The million dollar question in Kenai – literally – is: who owns the empty space under the ground? The City Council will tonight consider appropriating further funds for a lawsuit about underground storage.
Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska (CINGSA) has been storing gas in pore space in the City of Kenai, and leasing the area from the State and CIRI.
City Attorney Scott Bloom explained…
Bloom: “The issue at the heart of this is whether or not the City of Kenai, who is primarily a surface rights owner, or CIRI or the State of Alaska, who own the mineral rights, should be compensated by CINGSA, who is storing gas in the pore space.”
Bloom said all parties have filed motions for summary judgment at the Superior Court requesting a ruling on the legal issues without a trial, as the parties all generally agree on the facts at issue. After one more round of briefing, and oral argument, the judge will decide who really owns the empty space below the ground.
Bloom: “It’s a little more complicated than that in the sense that the City’s not the only surface estate owner in the area, and there are some smaller parcels to which the City also has the mineral estate, but primarily the City is a surface estate owner.”
Bloom said they’re hoping for a decision by next spring at the latest.