Boss of proposed gas pipeline project is highest-paid state executive


February 21, 2024

The head of the state corporation in charge of a long-dreamed Alaska North Slope natural gas pipeline is once again Alaska’s top-paid public executive.

Frank Richards, president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., received $479,588 in compensation during 2023, according to the state’s annual executive compensation report, released in January.

The state took over development of the proposed gas pipeline in 2016 when North Slope producers walked away from the venture, saying it was not economically viable. Richards was hired as president in 2020.

Since taking over the project, the state has spent several hundred million dollars to finish permitting work as it continues to search for partners, investors and customers. The state contends buyers in Asia are the most likely customers for Alaska gas that would be liquefying and shipped across the ocean aboard tankers. But so far, no customers have signed on.

The project is estimated to cost far in excess of $40 billion.

The numbers in the state compensation report includes salary as well as things like cashed-out leave, moving expenses and travel costs. Richards has been Alaska’s top-paid executive since 2021.

The annual compensation report includes only executives, not all public employees, but the gas line boss has traditionally topped the list among all employees as well.

The state’s second-highest-paid executive in 2023 was University of Alaska President Pat Pitney, according to the report. She was compensated $403,848.

Pitney was followed by Alaska Railroad President and CEO Bill O’Leary, at $382,616; Alaska Housing Finance Corp. Executive Director Bryan Butcher, $356,387; and Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. Executive Director Deven Mitchell, $350,134.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy received $144,536 in compensation during 2023, the report said. Under a plan adopted last year by a state commission appointed by Dunleavy, the governor’s salary will rise to about $176,000, and the salaries of state commissioners will be about $168,000.

According to the latest available data, Alaska’s average annual wage is $68,568.

The Alaska Beacon is an independent, donor-funded news organization.


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