Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker stands in the Peninsula Clarion office on Friday, May 6, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker stands in the Peninsula Clarion office on Friday, May 6, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Opinion: Alaska needs a governor who sees the Kenai Peninsula as the key to our economic future

It’s past time to monetize Alaska’s natural gas, the largest stranded reservoir in North America if not the world

  • By Bill Walker
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2022 11:44pm
  • Opinion

By Bill Walker

Whenever I am on the Kenai Peninsula, people ask me about the status of the already permitted gasline route to Nikiski. While I was in office, the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) held an LNG summit in Alaska that was very well attended. All the major Asian buyers participated alongside presidents and senior executives of all major Alaska oil and gas businesses and executives from Alaska Native Corporations.

Each presented their respective company’s interest and capabilities regarding the building of a gasline to tidewater at Nikiski. Highlights from the multiple-day LNG summit included a trip to the North Slope to see where our natural gas is reinjected every day and to experience how Alaskans continue to work in oil/gas production even during extreme weather conditions. The next stop was a tour of the existing LNG facility in Nikiski. It was one of those beautiful sunny winter days in Kenai, and when we took the tour bus loaded with Asian LNG buyers to The Cannery for a meal and presentations, they were greeted by a lineup of snowmachines to take them out on a trail ride.

They left Alaska absolutely mesmerized at what they saw and experienced while in our great state, and relationships were cemented for pursuing next steps on the project. Following the summit, my administration worked extensively with the LNG markets, and I personally met with the presidents and prime ministers of all the countries that are Alaska’s largest trade partners. I also met with the presidents and CEOs of all of the North Slope producer companies. Ultimately, AGDC received 15 signed Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) from the world’s largest LNG buyers from Asian markets including Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Unfortunately, when Mike Dunleavy came into office, he allowed all of those agreements to lapse and told the president of ExxonMobil Alaska that he didn’t like the project and didn’t want it to happen. I even received a phone call from the president of one of the largest Japanese buyers after I was out of office asking what happened because the Dunleavy administration was not even returning their calls. Sadly, many of those 15 customers have since moved on to sign agreements with other LNG projects in the U.S.

Recently, Dunleavy announced an Alaska LNG Summit in Asia, but he only participated by video conference with a few industry representatives traveling to Japan. While this checks off the box as a pre-election surprise on the gasline, it does nothing to advance the project.

It’s past time to monetize Alaska’s natural gas, the largest stranded reservoir in North America if not the world. With 79 federal permits in hand, we must re-engage with the LNG markets that Dunleavy dismissed. With my administration, we made significant headway, not just headlines, and I am convinced we would be under construction right now if Alaska had stayed the course.

No one is more bullish on Alaska than I am. Ranking Walker Drygas #1 is critical for new leadership truly dedicated to restoring Alaska’s position as a global energy giant. Together, we can rebuild Alaska and start firing on all our economic engines. I’d appreciate your vote on or before Nov. 8.

Bill Walker was the 11th governor of Alaska and is running for that position again alongside Heidi Drygas, former commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. Bill and Heidi are lifelong Alaskans and are running as an Independent unity ticket, with a commitment to represent every Alaskan.

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