ANCHORAGE - There is enough natural gas in the Cook Inlet to supply southcentral Alaska's energy needs for a decade or longer, a new study by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources said.
The department estimates more than a trillion cubic feet of gas remains to be tapped in the 28 producing gas fields in Cook Inlet.
The Anchorage Daily News reports there have been concerns about future natural gas shortages in southcentral Alaska, but state officials say the study shows residents should not be concerned about gas levels.
The 47-page study published Monday, however, did not address some key challenges for Cook Inlet, including the declining production of its wells and regional utilities' concern about meeting peak consumer demand for gas during long, cold snaps.
Kevin Banks, director of the state's Oil and Gas Division, said the problem with Cook Inlet gas production is that it has gone static. Producers are drilling no more wells than it takes to meet contractual obligations to supply utilities, he said.
Tony Izzo, former president of Enstar Natural Gas Co., the region's gas utility, said the study's findings will help inform decision makers as they consider which energy projects they will develop and invest in, noting that the state's utilities are thinking about projects that include building a pipeline to southcentral Alaska and hydroelectric developments.