The state has given the OK to a plan by Linc Energy to explore for coal in the Tyonek area. Last month, Linc submitted an application to drill at least five exploratory wells in an area about seven miles from Tyonek, on the West side of Cook Inlet.
Russel Kirkham is the state’s coal regulatory program manager, says the application is to dril five exploratoin holes for coal seams within the Tyonek,and Beluga area.
“It doesn’t allow any other activity except for that work. It is for a two year period, and after that two year period, Linc Energy can apply for another application to do additional drilling if they need to.”
Kirkham says the state is asking for a reclamation bond of more than 95 thousand dollars for cleanup of the exploration activities. He says the exploration permit is specific as to what types of equipment Linc Energy is allowed to use.
“(If) they want to change their equipment, they would have to come back to the state to have it approved and we would review that and make sure it is within the scope of the work.”
Linc Energy specializes in coal to liquids technology. The underground liquification process is used to make synthetic gas, according to Paul Ludwing, Linc Energy’s general manager of stakeholder relations. Ludwig says Linc Energy has licenses for more than 107 thousand acres of Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority land, issued in 2011. The Tyonek/ Kenai coal is buried over 2, 500 feet deep and hosts seams 25 – 30 feet thick which are potentially suitable for coal to gas technology, Ludwig said in an email. The exploration permit will allow Linc to drill cores samples of the coal seams, and to study the coal quality to make sure the coal is suitable for the process.
The Alaska Mental Health Trust owns both the surface and the subsurface rights in the exploration license area. If exploration is successfull, and if Linc is issued a mining permit, the Trust will set a royalty rate for the coal.