ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Time is running out for state government executives to find a buyer for the massive natural gas reserves stranded on Alaska's North Slope, but now, Gov. Bill Walker says advocates of the pipeline mega-project have the best opportunity yet to make the sales pitch.
Walker will travel to China next week with President Donald Trump and an array of U.S. industry leaders.
Keith Meyer, president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, will also make the trip to Beijing.
Since last year, the state-owned AGDC has had full ownership of AKLNG, as private industry abandoned the project due to stubbornly low oil and gas prices and a weak outlook.
Walker has advocated development of an Alaska-owned pipeline for decades, including several trips to Asia in search of a large enough buyer to get North Slope gas out of the ground.
Now, there is great sense of urgency on two fronts.
The utility boards and local governments in Asia that need the volume of gas the Last Frontier could provide ink 20- or 30-year contracts that are up for renewal in the next year and a half, and when AGDC runs out of cash next year, state government is unlikely to direct any more money to the long elusive project unless there are concrete signs of a payoff for the investment.
Walker said in a Thursday phone call with reporters that the caliber of those participating in the upcoming trip is what sets this latest effort apart from prior visits he made to China, Japan, and South Korea.
He will be among two dozen corporate leaders listed as traveling with the president, according to CNBC, and there will also be people like the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs and leaders from top energy and technology companies.
"When you are with a team of this magnitude and these kind of players, it's our best market opportunity yet," Walker said.
President Trump leaves Friday for the 12-day trip to Asia, which begins with a stop in Hawaii and also includes visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Walker will travel with the president to Hawaii, he said, and a meeting will be held there on Friday evening among military leaders and governors representing Pacific regions to discuss security issues related to North Korean encroachment.