The state Department of Natural Resources has received a request from Australia-based Linc Energy for a coal exploration permit. The area to be explored is located Northeast of Tyonek on the western side of Cook Inlet, and much of it is within the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Activities are to consist of drilling up to five exploration holes. The lease area covers more than 107 thousand acres. The Alaska Mental Health Lands Trust owns both the surface and subsurface rights in the lease area.
Russel Kirkham is DNR’s coal regulatory program manager. Kirkham says Linc Energy specializes in underground coal gasification technology.
According to the company’s website, Linc Energy has demonstrated its ability to produce diesel and jet fuel from the coal gassification process.
Linc Energy’s Anchorage office did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
The exploration wells that are proposed are to be drilled are in the Tyonek portion of the lease area, which is located in the Beluga River basin. Site mobilization is set for August first, and drilling is expected to begin in September of this year.
DNR has determined the reclamation bond for the project to be 95, 372 dollars.
Bob Shavelson, with Cook Inletkeeper, says the markets for coal gassification are “not there”. Shavelson says Cook Inlet has plenty of natural gas, and he points to a new oil and gas platform being built in Nikiski.
In 2010, Linc Energy acquired about 122 thousand acres of state of Alaska Mental Health Trust oil and gas leases in the Cook Inlet Basin, and in 2011, the company was granted more than 181 thousand acres of underground coal gasification coal exploration licenses in Alaska.
Public comment deadline on the exploration permit is August 23. The complete documentation of the permit application is on DNR’s website.