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Lawmakers Call on ConocoPhillips to Help Meet Alaskans’ Needs for Gas Before Exporting Alaska’s Gas Abroad

(Anchorage, July 8, 2010) — Seven Alaska lawmakers today called on ConocoPhillips to help ensure that local needs for gas are met before shipping more gas from Cook Inlet to foreign countries.

Senators Bill Wielechowski, Bettye Davis and Hollis French as well as Representatives Pete Petersen, Berta Gardner, Les Gara, and Chris Tuck called on Alaska’s largest oil and gas producer to do its part to ensure that families in Southcentral have the gas they need for home heating before exporting any more gas to the Far East.  More than 118,000 households in Southcentral Alaska—roughly half the state’s population—rely on Cook Inlet gas to heat their homes.

ConocoPhillips, along with Marathon Oil Company, recently applied for a federal permit to export up to 40 billion cubic feet of gas overseas from April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2013.  The U.S. Department of Energy will be accepting public comments on this request until August 2.

While the seven lawmakers support renewing the export license, they believe gas should not be sold overseas until the needs of Southcentral homes and businesses are fully met through approved contracts between gas producers and the local gas distribution company, Enstar.        

“This is a reasonable and common sense request,” said Senator Bill Wielechowski.  “Cook Inlet gas reserves are dwindling.  We need to make sure Alaskans’ needs for gas are met before we supply consumers in Tokyo or anywhere else.”

“As a small business owner, I know the value of having predictable and affordable energy costs,” said Representative Pete Petersen. “Assuring Alaska’s gas comes to Alaskans first will give our businesses the certainty they need to invest and grow.”

“The legislature took bold steps this year to boost Cook Inlet gas production. Now ConocoPhillips, which leases more than 9,000 acres of state land in the Inlet, needs to act to ensure that Anchorage residents can keep their homes warm in the next two years,” said Representative Chris Tuck.

The lawmakers noted that Enstar is short .9 billion cubic feet of gas in 2011 and 1.1 billion cubic feet in 2012.  Then in 2013, the shortage grows to 12 billion cubic feet, more than one third of the region’s needs.  Without more gas, Enstar could be forced to terminate service to some of its customers.

“Part of being a good corporate citizen is looking out for the needs of your neighbors,” Senator Hollis French added.  “Marathon Oil Company has stepped up to the plate.  It’s time for ConocoPhillips to do the same.”

“Alaskans own these resources, and to get maximum benefit from them, we need to make sure that whenever we can, we use them to meet local needs first,” Representative Berta Gardner said.  “Local demand is urgent, the gas is ours, and Conoco should make sure Alaskans have the chance to use it.”

Last year, ConocoPhillips reported profits of $1.54 billion from its Alaska operations, compared with a loss of $37 million from its operations in the rest of the United States.

“Clearly Alaska is a great place to do business,” Senator Bettye Davis added.  “We hope ConocoPhillips will take this opportunity to give back to Alaskans by ensuring that their needs for gas are fully met.”

The seven legislators also sent a letter to the Department of Energy (attached), stating their concerns, while expressing support for export of excess gas.

They urge other concerned Alaskans to join them and submit comments to the Department of Energy by the August 2 deadline.

“Now’s the time to stand up and be heard,” Representative Les Gara said.  “This is Alaska’s gas and should meet Alaskans’ needs first.”

Representative Gara offered an amendment during the recent legislative session to ensure Southcentral Alaska's natural gas needs would be met prior to exporting more gas, but the amendment fell short of the needed votes.

Comments should be sent to:

U.S. Department of Energy (FE-24)

Office of Oil and Gas Global Security and Supply

Office of Fossil Energy

Forrestal Building, Room 3E-042

1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20585 

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