Alaskan gas pipeline deadline extended

Alaska is giving companies two more months to submit bids to build what could be a massive pipeline to ship natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope.
According to the Associated Press:

Gov. Palin has been pushing hard for the new pipeline.

The deadline was pushed from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 because more companies have begun to inquire about the project, and the state has received feedback calling for more time to prepare a complete application, said Nan Thompson, a member of [Gov. Sarah] Palin’s energy team.
“It’s going to provide an opportunity for other interested parties to put together responsive bids,” Thompson said. “The application asks for a lot of detail and we wanted to give more applicants more time to do a better job.”
Applications became available July 3, not long after Palin signed the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act into law.

This could be a huge project. The North Slope has about 35 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey. There’s 8 BCF of gas that is simply recirculated back into the ground in Prudhoe Bay oil fields daily because it has nowhere to go and the U.S. doesn’t just flare this stuff (it also helps maintain field pressure).
If it happens there will likely be plenty of Houston connections. There are plenty of pipeline companies based here that could be candidates to build and operate it, and two of the three major North Slope producers, ConocoPhillips and BP are either based here or have North American HQ here. Then there are all the pipeline engineering firms, natural gas traders, etc. that call Houston home. A delegation from Alaska was in town earlier this year to meet with companies about the project.
But as the AP story points out, the two-month deadline extension could either be a good sign or a bad sign:

Republican state Sen. Charlie Huggins, chairman of the Senate Resources Committee, said he hopes the extension is not buying the administration time because there’s a lack of interest in the project.
“Normally this means you’re not getting any or many responses under the provisions that are laid out,” Huggins said. “The optimist in me says if the administration is doing this, they are doing it in the best interest of the state, so I have to assume they are doing the right thing.”