FAIRBANKS - An unidentified company is asking the state for an oil and gas exploration license in the Nenana Basin in what is the first significant interest in the area in two decades.
"I believe this is going to be a conventional gas play they are looking for," said James Hansen, leasing officer with the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas. The identity of the applicant is confidential at this point, Hansen said, because the state must solicit competing proposals before issuing a license.
"Whoever agrees to spend the most money for exploration would get the license," he said.
The request is for 500,000 acres somewhere in the state's 1.4-million-acre Nenana Basin Study Area, which goes north beyond Old Minto and south to just past the Denali Borough's northern border.
Potential for natural gas in the sedimentary basin around Nenana is unknown. The state has not explored the area, Hansen said, and the scant private exploration occurred about 20 years ago.
The area has also drawn recent interest for its possible reserves of coal bed methane, shallow gas pockets that are sometimes associated with coal deposits.
The state recently awarded 96 coal bed methane leases in the Interior. The leases are small, no more than 5,760 acres each, and no single lessee can hold more than 46,000 acres.