Alaska Gas Pipeline

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy.

Alaska Gas Pipeline is a proposed natural gas pipeline.[1]


The pipeline runs from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Caroline, Alberta.

Loading map...

Project Details

  • Operator: TransCanada, ExxonMobil
  • Current capacity: Million cubic feet per day
  • Proposed capacity: 4100 Million cubic feet per day
  • Length: miles / km
  • Status: Cancelled
  • Start Year:


The Alaska gas pipeline is a project proposed from the joint efforts between TransCanada Corp. and Exxon Mobile Corp. to develop a natural gas pipeline under the AGIA a.k.a. Alaska Gas Inducement Act, adopted by Alaska Legislature in 2007.[2] The project originally proposed two options during its open season offering over a three-month period from April 30 to July 30, 2010. An 'open season' in layman's terms is when a company conducts a non-binding show of interest or poll in the marketplace, they ask potential customers "if we build it, will you come?".

The first option was a pipeline from Alaska North Slope through Alaska, the Yukon Territory, British Columbia and to Alberta for a total distance of approx. 1,700 miles. Gas was then to be delivered on through existing pipelines serving the major North American markets. The second option proposed was to transport natural gas from the North Slope to Valdez, AK for a distance of approx. 800 miles. Once in Valdez it would be converted to liquiefied natural gas in facilities built by others and then shipped to North American and International markets. An additional component to each option is a gas treatment plant (GTP) and Point Thomson natural gas pipeline. The proposed building site for the GTP would be at North Slope's Prudhoe Bay facilities which then treats the gas to be shipped in the pipeline. The Point Thomson field would have approximately 58 miles of pipeline to connect natural gas supplies from the field to the plant and the pipeline.

Both options give Alaskan communities the opportunity to acquire natural gas from a minimum of five delivery points along the pipeline. An Alberta option provides for the ability to have local natural gas delivery in Canada.[3] TransCanada has secured state seed money and a license from the state of Alaska to build and operate a pipeline, but does not yet have federal approvals needed to start construction. On June 11, 2009 TransCanada announced it had formed an agreement with ExxonMobil to work together in bringing the gas to market.[4]

In May 2012 TransCanada formally closed their open season. TransCanada's license with the AGIA required that they file a complete application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October 2012 for a certificate to build and operate the pipeline. In May 2012 the state of Alaska granted TransCanada a two-year postponment of the deadline to give the company and North Slope producers more time to explore the best market for Alaska gas. By the summer of 2014 the project became more focused on export so the state and TransCanada terminated their AGIA agreement.[5]


Large natural gas reserves were discovered in Prudhoe Bay in 1967. Talk of a pipeline peaked during the 1973 OPEC oil embargo and several companies came out in favor of large pipeline projects. Canadian Arctic Gas Pipeline, Ltd.—a consortium of large oil companies including Shell, Exxon, and TransCanada—proposed a route from Alaska's Prudhoe Bay across northern Yukon to the Mackenzie Delta, and then south through the Mackenzie Valley to Alberta. In addition, the Foothills Pipeline consortium pursued a competing Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, starting at the Mackenzie Delta and also running along the river valley to Alberta. Either proposal required the approval of the Canadian government, which named Thomas Berger to lead an inquiry into the proposals. Berger's inquiry resulted in a recommendation for a ten-year moratorium on development of the pipeline to deal with issues such as Aboriginal land claims and setting aside of conservation areas.

In the United States, three competing applications were filed with the Federal Power Commission to construct a natural gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay. A proposal sponsored by El Paso Corporation routed the pipeline to Valdez along the oil pipeline route with LNG tankers then transporting the gas to terminals on the west coast. The other two proposals would cross Canada on a route parallel to the Alaska Highway. The Federal Power Commission conducted lengthy hearings on the relative merits of the three plans, and under the Natural Gas Act[6] the Commission had the legal right to select the final route. Following the 1976 elections where John McMillian, CEO of Northwest Pipeline was a major supporter of Jimmy Carter, President Carter proposed special legislation to transfer the task of selecting a project from the Federal Power Commission to the President. Congress adopted the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Act of 1977,[7] and Carter selected the project sponsored by Northwest to the exclusion of the other two projects. The Commission then proceeded to conduct further proceedings to issue certificates of public convenience and necessity to authorize construction of pipelines from Prudhoe Bay and extending to San Francisco and Chicago, and the United States and Canada entered into an agreement regarding having the gas pipeline follow the Alaskan Highway route.

In 1981 to 1982 test sites were built at 7 locations next to the oil pipeline over a 600-mile spread with pipes buried in the ground circulating a glycol solution to simulate gas flowing in the pipes chilled at 10 Deg F. to study the effects on the permafrost and collect temperature and movement data. This was built over a two-year period and ran for another 2 years. Data was stored on cassette tapes and changed weekly, which was high-tech at the time. The data was used to help with building the new gas pipeline which was to be buried instead of above ground like the oil pipeline. The tests were also verified in labs as late as 1991, 10 years later. Building an LNG facility would not work in the North Slope as there is only a 3-month window for tankers to move the gas.

Ultimately, Northwest's consortium could not finance the project, and instead decided to "prebuild" the segments from Alberta to San Francisco and Chicago. Northwest justified the prebuild on the theory that using Canadian gas to depreciate the pipeline for a period of years would make the transportation of Alaskan gas more economic at a later date. The prebuild system went into service under the names Pacific Gas Transmission and Northern Border Pipeline. Subsequently, an affiliate of TransCanada Pipeline acquired Pacific Gas Transmission and 50% of Northern Border. Northwest was acquired by the Williams Companies . As a result, Northwest was no longer willing to pursue the full project to Prudhoe Bay.

Wikipedia also has an article on Alaska Gas Pipeline. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Articles and resources


  1. Alaska Gas Pipeline, Wikipedia, accessed September 2017
  2. Palin picks Canadian company for gas line Weley Loy, The Anchorage Daily News, 4 January 2008
  3. The Alaska Pipeline Project Begins Its Open Season TransCanada Corporation, Accessed 20 November 2017
  4. It's on: Exxon and TransCanada announce pipeline partnership (Updated) Alaska Politics Blog, Archived at, 10 August 2009
  5. Alaska natural gas pipeline project history, 8 September 2015
  6. 15 U.S. Code § 717 - Regulation of natural gas companies, Accessed via the Legal Information Institute, Accessed 20 November 2017
  7. 15 U.S. Code § 719 - Congressional findings, Accessed via the Legal Information Institute, Accessed 20 November 2017

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources


External articles

  1. Alaska gas pipeline Wikipedia, accessed 20 November 2017).