Officials Wary of Plan for Gas Liquefaction Plant in Houston

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska Native Corp. from north of Anchorage teamed up with energy consultants in an attempt to bring a gas liquefaction plant to Houston, Alaska, but the plan has been met with little interest from officials.

Knikatnu Inc. is in talks with individuals from the area and consultants from global energy giant Siemens to make the plant a reality, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The Interior Gas Utility and Alaska’s economic development authority, however, have heard the proposal and are skeptical.

The plan is to liquefy natural gas in Houston and ship it to the Interior by way of the Alaska Railroad.

Proponents say it’s a safer, economically viable means of transporting natural gas to Fairbanks. But officials disagree and said they have a better plan in place.

“They said they had a better concept of bringing energy to the Interior and I don’t think that could be further from the truth,” said Gene Therriault, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority’s energy project team lead.

The plan officials are favoring includes a $60 million deal that would have the economic development authority sell the Pentex energy company to the gas utility.

The borough-owned gas utility would acquire a Titan gas liquefaction plant, a truck hauling operation and the Fairbanks Natural Gas company. And once acquired, the gas utility would build a second Titan liquefaction plant at the same site in south central Alaska.

The team in Houston believes their proposal is a better option than building the second Titan plant.

Gas utility manager Jomo Stewart said his team would take a serious look at the Houston plan if there was “a better mouse trap.” Stewart said he hasn’t seen a detailed financial analysis to show that Houston is proposing a better option.

Roger Purcell, a former Houston mayor and proponent of a liquefied natural gas plant, contests that the Houston team has been honest with the gas utility and development authority.

He said the detailed numbers and spreadsheets could be made available if the gas utility decides to move forward with the Houston proposal.

If the Houston team cannot get funding from the development authority, Purcell said other entities are interested in investing in a Houston gas liquefaction plant.

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