ALASKA LNG: LEAST COMPETITIVE
WSJ wrote, Exxon Mobil Corp. has decided not to invest in the next stage of a proposed natural gas export terminal in Alaska and said it would work with its partners to sell its interest in the project to the state government.
The company's decision comes amid a global glut of natural gas that has depressed prices and follows the release of a Wood McKenzie report earlier this week concluding the Alaskan project "is one of the least competitive" of proposed liquefied natural gas plants worldwide.
A spokesman for Exxon said Friday that the company will no longer invest in the proposal, which is "transitioning to a state project." Exxon owns about one-third of the project, according to the state.
Last November, the Alaskan government paid $65 million for TransCanada Corp.'s 25% stake in the project, known as Alaska LNG, which is expected to cost between $45 billion and $65 billion. It has yet to be approved for construction and wouldn't start commercial shipments before 2023, according to filings by its corporate backers. The other backers, BP PLC and ConocoPhillips, each hold roughly 20% stakes and have signaled that they, too, could pull out.
Gov. Bill Walker has sought to advance the long-delayed project by taking a direct stake through the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. But Exxon and its corporate partners balked at the government's efforts to start the next stage of the project—an engineering and design study estimated to cost more than $1 billion—in 2017 without a royalty and tax agreement.
An Exxon executive on Thursday told the Alaskan legislature's joint resources committee that the company would pull out of the project as an investor due in part to a "misalignment" between the government and its partners, BP and ConocoPhillips.
Bill McMahon, a senior commercial adviser on the project, testified that Exxon would no longer participate in the proposed LNG plant but is open to supplying gas from the North Slope if the state proceeds on its own.
Those comments were echoed by executives at BP and ConocoPhillips in their testimony before the committee.
"ConocoPhillips is unlikely at this point to agree to directly participate in the FEED for the project in 2017 due to the significant economic headwinds and other challenges," said Darren Meznarich, the company's project integration manager for Alaska LNG.
Gov. Walker said in a statement on Thursday that he remains committed to "exploring some of the alternate project structures currently being investigated" that could allow the Alaska LNG to proceed with construction.
Alaska LNG would transport natural gas from the North Slope fields, then liquefy the fuel at the facility on Cook Inlet for shipment to markets in Asia. But the proposal would be uneconomic at current LNG prices or even crude oil prices under $70 a barrel, according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie's report, which was commissioned by Exxon, BP and the state's AGDC.
"The Alaska LNG project is one of the least competitive on a cost of supply basis compared with other" proposed LNG export terminals, Wood Mackenzie said.
Alaska LNG aims to produce as much as 20 million tons of LNG a year, dwarfing the 1.2 million-ton capacity of Alaska's only operating LNG facility, which was built in 1969 and is operated by ConocoPhillips.
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