Ex-ARCO exec says gas hub would keep Alaska's options open

PHOTO/Rob Stapleton/AJOC
oilgas.jpg A former top Atlantic Richfield Co. executive is promoting the creation of a natural gas trading hub for Alaska gas in Fairbanks or Delta Junction. Ken Thompson, former ARCO executive vice president and ARCO Alaska president, shared his vision for establishing a competitive gas trading hub for Alaska North Slope gas about 541 miles south of Prudhoe Bay on Jan. 24 with a Commonwealth North study group in Anchorage.

Alaska has 35 trillion cubic feet of known gas reserves on the North Slope and an estimated 65 trillion cubic feet yet to be discovered. Proposals currently being debated include shipping the gas to the Midwest via at least two different routes through Canada; shipping the gas to tidewater and converting it to liquefied natural gas for shipment in tankers to Asia and other markets; and converting the gas to liquids and shipping it south via the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Thompson, who recently returned home to Alaska after establishing a similar gas trading hub in Thailand, said he believes such a facility would enable Alaska and investors to take advantage of all the options as well as provide gas for in-state demand for power generation, petrochemicals and other manufacturing.

A trading hub also would help Alaska reduce the risk of picking one of the different gas projects and then watching the bottom fall out of that project as natural gas prices plummeted in the prospective market, said Thompson, who now heads his own consulting firm, Pacific Rim Leadership Development.

All of the proposals for marketing Alaska gas have significant disadvantages, but a trading hub would enable gas developers to "plug in" and purchase Alaska gas for their respective project when the timing is right to be competitive, Thompson said. The pipeline to the hub and the hub itself would be owned by the state, Alaska gas producers, other investors or some combination of these entities, he added.

02/03/2001 - 8:00pm