BP, Phillips Petroleum Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. will collaborate on a $75-million program of preliminary work to develop a natural gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope to Canada and the lower 48 states. Under the plan, announced Dec. 6, the three major North Slope producers plan to equally share the costs and administration of the project, but may consider participation by other companies in the future.

It will take about a year to determine the best route, research permits and design the pipeline before applications can be filed with U.S. and Canadian regulatory agencies, officials say. The pipeline could generate as many as 100 full-time jobs, with significant contract support, they add. Project headquarters will be in Anchorage, with other potential work locations in Canada and the United States.