Ahtna Incorporated is planning to develop natural gas wells near Glennallen in order to supply local communities.
They recently licensed 44,000 acres of state land about 15 miles west of Glenallen.
They would be the first organization to go beyond exploration all the way to production. Ahtna land and resource manager Joe Bovee says that’s because their goals are different. Unlike like previous explorers, they aren’t looking for oil to export.
“It wouldn’t be a real money maker or lucrative to any company, but for our local demands it would probably offset our fuel costs 30-40 percent,” Bovee said.
The data they have from previous exploration indicates that there is enough gas to provide heat and electricity to the local area for 50 to 100 years at a minimum.
Bovee says the important thing about the project is it would keep people living in the Ahtna region. Ahtna would only earn about $100,000-$200,000 per year, which would go toward operating costs.
The current plan is to distribute gas to local residents and possibly utilities via a small pipeline. Houses and electric generators would have to be retrofitted to use gas instead of oil. Eventually they might build a small LNG plant to get the gas to Valdez or Delta Junction.
Right now, the company is working on refining the 2D seismic data gathered in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 90s.
“And to compare that it’s like looking at a black and white television from the 50s or 60s,” Bovee said. “Reprocessing it, it’s still 2D seismic data however it will be more of a flat screen, HD-color type. So we can re-evaluate that.”
Then they’ll know where to build a production pad and start drilling. They hope to be done with exploration before the Middle Earth Frontier tax credits expire in mid-2016. The legislature passed the credits in 2012 to encourage oil and gas exploration in areas outside of the North Slope and Cook Inlet. He says the credit makes exploration worthwhile, and ultimately will be a good deal for the state.
“The cost savings at the school district i.e. the state of Alaska would have to be paying to operate the Glennallen school over say 10 or 20 years would save whatever you end up paying in tax credits to a company to explore for oil or natural gas in a Middle Earth Frontiers tax credit area,” Bovee said.
Bovee says they hope to be sending gas into homes by early 2017.