JUNEAU -- Exxon Mobil's chairman is praising Alaska for abandoning its attempt to get an independent gas pipeline built and instead support a plan in which the major oil company would own a share. At the same time, Alaska officials have expressed a willingness to lower taxes or provide other incentives to make such a project more profitable for Exxon and other oil companies.
"Now the state has kind of woken up to the fact that they're not the only game in town and they're seeing all these projects in Canada being talked about and they're seeing exports out of the Gulf Coast being talked about and suddenly realized the world may not care whether Alaska gas ever gets developed," said Rex Tillerson, Exxon's chairman and chief executive officer, at the company's annual conference with industry analysts, in a transcript provided by SeekingAlpha.com.
Tillerson told the analysts in a discussion that began about Alaska that an abundance of resources are coming on the market worldwide. That has strengthened the negotiating position of companies like his and weakened that of resource owners.
Alaska has spent years attempting to get Exxon to develop its huge Point Thomson gas field on Prudhoe Bay. Gov. Parnell dropped the state's effort to take back the Point Thomson leases in exchange for Exxon beginning work on producing there.
Gov. Parnell has also proposed abandoning attempts by former Gov. Sarah Palin to develop an independently owned pipeline in favor of one majority-owned by Exxon and the state's other big producers, BP and ConocoPhillips. Exxon had opposed the earlier pipeline plan, but supports Parnell's current effort.
Parnell's Department of Natural Resources commissioner on Wednesday told legislators that more concessions to the companies, presumably on taxes, would be needed to get an LNG project built.
"If we as Alaskans want to see our resources produced and sold and realize all of the benefits that come with it, there are certain things we have to consider doing," Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash said.
Contact Pat Forgey at pat(at)alaskadispatch.com