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Federal coordinator's office launches digital library of Alaska gasline dreams

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects (OFC) has announced that a new digital library of natural gas pipeline-related documents and information is ready for the public.

The library, "The Pipe Files" contains a wide variety of historical documents from various failed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline efforts, including project work, environmental reports, exploration details and economic and engineering analyses stretching as far back as the 1970s. The free searchable collection is intended to serve as a tool for the general public with all material existing in the public domain.

"We have started with about 500 documents and plan to add hundreds more as we build the collection,” said Larry Persily, head of the OFC. “We have invited federal and state agencies to help us add to The Pipe Files and expect it will grow much larger. We’re still refining the search features and invite users to send us their feedback.”

The collection's documents were provided in part by OFC; several U.S. federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Alaska Department of Revenue; the Consortium Library and the Alaska Resources Library and Information Services at University of Alaska-Anchorage, plus Canada's Northern Pipeline Agency. OFC contracted with UAA's Alaska Resource Library and information Services to build, design and digitize the collection.

OFC has struggled to remain busy after the Alaska-to-Canada gasline proposal apparently perished. Since that time, the four-person agency has picked up odd jobs not originally part of its mission, including running a costly news site and creating the new online database covering four decades of shattered pipeline dreams.

Despite the struggle, OFC's staff will be growing in the coming new year as it adds resources to the digital database of Alaska's dashed hopes. Local novelist Stan Jones will join former newsman Bill White in the federal Alaska gasline writing and researching ranks. Jones will begin working part-time on March 4, said Persily in an email.

Visit the online library, where you can find -- among many other things -- a document dated June 1, 1977, written by the state of Alaska to Atlantic Richfield and BP which includes the finding, "The completion of a large gas sales pipeline and plant to condition gas is estimated at approximately five years from start of oil production (at Prudhoe Bay Field)."