. 9 meeting a resolution stating the borough’s support for the Alaska LNG Project.
The legislation, which is sponsored by Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, says that the project plan in Nikiski would be “in the best interest” of borough residents and a benefit to Alaska’s economy. Pierce wrote in a July 28 memo to assembly members that “it is time for the Alaska LNG Project to move forward.”
“Applicable regulatory agencies and decisionmakers should recognize that time is of the essence and that expeditiously moving this project forward is in the best interests of local, state, and federal energy policy and security,” that resolution says.
The comment period for the draft supplemental environmental impact statement closes on Aug. 15. More information about the Alaska LNG Project, including an interactive pipeline map, can be found on the project website at alaska-lng.com.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.