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3/15/2019
Economic analysis on pipeline project expected

By BECKY BOHRER
Associated Press

JUNEAU — An analysis on whether a major liquefied natural gas project is economically viable is expected to be complete within the next two months, a top adviser to Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Thursday.

Brett Huber said Dunleavy's position has been that the project has to make sense for the state and be judged on the economics. Huber is with the Republican governor at an energy conference in Texas.

During a call with reporters Thursday, Dunleavy said one reason for attending the conference was to gauge investor interest in the project, which he said was lacking.

Alaska for years has pursued a gas project, seeing it as a way to help shore up state revenues, create jobs and provide in-state energy.

Dunleavy's predecessor, Gov. Bill Walker, championed the latest version of the project, which courted Chinese partners and pursued the Asian market.

Larry Persily, a former federal coordinator of Alaska gas pipeline projects, in an interview said that Walker was "very sincere in his belief that this is essential to Alaska's future and that we need to keep trying harder." But he said the market has changed.

"Economically, I don't know anyone in the industry who thinks the thing is viable at the moment. Not just economically," Persily said. "We don't have investors or partners. We don't really have firm gas sale contracts for the life of the project."

He said it's good that an analysis is being done and sees value in the project at least completing the environmental review it is undergoing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.