By Dan Fiorucci
Channel 2 News
9:52 PM AKDT, September 16, 2012
A lawyer for the firm representing the Gasline Port Authority says Alaska is going nowhere fast under its current attempts to construct a North Slope Natural Gas Pipeline in the state.
"Do nothing, status quo -- clearly the highest probability outcome," Craig Richards predicted. "That's been the outcome for the past 35 years."
Richards was speaking before the "LNG Summit" in Valdez, last week.
Richards says the way the state is running the project, right now, is completely backwards -- and has been so since at least the Murkowski Administration.
He emphasizes that the big three oil companies are the tenants at the North Slope -- and the state is the owner of the land there. He says the landlord should be running the show.
Instead, Richards says, our government is allowing the tenants to have veto power over attempts to sell our natural gas and he believes that's wrong.
Richards likens the situation to the owner of a house renting the first two floors to tenants. And then asking those tenants if it's alright if he rents out the third floor to another tenant. Ceding power that way in a private property agreement is crazy, Richards believes. And, he says, it's no less crazy for the state to do business that way.
"The ....option....the one that I'm suggesting might be in Alaska's best interests," he told the LNG Summit, is that, "we should start seriously talking about is state control. That is take control away from the producers, and for the state to step in to that development role,"
Richards wants to see an 800 mile natural gas pipeline built from the North Slope -- parallalelling the Trans Alaska Pipeline. He wants to see a Natural Gas Liquefaction plant built in Valdez, and he wants to see Alaskan North Slope Natural Gas shipped from there to lucrative markets in Asia.
"The Asian market wants this gas," he says. "They want it very badly. We're a stable country. We have the cheapest potential project in the world to deliver LNG (to Asian Markets) -- which means they can take it at cheapest price. I would go to them, (Asian countries like Japan and China) and I would say 'How much do you want?' They'd tel us.
Then, Richards continued, 'I'd say, "Are you interested in purchasing at the wellhead? And the answer is gonna be, 'unequivocally.' I'd take their purchase office to the North Slope producer, and I'd say, 'Hey, if you're *not* interested in doing the project -- right now -- under our terms, you're gonna sell to this guy at the wellhead for a couple of bucks an MCF (Million Cubic Feet), and he's gonna take the project forward."
Tonight, (Sunday) Channel 2 News contacted the Governor's Office and asked a representative of Mr. Parnell what she thought of Mr. Richards proposal. Sharon Leighow said that Richards' criticism is "outdated."
She pointed out that the Governor has reached a settlement on the Point Thomson gas field with Exxon, and she says that Mr. Parnell has ordered the "Big Three" to come up with a unified proposal for a gas pipeline by the end of this month.
Leighow says things are moving forward.
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