Canadian Gas Pipeline Challenges Alaska Route (XOM, COP, RDS, TRP)

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The Canadian government is reported to have offered financial support to the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline project. Imperial Oil, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), leads the project, which includes ConocoPhillips Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE:RDS.A-B), and TransCanada Corporation (NYSE:TRP) through TransCanada’s investment in the Aboriginal Pipeline Group.

The whole story of the Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline can’t besummarized easily. The proposal is an all-Canadian pipeline route tohaul gas from the north coast of Alaska and Canada to Alberta and on tothe US. The most recent cost estimate is about $12.7 billion and is twoyears old. Competing proposals route the pipeline through Alaska, thenon to Valdez or Alberta. TransCanada leads the proposal that starts inAlaska and goes on to Alberta.

The stakes are high because the gas deposits way up north are huge. Andif a way can be developed to extract methane hydrate deposits, thestakes are bigger than huge. Some estimates of methane hydrate (frozenunderwater gas bubbles along the continental shelf) deposits go as highas 1,500 trillion cubic feet.

Expect a response from Governor Palin any minute now.

Paul Ausick
January 20, 2009