Parnell expected to meet with oil CEOs

JUNEAU, Alaska — The chief executives of the big three North Slope energy producers are expected to meet with Gov. Sean Parnell today.

This virtually unheard-of meeting between the top executives and an Alaska governor comes three months after it was proposed by Parnell, who said it was time that the region’s major players, including the state, “work collectively to determine the shape of the next generation of North Slope resource development.”

The letter, which went to the CEOs of Exxon Mobil Corp., Rex Tillerson, BP, Bob Dudley, and ConocoPhillips, Jim Mulva, called for a “multi-party meeting of the gas commercialization stakeholders.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what might arise from the meeting, or whether there would be any announcements. Tillerson, Dudley and Mulva also are expected to attend a reception in Anchorage.

Parnell, hoping to jolt stalled efforts to advance a major natural gas pipeline from the North Slope, in October said he wants the companies to unite behind a project that would allow for liquefied natural gas to be shipped overseas, if the market truly has shifted from the Lower 48.

He said he wants them to do this under the framework of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. If they do, he said the state can be flexible, including talking tax and royalty terms.

TransCanada Corp., which is working with Exxon Mobil to advance a project, missed a December 2010 self-imposed target for securing agreements and has yet to announce any agreements with potential shippers. Lawmakers last session were antsy about the perceived lack of progress. Some questioned whether the state should continue down this path or seek to cut its losses.

Last month, Parnell said he expected the major players to get behind one project or the state would move in another direction. He also said the producers were talking, which he considered progress.

A TransCanada spokesman, Terry Cunha, said by email Wednesday that the company is aware of the reception, “but we don’t know if they plan on announcing anything, or what it would be if they are planning something. We have not been given any insight.”