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Dudley's overtures could help support Alaska's liquified natural gas export project. Photo: Sefa Karacan / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

BP CEO Bob Dudley just visited Alaska to discuss with Gov. Bill Walker the producer’s potential involvement in a massive liquified natural gas export project there, Dudley told Axios in an exclusive interview this week.

Why it matters: BP’s consideration gives potential credence to the $43 billion proposed project, which coincided with President Trump visiting China in November and touting his administration’s backing of it. Many analysts doubt the proposal will actually come through, though, given a lack of details and firm commitments at the time of the announcement.

Driving the news: Dudley stopped in Washington this week on his way back to London from Alaska, where he met with Walker, who has been affiliated with both the Independent and Republican parties, and others to discuss BP taking part in the project. BP produces oil in the Prudhoe Bay region, whose natural gas resources could feed the proposed export terminal, Dudley said.

Quoted: “It’s a large resource, and the world is going to need natural gas, particularly Asia,” Dudley said in an interview over lunch Tuesday in BP's Washington office. “We’re exploring with the state ways to make that resource find a market.”

Flashback: The state of Alaska, alongside Trump, announced in November a proposed deal where China’s biggest state-owned oil company, Sinopec, one of its top banks and sovereign wealth fund would invest billions of dollars to develop a pipeline and export terminal to export U.S. liquified natural gas (LNG) to Asia.

Virtually all American LNG is exported from the U.S. Gulf Coast, and this project would make for a much shorter trip to Asia, a top export destination for American natural gas.

For the record: A spokesman for Walker said the governor is “engaging with stakeholders across Alaska” to help bring the project to fruition. “I had not met the governor before,” Dudley told me. “I was impressed.”

What else we’re hearing: In a separate interview, Charif Souki, considered a pioneer in the natural-gas exporting industry and founder of two companies in this space, expressed skepticism about the project. With a slight eye roll, Souki said: “it’s a very, very ambitious project.” Souki's company, Tellurian Inc., would be a likely competitor to the Alaskan export terminal.

Here's what else Souki, who decades earlier founded Cheniere Energy, said about the project in our December talk:

  • “It depends on a lot of moving parts. You have to source the gas, build the pipeline infrastructure and build the liquefaction facility. That’s three pieces controlled by three different groups of people.”
  • By the end of his comment, he sounded more optimistic: “It’s an attractive project.”

More from my interviews with Dudley and Souki

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

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