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Alaskan North Slope natural gas will soon have a direct route to markets in the Lower 48, thanks to a deal signed with Calgary, Alberta-based TransCanada Pipelines;

Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday signed a bill giving the state authority to award TransCanada Corp a license to build and operate a multibillion-dollar pipeline to ship natural gas from the North Slope.

The line, which the company estimates will cost $26 billion to build, would ship about 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day starting in 2018, according to TransCanada's plan.

Two big oil producers, BP and ConocoPhillips, are pushing a competing natural gas pipeline plan. But the license to TransCanada would ensure that the state would not negotiate with any other developer.

An overview of the project is available here.

But it's not without controversy;

Supporters of the competing Alaska natural gas pipeline project, called Denali, say it has better financial backing than TransCanada's project. But TransCanada backers consider it crucial to ensure that any new pipeline is owned and operated independently of the resource producers so there is ready access to new shippers.

It's interesting to note that TransCanada Corporation, which controls TransCanada Pipelines, connects "virtually all" natural gas-producing basins in North America with through its 36,500 mile pipeline network.  It's a big operation.

TransCanada also owns - or has interest in - roughly 7,700 megawatts of electricity production, some natural-gas based, with the largest share of their plants being in Alberta.  Including plants owned by TransCanada Corp., roughly 40% of power produced in Alberta is with natural gas;  and a map showing the routing of the new Alaska pipeline, and how it will link up with natural gas-burning power plants in Alberta, paints an interesting picture.

So if natural gas from Alaska is burned in Albertan power plants to produce electricity, which is then in turn transmitted across the border into Montana using the newly-approved power link (and other links already operating) - Do the greenhouse gas emissions of Albertan power plants really happen for the American consumers of the power they produce?

Originally posted to Arcy on Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 09:09 AM PDT.

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