August 01, 2003
In letters to Energy Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin and House Committee on Resources Chairman Richard Pombo, Murkowski said that members of the panel would benefit from learning firsthand "how Alaska can assist in providing much needed natural gas to the rest of the nation."
Tauzin and Pombo co-chair the Speaker's Task Force for Affordable Natural Gas, which is charged with "considering short- and long-term ideas to encourage a stable supply of natural gas to ease prices."
Murkowski noted that Alaska's North Slope contains 35 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves and that another 65 trillion cubic feet are estimated to exist on the Slope. He noted that for this gas to be available to the Lower 48, a pipeline system costing in the neighborhood of $20 billion must be built. The alternative volume in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) would cost at least $26 billion.
"Thus, the American consumer is much better off if the pipeline is built," said Murkowski. "And, it is better for the United States from a balance-of-payments point of view."
The U.S. Senate has approved a tax credit for the project to reduce the financial risk of fluctuating gas prices. The House has not. The industry has said this tax consideration is critical for the project to proceed.
"I believe that the panel's visit to Alaska would help members in considering such issues as pipeline route, federal and state financial incentives and regulatory issues," Murkowski said. "Panel members would be able to see existing operations on the North Slope and in Cook Inlet, future exploration sites and possible transportation routes."
The governor said members would hear testimony from government and private witnesses with expertise in all phases of natural gas development, transportation and financing.
"I believe that your panel's visit to Alaska would significantly facilitate the development of recommendations to the Speaker by the Sept. 30 deadline," Murkowski said.
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