Alaska, Oil Giants Reach Deal On $40 Billion Pipeline Project

on March 31 2012 2:36 PM

Alaska and a group of oil giants Friday reached a deal to advance a $40 billion pipeline project to export the state's liquefied natural gas to Asia, where it would fetch a much higher price than in the U.S.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and the CEOs of BP, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips announced an end to litigation involving Point Thomson, a field that holds a quarter of the North Slope's 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The state wanted to pull the lease from the oil companies that had left the land undeveloped for more than 30 years. Alaskan Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan said in a statement that the companies must earn their acreage.

The CEOs of these oil companies -- ExxonMobil's Rex Tillerson, BP's Bob Dudley and ConocoPhillips' Jim Mulva -- hailed the deal in a letter to Parnell Friday.

With the settlement now finalized, our companies are moving forward, as participating co-venturers, with the initial development phase at Point Thomson with confidence that North Slope gas development will ultimately bring the Point Thomson resource to market, the three oil company CEOs wrote.

The Point Thomson project could bring $400 billion in revenue to Alaska, with liquefied natural gas selling seven times higher in Japan and China than in the U.S., according to the Financial Times. Under the proposal, the pipeline would carry natural gas from the North Slope to Alaska's southern coast, where it can then be shipped to Asian markets.

Though a deal to get the project started is in place, the proposal will need 10 years to develop, with regulatory hurdles along the way, the paper reported.

Exxon and pipeline company TransCanada had a plan to bring Alaskan natural gas to the rest of the United States, but the shale boom in the rest of the U.S. made the proposal financially unattractive, the Financial Times said.