Alaska has bought Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.'s stake in an LNG megaproject for $64.6-million (U.S.) – another twist in a four-decade quest to build a natural gas conduit from the state's remote North Slope.
Developed by Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips Co. and BP PLC, the Alaska LNG proposal includes a 1,300-kilometre pipeline to a terminal at Nikiski, southwest of Anchorage, where the gas would be liquefied for export to Asia as early as 2024. The project's final price tag could reach $65-billion.
The Canadian pipeline company and the state signed an agreement last year, which authorized TransCanada to pay upfront capital costs and hold the state's 25-per-cent share of ownership in the project's gas treatment plant and pipeline. TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said the agreement also provided Alaska the right to buy the Canadian pipeline company's stake in the project.
After being recommended by Alaska Governor Bill Walker in September, the acquisition was finalized on Tuesday. The deal allows Alaska to become a direct participant in the project and could make the venture more beneficial to state coffers – by up to $400-million annually when gas starts flowing, based on the expectation by the state that it can finance its share of the project at a lower cost than TransCanada could.
Prior to 2010, TransCanada and Exxon had been eyeing an overland pipeline project through Western Canada to reach U.S. markets. But with the continental U.S. awash in natural gas owing to booming production from shale fields, the focus shifted to potential LNG exports to Asia.
"TransCanada has been committed to the development of natural gas resources in Alaska for decades, and has made considerable contributions to the advancement of the Alaska LNG project over the last few years," Mr. Cooper said in an e-mail. "While our role in this project has concluded, we will continue to watch its progress closely."
However, it is now unclear who will operate the Alaska LNG project. TransCanada said there is currently no plan to get involved.