A consortium including Exxon MobilCorp., ConocoPhillips Co. and BP PLC said late Wednesday it is moving forward with plans to export natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope in a project that could cost as much as $65 billion. The long-awaited effort is expected to have a significant impact not just on Alaska and its economy, but also on U.S. construction and manufacturing companies that would supply steel and other materials for an 800-mile pipeline and the plant that would convert the gas into liquid for export on tankers.The Alaska project is the latest sign of the transformation of the U.S. from a heavy energy importer into a major producer and likely exporter. American companies have led the world in discovering how to coax gas and oil from shale rock formations from Ohio to Texas, sending U.S. natural-gas production up 28% between 2005 and 2011, according to U.S. government figures. The new supply of domestic energy rendered an earlier industry plan to move Alaskan gas via pipeline to the continental U.S. unnecessary, according to experts and the companies involved.
Roll on, energy revolution.No matter how you look at it, increased domestic production of natural gas is good: good for the economy, through exports and domestic consumption; good for the environment, because gas is cleaner than coal; and good for reducing our vulnerability to a volatile Middle East.