by Governor Bill Walker
Previous governors waited for someone else to bring our vast amounts of natural gas to market. We are done waiting. We took charge, and in four years have brought the gasline project to the cusp of construction. Every step of the way, skeptics have said “impossible.” Every step of the way, we have proven them wrong. We will build the natural gas pipeline. We are on track to begin construction before 2020.
Alaskans don’t want handouts, we want jobs. With the highest price of energy anywhere in the country, many Alaskans struggle to make ends meet, let alone start a business. Alaskans want the opportunity to take care of themselves and their families, so that their communities are safe and prosperous.
There is no other project that comes close to addressing these needs as quickly and dramatically as the gasline. Right away, the project will create 12,000 gasline construction jobs. These will pay Alaskans working 7-12s up to $30,000 per month. A Project Labor Agreement will ensure that these jobs go first and foremost to Alaskans.
When the gas begins to flow, communities along the pipeline will immediately see a drop in energy prices – as much as a 75% reduction in the Interior. Twenty percent of the State’s available royalty revenue from gas sales will go to fund energy projects for communities without direct access to the gas, significantly reducing the cost of energy across the entire state. Low cost energy would enable us to finally make value added products instead of just shipping out raw materials for manufacturing somewhere else. Statewide energy investment alone will create another 31,000 permanent jobs.
Our state will boom like no other time since the construction of the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline.
The opportunity is real. I know it because I have seen the pieces come together. Alaskans need to know what we’ve accomplished so far, and how close we have come. So let’s walk through it:
In February of 2016, the North Slope producers asked me, in order to qualify the Project for tax exempt financing, if the State would be willing to take on the ownership of the gasline. With decades of experience in Alaska resource development, the North Slope, and world gas markets, I said yes and we got to work.
There are two essential requirements for the gasline: gas supply and market participants to commit to long term gas purchase agreements. These agreements finance the project.
Let’s start with supply. When oil comes out of Prudhoe Bay each day, so does gas. A lot of gas. The gas is reinjected back into the ground daily at a volume exceeding that consumed every day in California, Oregon and Washington combined. It is the largest stranded gas field in North America, if not the world.
The North Slope producers control the gas, and to lock down supply we needed them to come to the table. After months of negotiations, BP and ExxonMobil have committed to sell gas into the project. These agreements are binding. The supply is there.
The other main component is gas purchasers. My team and I have gone to the most powerful people in the world to secure purchase agreements. I presented the Alaska gasline project to President Trump at the White House, who knows that this project will reduce our trade deficit, and he helped bring our project to the global market. In Japan, I presented at the World Gas Consumers and Producers Conference in Tokyo, met with the presidents of all of Japan’s major power and utility companies. I met with key government and industry officials in Seoul and South Korea’s President Moon. I hosted China President Xi and his entire cabinet in Anchorage – they were so interested in our long-term gas supply that they came to us.
And we got results. Alaska Gasline Development Authority (AGDC) has now signed MOUs with Tokyo Gas and Korea Gas (KOGAS) which is the largest buyer of LNG in the world. In the presence of President Trump and President Xi, I signed a Joint Development Agreement with Sinopec, the world’s largest integrated oil and gas company; Bank of China, the world’s fourth largest bank; and, the China Investment Company (CIC), the world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund. We are in final negotiations with these companies to sign binding agreements.
We’re in the home stretch. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in the final stage of issuing a permit for building the gasline. It is expected in the first quarter of 2019.
Senator Dunleavy, before he quit the Senate, introduced legislation to remove all funding from the gasline project and recently voiced his lack of support for the Project. Senator Begich has had absolutely no interest in or exhibited any understanding of this project. To my challengers: I welcome this debate.
The opportunity is at hand, but now the voters must decide: will we stand together to make this project happen? Or will we elect someone openly opposed to the project? I’m all in. I will get it done. C’mon Alaskans, let’s get to work and build our future together.