- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

KENAI, Alaska (AP) - A company looking to bring a football field-sized airship to Alaska is planning to use it to transport liquefied natural gas to the state’s rural areas.

PRL Logistics first announced plans to base an airship at its facility along the Kenai River last year. Founder and CEO of the Anchorage-based transportation and contracting company Ron Hyde updated the Kenai City Council on the project last week, The Peninsula Clarion reported (https://bit.ly/2qe8dSF).

The egg-shaped aircraft is under construction in California and is expected to be ready for use in 2019.

Hyde said his company has been working with ExxonMobil to add modular liquefied natural gas tanks on the airship that could be used to deliver North Slope gas to Alaska’s isolated communities.

The airship can land on snow, ice, gravel and water and has space for 47,000 pounds of cargo. It generates lift from its aerodynamic shape and a helium-filled envelope. The aircraft can take off and land vertically, allowing it to deliver cargo in places without runways.

The goal of the Alaska project is to cut costs for construction projects in remote areas and make economic opportunities more accessible to smaller companies that may not have the money to build airstrips, ports and temporary roads to transport materials.

Hyde said pulling off small projects in Alaska can be “very expensive.”

“If the cost of being able to do remote construction and responsible resource development can be reduced through reducing the logistics cost, some projects that might be close to going may actually go,” he said.

PRL Logistics also plans to build a $10 million hangar in Kenai to house the airship and possibly move its accounting, procurement and technical teams from Anchorage to Kenai.

“With the amount of work we’re able to execute down here, it makes sense to have our corporate capabilities located here as well,” Hyde said.

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Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, https://www.peninsulaclarion.com

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