Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A liquefied natural gas project in Alaska could be operating by 2024 because of the quick pace of meeting regulatory requirements, the developer said.
An LNG project in the design phase in Alaska would connect a natural gas reservoir in Prudhoe Bay through 800 miles of pipe to a liquefaction plant on the southcentral Alaskan coast.
The Alaska Gasline Development Corp., the project's developer, said it submitted its responses to the 801 questions posed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in quick order. The developer said questions ranged from the impact on fish to the impact on the aboriginal communities in Alaska.
Keith Meyer, the president of the development company, said the pace of turnaround to FERC put the project one step closer to construction. The response to FERC, on top of some commercial agreements, "is a clear signal to the markets that Alaska LNG is on track to deliver energy stability at competitive prices by 2024 or 2025," he said in a statement.
AGDC in December signed a letter of intent with Tokyo Gas Co. on the possible sale and purchase of liquefied natural gas from the Alaskan company's portfolio. The Japanese handshake was the second Asian nod for Alaskan LNG in less than a month. China Petrochemical Corp., known informally as Sinopec, agreed in November to advance discussions on the LNG potential in Alaska. That agreement was signed in the presence of U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Asian economies, Japan's in particular, have a growing appetite for LNG. Analysis published in late December by Fitch Ratings said that, globally, securing long-term contracts for any of the major LNG players will be challenging as the field gets more crowded, however.
Bankers in China, the world's second-largest economy, have provided funding for Russian LNG efforts, but there's no guarantee Beijing will continue to help. Fitch noted that China is considering LNG projects in Alaska, a gas pipeline from Central Asia, a second LNG effort in the Russian Arctic, as well as Gazprom's Power of Siberia gas pipeline "and it may not necessarily get involved in all these projects simultaneously."
The Alaskan developer said it expects federal regulators to now start completing analysis necessary to publish the environmental impact statements that could facilitate the project's implementation.