As the room filled to capacity, attendees willingly stood to hear updates about the proposed pipeline project to transport North Slope natural gas to a liquefied natural gas plant in Nikiski.
About 90 area residents came to the former Nikiski Senior Center on Island Lake Road Monday for the Nikiski Community Council meeting — one of the largest crowds the group has seen.
The meeting began with a presentation about the Alaska LNG Project by Michael Nelson, Lisa Gray and Mark Jennings of Paragon Partners. However, the group left some questions unanswered and Nelson said he was not authorized to answer questions from the media.
Gray said it’s early in the project, so representatives don’t have all the answers. She said meetings help continue open discussions about the LNG facility proposed to be built in Nikiski.
“You guys can help us do the right planning and spend the money the right way so that we can be better neighbors here and so that you guys can help us push the project forward,” Gray said.
Some Nikiski area residents have been contacted about possible land purchases for the liquefied natural gas project. Developers of the project have selected Nikiski as the lead site for the LNG plant and marine export terminal. Gas would be moved to the plant from the North Slope via an 800-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline.
Project planners are looking to purchase 600-800 acres in Nikiski for the LNG facility.
The representatives said they have contacted the majority of landowners for parcels they are interested in, but are having difficulty tracking down a few remaining individuals.
Alaska LNG has contacted landowner Ted Riddall who owns property near Tesoro Road.
“What if I don’t want to sell?” Riddall said. “Without the land you don’t have a project.”
Nelson said Alaska LNG is trying to work with landowners who are willing to sell. However, he said while Nikiski is the top choice, Alaska LNG does have other locations it can consider for the plant.
Riddall said he wanted to have financial advisors with him when meeting with project representatives to discuss a sale, but Alaska LNG wouldn’t allow it.
“If I’m going to sell my land and my home that I built, I’m going to have some financial people sitting with me to help me make that decision so I don’t make some rash decision,” Riddall said. “That seems logical.”
Nelson said he wanted to follow up with Riddall after the meeting to further discuss the situation.
Wayne Floyd said his property, where he and his wife Patti Floyd are developing a peony farm, will likely border the proposed facility. He said Alaska LNG representatives have approached his neighbors across the road, but not him. He said that’s a “real good indication” where the fence for the LNG facility will be.
“Is (Alaska LNG) … going to address any kind of impact upon the quality of life that you’re going to destroy by putting a plant in my backyard?” he said.
Gray said the fence line for the LNG facility is unknown right now. Nelson said crews will try to create a buffer zone to minimize impact to surrounding landowners.
Nelson said the producers involved — BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and TransCanada — are continuing preliminary front end engineering and design as well as land access and acquisition for the project.
“We continue with land access and acquisition efforts,” Nelson said. “We started talking to landowners and that continues today.”
He said project representatives have also been talking with landowners to gain access for studies this summer and future summers to consider environmental, engineering, social and other potential aspects.
Along with ongoing work, the project is moving toward the pre-filing process with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permitting.
“It’s a huge undertaking, extensive process that addresses almost every aspect of this project,” Nelson said.
Field studies are planned for this summer focusing on the pipeline route south of Livengood and at the proposed LNG plant sight in Nikiski.
He said crews will mostly be working on geotechnical and geophysical aspects of onshore portions of the project.
Nearly 10,000 acres of cultural resources have been identified that Alaska LNG will have to consider including fisheries, hydrology, wetlands and vegetation, contaminated sites and lakes. Crews also will conduct ambient air monitoring and ambient noise surveys.
The project has identified potential corridors for the project to enter Cook Inlet. Nelson said the route options will be studied and at this point there is no preferred route through the inlet.
Nelson said crews have done some metocean studies — analyzing wind, waves coastlines and other aspects. Those studies began in the fall and monitors were placed in the inlet. Throughout the winter ice movement was watched using the devices.
“We’ll do the studies,” Nelson said. “Things will change as we do the studies — hopefully not dramatically, but we do the studies to identify potential issues.”
Kaylee Osowski is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.