The Wall Street Journal reported that ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), BP plc (LSE:BP) and TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) have agreed to merge two competing natural gas pipeline projects into a single pipeline that will export natural gas from Alaska’s North Slope to Asia.

As quoted in the market news:

The export project may not be ready for a decade or more given the scale of construction and the many technical, legal, political and financial barriers; the companies say the costs could run from $45 billion to more than $65 billion. But it would let the companies move billions of dollars in natural gas that is now stranded on the North Slope and help support many decades more of oil and natural-gas development in the U.S. Arctic.

The announcement follows a March settlement between the state of Alaska and the companies over a long-running dispute over leases at the Point Thomson field, located east of the massive Prudhoe Bay field. The companies were allowed to keep their large leases in exchange for promises to begin first oil production from Point Thomson by 2016 and to combine their competing projects.

The new project will include natural-gas processing facilities and a natural-gas export terminal somewhere along the south central Alaskan coast.

Click here to read the full report from The Wall Street Journal.