State issues new report detailing hydrocarbon and geothermal resources in rural areas

A new report detailing fossil fuel and geothermal potential in unexplored areas of Alaska was released Sept. 7 by the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.

The 144-page study, four years in development, is intended primarily to aid small rural communities in looking for more affordable, local sources of energy, state natural resources commissioner Dan Sullivan said.

“We know that the high cost of energy is the primary concern and challenge for many communities. Our goal is to assist them in making energy development decisions,” Sullivan said.

It is designed to be a companion to a similar inventory of renewable resource potential including wind, biomass and small hydro, developed by the Alaska Energy Authority four years ago.

Sara Fisher-Goad, executive director of the Alaska Energy Authority, said the new report supplements and extends her agency’s Renewable Energy Atlas.

“It will be useful in our regional energy planning efforts,” underway by the AEA, she said.

Bob Swenson, the state geologist and director of the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, said he was surprised, once the information was compiled, at the extent and quality of the fossil fuel resources outside the better-known North Slope and Cook Inlet basins.

In a Sept. 7 briefing, Swenson said that he was struck by the extent and quality of coal formations in different parts of the state which also indicate the potential for biogenic natural gas and coal-bed methane, which could be sources of energy for local communities.

A new report detailing fossil fuel and geothermal potential in unexplored areas of Alaska was released Friday by the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.

Alaska has many unexplored sedimentary basins particularly in Interior and western Alaska. Swenson said he was struck, however, by the extent and quality of coal formations which also indicate the potential for biogenic natural gas and coal-bed methane, which could be sources of energy for local communities.

“We were also surprised at the extent of quality geothermal resources, some with extreme high temperatures, mainly on the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Islands,” Swenson said.

Alaska has had the most aggressive renewable resource funding program of any U.S. state for several years now, with about $200 million invested to date in grants to mostly small rural projects, but Fisher-Goad said the program can also be used for certain small-scale fossil fuel projects such as natural gas.

Updated: 
11/11/2016 - 12:03pm