US Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today received confirmation from Christopher Smith, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at the Department of Energy (DOE), that liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects in Alaska are eligible for conditional authorizations.
“The facility on Kenai Peninsula has been exporting LNG since 1969,” Murkowski said. “Some forget that Alaska has been in the export business for a long, long period of time. Granted, these have been small amounts, but it has been a process that has been without interruption. It’s been the longest export contract we’ve had in the country.”
The original long-term authorization to export natural gas from the Cook Inlet was issued in 1967. Over the ensuing decades about 2.5 trillion cf of natural gas has been exported safely to Japan. Just as Alaska pioneered the Pacific LNG trade, it is breaking new ground by participating in the development of a “giga-project” – the US$45 to $65 billion Alaska LNG project. Unlike LNG projects in the Lower-48 the Alaska LNG project is more than just a liquefaction terminal. The project envisions a world-class gas treatment plant, pipeline and liquefaction plant.
Murkowski asked Smith directly whether the legislation the energy panel was considering, the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act, would in any way affect Alaska LNG’s eligibility for conditional authorizations, and if the standard 45-day deadline for final authorization would still be imposed on DOE.
“We have held the right to do conditional authorization for projects coming out of Alaska. This bill doesn’t change that,” Smith said. “We can do conditional authorizations for both (Alaska) projects. As we read the law as currently written, it doesn’t make any distinction between the Lower 48 and Alaska in terms of the time limit imposed on DOE.”
In an earlier exchange, Murkowski asked Smith if DOE viewed S. 33, which imposes the 45 day deadline on the agency to grant final authorization to LNG export projects after environmental review has concluded, as “workable and achievable.”
“Certainly, if this legislation is passed as is currently written, the department will be able to accomplish the mission,” Smith said.
Image from US Senate