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Alaska LNG developer says late-2019 EIS for project is fast enough to stay on schedule

The giant Alaska LNG project is facing an environmental review at the USFederal Energy Regulatory Commission that will stretch into the end of2019.

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FERC Monday released its review schedule for the $43 billion project,planning for a March 2019 draft environmental impact statement, followedby a December 9, 2019 final EIS. That would put the federal authorizationdeadline, set for other agencies weighing in, at March 8, 2020.

Despite the long review period, project developers were optimistic theschedule would keep the project on track.

"Achieving clarity on the permitting time line is another critical stepforward for the project," said Keith Meyer, president of the state-ownedAlaska Gasline Development Corp., in a statement. "A draft EIS in March2019, with availability of a final EIS in December 2019, will allow us tokeep Alaska's gas export project on track for a 2024/25 in-service date."

Dave Cruz, AGDC's chairman, added "construction projects are vital toAlaska's economy, and this newly released FERC time line fast-tracks thepath for what will be the largest infrastructure project in the country."

The review for the massive project, currently slated at 63 months frompre-filing to final review, is well beyond the time taken for other LNGprojects, said Jim Hughey of LawIQ. Of five LNG projects that havereceived a final EIS, he said the longest time frame was 43 months.

The project includes a 3.5-Bcf/d-capacity gas treatment plant located atPrudhoe Bay, an 800-mile pipeline to south-central Alaska with up to fiveofftakes for in-state use, and a natural gas liquefaction plant andexport facility in Nikiski with capacity to export up to 20 millionmt/year (2.56 Bcf/d gas equivalent).

FERC recently pressed the developers for more environmental studies and afurther look at alternatives.

In a February 15 letter to AGDC, FERC requested reconsideration of analternative site in upper Cook Inlet as well as Valdez, which is now theterminus of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. -- Maya Weber, maya.weber@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com