The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. board of directors has promoted longtime Vice President Frank Richards to lead the agency.
The board unanimously approved Richards’ appointment to AGDC president, which is effective March 1, during a brief Friday morning meeting.
Richards will replace Interim AGCD President Joe Dubler, who announced his retirement Feb. 20. Dubler will remain with AGDC through May 2 to continue supporting the roughly $40 billion Alaska LNG Project that is the corporation’s primary effort through the transition, he wrote in an email to AGDC staff.
Dubler asked staff to congratulate Richards, who has been with AGDC for eight years.
“We’re in capable and familiar hands for the road ahead through the permitting process and steps beyond,” Dubler wrote.
The state-owned corporation is nearing the end of a roughly three-year permitting process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to secure the key construction license for the Alaska LNG Project.
A civil engineer by trade, Richards has long served as a senior vice president of program management at AGDC leading the design and permitting of both the Alaska LNG and the in-state Alaska Standalone Pipeline projects.
Richards thanked Dubler for his work and said he hopes the work AGDC is doing to optimize the project will ultimately help improve its economics and lead to construction.
“I look forward to the challenge ahead of us,” Richards told the board.
Richards will be paid $350,000 per year as president of AGDC, in line with Dubler’s salary, he told the Journal.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is scheduled to issue the final environmental impact statement for Alaska LNG in early March; a final ruling on the license is expected later this spring. Last summer, BP and ExxonMobil announced they would contribute $10 million each and provide technical assistance to help the state complete the commission process.
AGDC Board Chair Doug Smith echoed Dubler’s sentiment in a formal statement issued following the meeting.
“AGDC is fortunate to have someone of Frank’s caliber who is deeply familiar with Alaska LNG (and) ready to take the helm. The board thanks Joe for his service and leadership. Under Joe, Frank and the AGDC team we have made tremendous strides towards realizing Alaska’s natural gas potential, and I’m confident that progress will continue as Alaska LNG advances through the permitting process,” Smith said.
Richards will be the third leader of AGDC since the start of 2019. Dubler took over in January 2019 after Gov. Mike Dunleavy made sweeping changes to the AGDC board of directors. The board then quickly acted to fire then-President Keith Meyer, who championed former Gov. Bill Walker’s vision for the state to lead the Alaska LNG Project.
Since then, AGDC has ended its active marketing to potential Alaska LNG customers and cut 60 percent of its staff to focus on securing the FERC license. Under the Dunleavy administration the corporation has been directed to transfer or sell the project to a private entity for development once the construction once FERC approves the license.
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at email@example.com.