The Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy have entered into an agreement to work together — and with potential investors — to study unconventional energy resources in Alaska’s Arctic.
The memorandum of understanding was signed in Houston by Alaska DNR commissioner Dan Sullivan and DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Christopher Smith.
“This is a clear example of how the state and the federal government can work together on energy issues that will play a critical role in Alaska’s future,” Sullivan said. “As a state, we want to responsibly develop and commercialize all of the North Slope’s energy resources, which include gas hydrates, shale and viscous oil, and other unconventional energy resources. Simultaneously, the Department of Energy is strongly interested in demonstrating that these resources can be developed on an economic scale.”
Smith agreed, stressing the importance of forming good working relationships with state and local partners in the DOE’s efforts to “responsibly and sustainably develop all of America’s rich energy resources” in reference to the agreement.
“By establishing a framework for our continued work with the state of Alaska, we will advance America’s energy development and research, including our understanding of methane hydrates — a vast, untapped potential energy resource,” Smith added. “This agreement will help ensure Alaska continues to play a critical role in supplying America’s and the world’s energy needs.”
According to the agreement, the Alaska DNR will help the DOE with its ongoing assessment of unconventional energy resources and its field evaluation of potential unconventional energy production technologies on the North Slope. This includes facilitating access to state lands and assisting with permitting and logistical issues, as well as providing expert review and interpretation of scientific data and reports by Division of Oil and Gas and Division of Geological and Geophysical Survey scientists.
Through its National Energy Technology Laboratory, the DOE will lead research and development projects and providing scientific oversight of the field studies. In the agreement, DOE commits to sharing the available technical data with the state of Alaska.
The agreement also encompasses Alaska’s conventional resources, allowing for the Alaska DNR and DOE to highlight the potential of all of state’s natural resources, including natural gas, gas hydrates and viscous oil, as important supply sources to meet domestic energy demands and to ensure domestic economic and energy security.
“This [agreement] highlights all of the energy resources of Alaska, from our huge conventional resource fields and natural gas opportunities to unparalleled on-shore methane hydrate resources,” Sullivan said. “It is critical for the state and DOE to work together to promote all of these opportunities. Responsible development of conventional resources today will support research advancements and unconventional breakthroughs in the future.”