President Donald Trump racked up an economic win while in China, presiding over an agreement to build what’s being called the largest American energy export project ever.
Alaska and China signed a joint agreement to build a massive export project that’s designed to bring North Slope natural gas south to be liquefied and then shipped abroad. The project is estimated to cost $43 billion and could create 12,000 construction jobs.
The state of Alaska signed the deal in the presence of Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said the deal would promote Trump’s energy dominance agenda and reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China.
“This is an agreement that will provide Alaska with an economic boom comparable to the development of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in the 1970s,” Walker said in a statement.
It’s a big win for Trump’s visit to China. Trump railed against the trade deficit between the two powers, blaming previous U.S. administrations for allowing China to take advantage of them.
“After all,” Trump said in a speech to Chinese officials on Wednesday, “who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country to the benefit of its citizens?”
“We have to fix this because it just doesn’t work for our great American companies and it doesn’t work for our great American workers. It is just not sustainable,” Trump said.
Keith Meyer, president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, said completing the gas project would generate as much as $10 billion in revenue every year feeding Asia’s insatiable appetite for natural gas. Alaska would net about $250 million of production revenues.
There’s more details to iron out before the deal is finalized, but Walker said backing from the world’s largest buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a positive step forward for the state.
“Having the largest LNG buyer in the world participating in this project means the Alaska LNG project has favorable market engagement at the highest level,” Walker said. “This project will finally allow Alaska to reach its full potential as a state. As we move from having one of the highest unemployment rates in the country to the lowest, we will build a stronger Alaska.”
Chinese and Alaskan officials began discussing a joint LNG venture in May after Xinping stopped in the state in April. Walker wants the deal finalized by the end of 2018 and to have the project up and running by 2025.
Sinopec would purchase most of the project’s LNG, with about a quarter of it left for export to Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and other Asian markets.
Alaska officials have been working for years to find financing for the $43 billion pipeline project. Alaska signed a deal with the Korea Gas Corp. in June to develop LNG export capacity.
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