Love it or hate it, the Jones Act is the single most important piece of US maritime legislation to date. It provides many Alaskan fishermen with jobs on the water, delivers significant employment benefits to injured mariners, and protects Alaskan seaman from the vicissitudes of foreign flagged jurisdictions by limiting US trade to US owned and operated vessels. All in, the Jones Act generates over $100 billion in US revenue and provides over five hundred thousand jobs to Americans annually. However, the Jones Act is not without its critics, and many of the larger commercial maritime entities are wondering what future the Jones Act will have if Alaska needs to ship Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to US ports, rather than those exclusively in Asia. This article will examine the current LNG tanker market, US shipping laws, and the impact each will have on Alaska’s LNG trade.
It was a typical winter day in February 2013 on Alaska’s North Slope when Parker Drilling’s Rig No. 272 started its inaugural journey from the Crazy Horse Pad in Deadhorse to its first drilling site.