By Adam Pinsker
Channel 2 News
6:49 PM AKST, January 22, 2013
Senate Democrats and Republicans say it’s time to let drilling companies access millions of cubic feet of Southcentral natural gas in and around Cook Inlet.
Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) says figures from the consulting firm Petrotechnical Resources of Alaska illustrate the extent of the region’s demand for natural gas.
"The PRA determined 13 to 14 gas wells would need to be drilled every year in order to meet the needs in Southcentral," Giessel said.
Giessel chairs the Senate Resources Committee, which took testimony this week from the state Department of Natural Resources estimating there could be 355 million cubic feet of Cook Inlet natural gas in three different fields.
According to Giessel, utilities are reporting an increased demand for natural gas from customers, but are having a hard time securing contracts to access the gas.
Fellow Anchorage Sen. Bill Wielechowski, a Democrat, filed Senate Bill 33 to provide builders of a natural gas pipeline relief from state property taxes during construction of the line.
"One of the problems is, when you're building a pipeline, it's a huge amount of up-front money,” Wielechowski said. “So if they have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, it really hurts the economics.”
Wielechowski says construction of a pipeline would create up to 10,000 high-paying jobs for Alaskans during peak construction, with in-state spending on wages, goods and services of up to $6 billion.
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