Alaska LNG Project takes step forward with FERC filing

HOUSTON — Companies working to develop a  pipeline and LNG plant in Alaska have submitted a formal request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to start  an environmental review required for siting, design and permitting for construction.

The Alaska LNG project is a joint effort among Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, TransCanada and the state of Alaska that aims to  run an 800-mile pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope to a natural gas liquefaction plant in the town of Nikiski on the southern coast’s Cook Inlet.

The pipeline is to carry as much as 3.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and the total investment could wind up from $45 billion to $65 billion.

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In a joint announcement made Monday, the companies called the filing an important step for the project. The Alaska LNG project is currently in the pre-engineering and design phase, which is expected to be completed by 2016 and cost about $500 million.

The project has been an important political issue in Alaska, which has faced declining oil production. Many see this natural gas project as a way to reinvigorate the state’s  energy industry.

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About two years ago, executives at BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and TransCanada proposed building an LNG plant in Nikiski to sell gas to Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea.

In July 2014, the companies behind the Alaska project asked regulators for permission to export up to 20 million metric tons a year of liquefied natural gas.

To help move the project along, the U.S. Department of Energy said that it planned to streamline the Alaska project’s application to export natural gas by exempting it from a new rule  changing  how export proposals are evaluated. With the exemption, the Alaska LNG project could receive a conditional license to export LNG while it awaits a final export license approval, according to statements by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.