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A study commissioned by the state of Alaska that was released last week suggested that a direct investment by the state in a long-sought liquefied natural gas pipeline project might improve the project's prospects. The $424,000 study, conducted by a team that included New Hampshire-based oil consultant Daniel Johnston & Co. Inc., found that state investment — in the range of $9 billion to 13.5 billion — could "align" the state's interests with those of oil producers Exxon Mobil, BP and ConocoPhillips and pipeline company TransCanada Corp., reducing their project costs. But the study also found that investment in the project, which includes an 800-mile large-diameter pipeline from the North Slope to South-central Alaska and a plant to prepare the gas for shipment to markets in Asia, would potentially open the state up to "additional risks." Consequently, some lawmakers are cautiously optimistic about the idea. "I want to see a real ownership interest," said Rep. Beth Kerttula (D) the House minority leader. "I want to see the state at the table. I want to see the state getting the information that's fundamental to being sure that the state gets its rightful return. I also want to be sure that we have an absolute say in the decision-making." A former state oil and gas lawyer, Kerttula added that she didn't want to see the state "bankroll multinational companies that don't need bankrolling" but that the state's lack of an ownership stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline, completed in 1977, has placed it at a disadvantage in dealings on that project. "The state always ended up on the short end of the stick under thousands of boxes of documents," she said. (ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, STATE NET)
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