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Alaska LNG permit process back on track with challenges ahead

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US regulators have issued environmental  impact statement as a draft for public comment

LNG Journal editor

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued the draft environmental impact statement on the Alaska LNG project proposed by the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. and concluded that it would have significant impacts on the state offset by many economic benefits.

The project was launched nine years ago and LNG would be produced and exported by 2025 after engineering, construction and production costs estimated at around $43 billion.

Measures

The FERC conclusions were that the venture’s significant environmental impacts would also bring an economic boost from export revenues in commercializing the natural gas resources of Alaska’s North Slope.

Alaska’s project would comprise several pipelines, including a 807-mile main line of 42-inches in diameter and with associated above-ground facilities.

These include eight compressor stations and a liquefaction facility with output of 20 million tonnes per annum at Nikiski on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet on the Kenai Peninsula.

The main pipeline would deliver peak capacity of 3.9 billion standard cubic feet per day of natural gas from companies such as US major ExxonMobil and BP of the UK.

The publication of the three-volume FERC report marks a key step in the state’s efforts to secure a permit leading to construction.

A public comment period has now started as part of the permit process and would last until October 3.

The FERC draft report said that the project would have significant environmental impacts if it goes ahead, though most impacts could be minimized with mitigation measures.

“However, some of the adverse impacts would be significant even after the implementation of mitigation measures,” stated the regulator.

The President of the state-owned AGDC, Joe Dubler, said the FERC report represented substantial progress for the Alaska LNG project.

“Alaska LNG holds the potential for significant energy, economic and employment benefits for Alaskans,” said Dubler.

“We will now begin to thoroughly examine this comprehensive document to understand the Commission’s recommendations,” he added.

“The ongoing permitting process incorporates 150,000 pages of data and should give Alaskans confidence that the project’s merits and impacts are being rigorously scrutinized,” he explained.

The gas treatment facilities comprising a main plant at Prudhoe Bay and the Point Thomson gas transmission line would be on state land designated for oil and natural gas development within the North Slope Borough.

“We conclude that project construction and operation would result in temporary, long-term, and permanent impacts on the environment,” said the FERC report.

“Most impacts would not be significant or would be reduced to less than significant levels with the implementation of proposed or recommended avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures, but some impacts would be adverse and significant,” explained the regulator.

“We conclude that constructing the project would have significant impacts on permafrost due to granular fill placement, particularly for the Mainline Pipeline facilities,” it said.

“The project would have significant adverse impacts on wetlands from granular fill placement resulting in substantial conversions of wetlands to uplands,” added the report.

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