Walker lays out expectations for gas line progress

JUNEAU — Gov. Bill Walker said he wants the state and the North Slope’s major producers to reach agreement on key contracts and issues related to a major gas project before the end of the current legislative session.

“If agreements are not reached by the end of the regular session, we will need to consider all of our options going forward,” Walker said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “However, at this time we do not know what all of those options would be.”

In a letter to leaders of BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil dated last week, Walker made clear his desire to reach agreement on eight outstanding issues before the regular session ends. He said he would have “no other choice” but to consider other options for commercializing Alaska’s gas if agreement is not reached.

The companies are partners with the state in pursuing a major liquefied natural gas project.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, and chair of the Senate Resources Committee, said Walker may view this as a negotiating technique.

Deputy Natural Resources Commissioner Marty Rutherford told a House committee Wednesday that the administration is committed to the Alaska LNG project but is also concerned about the “slow pace” of the commercial agreements. At one point, it was hoped that agreements would be brought to lawmakers for consideration last year. Instead, a gas line special session last fall focused on the state buying out TransCanada Corp.’s position in the project.

Now, the hope is that lawmakers would have the agreements and a constitutional amendment related to fiscal terms for a project to consider during a special session this spring, Rutherford said.

Dave Van Tuyl, regional manager for BP in Alaska, told the House Resources Committee he would love for the agreements to be done, but he said they are complex and will take time to work out. The underlying agreements will bind the parties together for decades, making it essential that the agreements are done fairly and well, he said.

Rutherford said it’s the administration’s hope to get agreements to the legislature by the end of March — weeks before the scheduled end of the regular session — to set up a special session.

The schedule is driven in part by the desire to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot for this year’s general election, she said.

The producers have said they want predictable and durable tax and royalty terms. The attorney general has said a constitutional amendment would be needed to support that “fiscal stability” agreement, Rutherford said.

The next general election is 2018.

More in News

The Homer Spit is evacuated during the July 28 tsunami warning at about 10:50 p.m. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Tsunami warning test scheduled for Wednesday morning

The National Weather Service will conduct a statewide test of the tsunami… Continue reading

A mock up of the Soldotna Field House. (Photo via City of Soldotna)
Soldotna designates field house funds

Construction of a field house in Soldotna took a step forward last… Continue reading

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks during a meeting of the House State Affairs committee on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Carpenter, Ruffridge target state finances

The central Kenai Peninsula’s representatives in the Alaska House of Representatives have… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19: Local cases fall after last week’s spike

After a spike of 50 new COVID-19 cases was reported in the… Continue reading

A tripod set by the Soldotna and Kenai Rotary Clubs stands over the ice of the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local Rotary Clubs testing new contest for next winter

The Rotary Clubs of Soldotna and Kenai are performing a test in… Continue reading

Alaska State Troopers logo.
State Trooper convicted of attempted sexual abuse of a minor

Vance Peronto, formerly an Alaska State Trooper based in Soldotna, was convicted… Continue reading

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna moves ahead with staff recruitment strategies

Soldotna City Council members last week gave city administration a thumbs up… Continue reading

State representatives Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, and Andi Story, D-Juneau, offering competing amendments to a bill increasing the per-student funding formula for public schools by $1,250 during a House Education Committee meeting Wednesday morning. McKay’s proposal to lower the increase to $150 was defeated. Story’s proposal to implement an increase during the next two years was approved, after her proposed amounts totalling about $1,500 were reduced to $800.
Borough, Soldotna call on Legislature to increase school funding

The City of Soldotna last week became the latest entity to call… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears goalie Nils Wallstrom celebrates winning a shootout over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears sweep Ice Dogs, move into 3rd place

The Kenai River Brown Bears earned a two-game sweep over the Fairbanks… Continue reading

Most Read