Things are heating up in Alaska as lawmakers continue trying to determine who should get the license to build a 1,700-mile gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Alberta Hub and then to markets in the Lower 48. In this corner, there is the TransCanada plan being backed by Gov. Sarah Palin. In the other corner, the Denali project which is a joint venture by BP Plc and ConocoPhillips. Both are chasing the dream of what could amount to one of the largest construction projects in North America in many, many years. The TransCanada project would require the state to hand over $500 million in seed money and give the Canadian company the exclusive right to go for the federal permits needed. The Denali project would not ask for the seed money. Denali President Bud Fackrell presented his case to lawmakers last week. He told the lawmakers that Denali is a separate pipeline company and asked the lawmakers to send their questions about natural gas production, royalties and taxes to BP and ConocoPhillips. State Rep. Mike Doogan says the 30-year-old trans-Alaskan pipeline should be cause for caution. During the hearing he reminded his fellow legislators of the cost overruns by the oil pipeline and reminded everyone that line was also producer constructed. BP and ConocoPhillips are two of the major North Slope leaseholders. Fackrell countered by saying that the two companies own more than 50,000 miles of pipeline around the world and both have major projects in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caspian Sea. Both companies did have a supporter in their corner: Sen. Bert Stedman said BP and ConocoPhillips would not risk the loss of credibility and the potential fallout from shareholders, the public as well as state and federal lawmakers by investing their time and money in a hoax or ruse. Stay tuned. More to come. The Alaskan legislators have until Aug. 2 to finish their special session. Rest assured, this story is far from over. –John A. Sullivan, News Editor, Oil and Gas Investor,,