Alaska could soon have a pipeline linking the state's liquefied natural gas to Asian markets.
U.K.-based BP PLC (NYSE: BP), along with U.S. majors Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), is in discussions to build a $40 billion pipeline to carry natural gas from the North Slope to Alaska's southern coast, according to reports. From there the gas could be shipped to markets in China, the Financial Times reported.
Until the pipeline is built, the resource is largely isolated because there are no pipelines to carry it to the Lower 48 of the United States. Plans were in the works for such a pipeline between Exxon Mobil and TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP), but it was stymied due to low prices for natural gas, the FT reported.
According to the newspaper, an agreement on the pipeline could come as soon as next week, or by the end of March, said John Minge, BP's president of exploration in the state.
Alaskan officials have said the three companies have been too slow to produce natural gas from the state ever since production plans were developed in 1977. Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican who succeeded Sarah Palin, wants to take the company's lease away, the FT reported.
Alaska's North Slope has as much as 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Natural gas closed Wednesday at $2.44 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange.