Alaskan gas pipeline: the Russians want in

James Mulva, Chief Executive Officer, ConocoPhillips and Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Management Committee, Gazprom. (Gazprom photo).

Officials with Gazprom, Russia’s giant natural gas business, have been crowing about meetings they had in Alaska this week to get in on the proposed natural gas pipeline projects that are underway.
According to Bloomberg:

“State-run Gazprom sent eight senior executives to Anchorage for talks yesterday with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources and ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulva, state and company officials said.
Gazprom, which already supplies a quarter of Europe’s natural gas, is seeking to increase its reach with projects around the world, including in North America. The courtship of Alaska comes three weeks before the U.S. presidential election, in which Russia’s resurgence has become a campaign issue.”

There will most likely only be one pipeline, but there are currently two proposed projects: the one the State of Alaska is backing with TransCanada and the Denali project proposed by ConocoPhillips and BP.
The New York Times points out the meeting came just a few weeks after Gov. Sarah Palin (and vice presidential candidate) criticized Russia. Also from the Times:

“We had thought initially that only one or two people would be coming,” Marty Rutherford, a deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, said in a telephone interview. “But it turned out to be about a dozen.

“The delegation met with Tom Irwin, the commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, who was appointed by Ms. Palin, and with James J. Mulva, the chief executive of ConocoPhillips, a Texas oil company. Gazprom has been in talks with Conoco, which does business in Russia, about joining the Alaskan pipeline consortium.

A ConocoPhillips spokesman told the Chronicle Mulva met with Gazprom officials on Monday in Alaska to discuss “…potential business ventures,” but ….
“The focus of the conversation was not Denali – The Alaska Gas Pipeline, but rather other broad-based business opportunities,” spokesman Bill Tanner said.
Here’s the AP story and one by Reuters, as well as the Anchorage Daily News’ list of gas pipeline related stories.