June 10, 2010 |

Second pipeline firm to give plans Tuesday

Representatives of one of two companies vying to build a natural gas pipeline paralleling the Alaska Highway will speak with Haines Borough leaders 5 p.m. Tuesday at the assembly chambers.

That will be followed at 6:30 p.m. with an open house public meeting.

The meetings are to provide an overview of the Alaska Pipeline Project and its schedule and to provide a forum for questions from local leaders and residents about the company’s plans.

Alaska Pipeline Project is a partnership between TransCanada and ExxonMobil. Its plan would be to connect natural gas from Prudhoe Bay to southern markets either by an 803-mile pipeline to Valdez or by a 1,700-mile line to northwestern Alberta.

The project currently is midway through a three-month "open season," when gas line developers provide information about the project to potential shippers, including costs, engineering design, tariffs and timelines.

Shippers will assess the information and determine whether to make long-term commitments to reserve capacity in the line. Such advance commitments are required to secure financing for the project.

The "open season" also may determine the company’s preferred route for the pipeline. The open season ends July 30.

Company literature says the company also will provide "delivery points" to provide communities along the route with gas. The locations for such spurs haven’t been determined.

The project has offices in Whitehorse, Anchorage, Calgary and Houston.

Representatives of a competing pipeline company called "Denali" visited Haines in March. They told assembly members Haines was being considered as a potential port for trans-shipment of pipeline and other materials for the project, laying out a 10-year timeline for the work.

Denali and the Alaska Pipeline Project both will seek contracts this year with North Slope natural gas suppliers. During the open season, suppliers will determine if the pipeline is economically feasible and which company has the better plan to build it.

Competition from recently discovered shale gas reserves in the continental United States and Canada, increased construction costs, the price of natural gas, the value of the U.S. dollar and permitting are factors that may hinder the project.

Denali representatives told borough officials they couldn’t make a commitment to Haines or other communities until after the open season process.

Denali officials said Haines could be the offloading site of 60 to 100 miles of pipe to be delivered in 80-foot sections over two or three years.

The State of Alaska has awarded seed money and a license to TransCanada to build and operate a pipeline, but the company has not yet secured federal permits required for construction.

Denali has invested its own money in the project.