By Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2020

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A new private venture headed by a former Alaska governor will attempt to privatize the state’s corporation that would bring natural gas to market from the North Slope.

Former independent Gov. Bill Walker will lead Alaska Gasline & LNG LLC with Keith Meyer, the former head of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported Monday.

Walker spent decades working to launch the project and on Monday repeated his emphasis on the venture’s opportunity to deliver jobs, money and cheap energy to the state.

Meyer led the gas line corporation during Walker’s administration until he was ousted after the election of Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Meyer approached the state corporation in January with a proposal to take over the project with private backers, although at the time he declined to disclose the company backing him.

Walker and Meyer have partnered with Fairbanks entrepreneur Bernie Karl and the Laborers Local 341 union as the only current investors in the project.

“While there’s four now, we think there will be 400 or 4,000 because I think Alaskans are ready for this project to happen,” Walker said.

Leaders of the gas line corporation have said they want to transition the project from state control to private hands by the end of the year.

“Any party with the appropriate resources and qualifications to help advance the Alaska LNG project is welcome to participate in the strategic path for Alaska LNG that the AGDC board defined this past spring,” the corporation said in a statement.

Meyer and Walker noted the success of a years-long federal permitting process and said the next step is bringing the project to potential investors.

The venture wants to build the project by 2028, Meyer said. The corporation estimates construction will cost about $38.7 billion.

Alaska has struggled to reach the best market conditions to realize the gas project, while demand dropped and prices fell in 2020 partially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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