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Alaska governor seeks 'alignment' from oil companies on exporting gas to Asia

A veritable "Who's who" of the Alaska political establishment was on hand Thursday at Anchorage's Dena'ina Center to welcome chieftains of the world's oil corporations for a "reception" with Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell.

The governor's office claims Parnell himself was invited by Exxon Mobil Corp. chief executive Rex Tillerson, ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva, and BP chief Bob Dudley to the reception.

It's a rare occasion when the chief executives of three of the world's largest oil multinationals come together to discuss a project. An Exxon Mobil spokesperson said Thursday he couldn't recall, immediately, when the three chiefs had last been in Alaska together, if ever.

A press release dispatched after the reception, by Gov. Parnell's office, confirmed that the oil companies said they hoped to "align" on a project to market the state's gas reserves.

"I appreciate the willingness of the chief executives to come to Alaska to discuss the important topic of commercializing North Slope gas," Gov. Parnell said. "For a gas project to advance, all three companies need to be aligned behind it. This meeting is an important step, but much work remains."

After the luncheon, BP's Dudley congratulated Parnell and his "real purpose" in recent months trying to bring the majors together in support of an in-state pipeline that gets liquefied natural gas to Asian markets.

Dudley said there is potential for alignment between BP, Conoco and Exxon under the state-subsidized Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. Currently Exxon Mobil and TransCanada are working under that framework to study a pipeline from the North Slope through Canada to Lower 48 markets.

If the companies can find alignment, they need to study the idea of sending Alaska gas to Asian markets. With the boom in shale-extracted gas in the Lower 48, that idea has "real potential" to become reality, despite decades of failed attempts by the state and oil companies to build an instate gas pipeline.

Contact Eric Christopher Adams at eric(at)alaskadispatch.com and Alex DeMarban at alex(at)alaskadispatch.com

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