Several Democratic legislators on Thursday called on the federal government to require Conoco Phillips to take care of the gas needs of Southcentral Alaska before it is authorized to ship more Cook Inlet gas to Japan.
"You can't always rely on companies like Conoco and BP to do the right thing on their own, and that's where we come in," Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, said at a news conference in Anchorage. "When companies aren't willing to serve the public's interests, when their shareholders' interests diverge from ours, we have to step in and made sure we protect the public -- in this case, to make sure the public has a supply of natural gas in the winter."
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, co-chair of the Senate Resources Committee, called the news conference to announce that he and six other legislators were intervening in Conoco Phillips' bid to extend its federal export license to 2013. It expires in March. They want the license to give priority to Southcentral Alaska supplies.
Wielechowski said that Enstar Natural Gas Co., the primary supplier of gas for residences and businesses in Southcentral, will begin to face a shortfall in supply next year -- about a billion cubic feet in 2011 and 2012 out of a total demand of just more than 30 billion cubic feet, based on winter heating projections. The shortfall jumps to about 12 billion cubic feet -- roughly a third of demand -- in 2013 and beyond, he said.
The other main user of gas, Chugach Electric Association, has adequate supplies under contract for the next few years, Wielechowski said.
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