Is it time to end TransCanada subsidy?

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski spoke to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski spoke to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski says it’s time for the state to end its commitment to TransCanada on a natural gas pipeline.

With the focus on an All-Alaska gas line to serve the Railbelt, Murkowski says the state’s licensee is doing little for the subsidy it has been promised.

“So here we are, the contract remains and now TransCanada receives subsidies to develop a line flowing to tidewater in Alaska, rather than Alberta,” Murkowski says.

Alaska awarded a license to TransCanada in 2008 to begin work on a 1,700 mile pipeline from the North Slope to Alberta, Canada, where the gas would be distributed.

The state committed up to $500 million toward pipeline development and permitting.  The next year, Exxon Mobile joined Trans-Canada, and Alaska’s other major producers, BP and ConocoPhillips, started a competing project.  Meanwhile, the potential market for Alaska natural gas was shrinking.

Now the state is pursuing an in-state line with all three producers.  TransCanada will be paid even if a line is not built.

In a speech yesterday (Thursday) to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, Murkowski questioned that agreement.

“Can anyone tell me what TransCanada currently brings to the table that makes it deserving of an equity share?  It has no gas, never did. The LNG line now is not going through the Yukon where TransCanada formerly had some the right of ways. Remember that gas was going into Alberta where it would be distributed.  It’s  no longer negotiating with the producers on behalf of the state.”

Murkowski supports an in-state line from the North Slope that would end at a Southcentral export facility.

Last week, the state signed an agreement with Japan Bank for International Cooperation to work together on financing a Liquified Natural Gas pipeline and export facility.

The former governor and first lady Nancy Murkowski were in Juneau this week on personal business.  He said he misses the platform he used to have for his ideas.

“One of things about being in politics, particularly when you’re no longer in politics, is you have strong feelings about how things should be done but you don’t have a soapbox,” he said. “So you do the next best thing.”

That’s periodically speaking to chambers of commerce and other groups.

Frank Murkowski was elected governor in 2002 and served one term.  He represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate for 22 years.

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