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USGS: Cook Inlet Has More Gas Than Previously Thought

The amount of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas resources in Alaska's Cook Inlet region is "significantly more" than what was thought 16 years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The new USGS estimate, which includes conventional and unconventional resources, is 19 Tcf of natural gas, about 600 million bbl of oil and 46 million bbl of natural gas liquids. The gas estimates are significantly more than the last USGS assessment of southern Alaska in 1995, in which a mean of 2.14 Tcf of gas was estimated, the agency said.

The increase in the undiscovered resource is attributed to new geologic information and data. "For the first time USGS has evaluated unconventional (or continuous) as well as conventional petroleum resources in the Cook Inlet region of Alaska," said Brenda Pierce, USGS energy resources program coordinator.

USGS said the assessment "is intended to provide an updated, scientifically based estimate of petroleum potential at a time of increased public concern about possible shortages of natural gas supplies in Anchorage and nearby communities where natural gas produced from the Cook Inlet region is the principal source of energy for heating and electric power generation."

Utilities in the region are planning to seek authority to develop a liquefied natural gas import terminal to meet their gas supply needs as they are predicting a potential shortfall to occur as early as 2014 (see Daily GPI, June 28).

Since oil and gas production began in the Cook Inlet region in 1958, more than 1.3 billion bbl of oil and 7.8 Tcf of gas have been produced, according to the USGS.

Included in the assessment are coalbed methane and tight gas formations, as well as resources beneath both onshore and offshore areas of the Cook Inlet region, excluding the federal offshore and beneath areas where accessibility may be limited by policy and regulations.

The assessment of undiscovered gas resources ranges from 4.976 to 39.737 Tcf (95% and 5% probability, respectively. About 72% is estimated to be found in conventional accumulations, 25% in coalbed accumulations, and 3% in tight accumulations.

The assessment of undiscovered oil resources ranges from 108 to 1,359 million bbl of oil (95% and 5% probability, respectively). These resources are all conventional as there are no unconventional oil resources assessed in the region.

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