Additional Energy Opportunities Due to Gas Hydrates in Alaska

Additional Energy Opportunities Due to Gas Hydrates in Alaska

April 30, 2019

On April 26th, the US Geological Survey (USGS), a division of the US Department of the Interior, published an article that noted the following:

“In the far north of Alaska, near the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field, an international research consortium has been studying the potential of an altogether different energy source. In late December of 2018, drilling operations confirmed the existence of two high-quality reservoirs that were fully saturated with a potential alternative fuel source: gas hydrate.”

What exactly are gas hydrates, and why should Americans care about them?  The USGS has a thorough explanation here:

Gas hydrate forms naturally when water combines with certain gases at low temperatures and moderate pressures to produce a frozen solid.  Methane, which is often referred to as “natural gas,” is the gas most often trapped in gas hydrate.  Globally, most methane hydrate is found below the seafloor at water depths greater than 300-500 meters (984–1,640 feet) on the margins of continents.  Gas hydrate also forms in and beneath permanently frozen ground (permafrost) at high northern latitudes and in the ground beneath large ice sheets (e.g., Greenland, Antarctica) and some glaciers.”

Gas hydrates are still being studied for their energy potential, as well as any risks associated with capturing and/or using them.  But they have the potential to be a useful alternative fuel source, and one that we now know we have here in Alaska.

The findings associated with Prudhoe Bay, especially as they relate to extending the field’s lifespan, are fantastic news for Alaska’s energy and resource-development economy.  It could mean a new source of development – and jobs – for our state.

Power The Future is encouraged by the findings from the USGS and looks forward to hearing more about how gas hydrates can be part of continued American energy dominance.