Southcentral faces running short of natural gas 

By Tim Bradner | Anchorage Daily News: The natural gas supply situation in Southcentral Alaska is anything but secure. True, we have people drilling exploration wells in Cook Inlet. We also have a natural gas storage project now constructed and being filled with gas to cushion our supplies this winter.

But no significant discoveries have yet been announced from the new exploration. And while gas storage is helpful, assuring that gas flows during cold weather, it doesn’t add to the overall supply, which is the problem.

Here’s the issue: Tens of thousands of residences and commercial buildings in Southcentral depend on natural gas for space heating. About 90 percent of our electricity is generated with gas too.

But our gas fields in the region, discovered in the 1960s when explorers were looking for oil, are running down. Gas production is about half of what it was a decade ago.

Unless some big gas discoveries are made soon by those explorers, we’ll actually be short of what we need by 2014, and by 2015 for certain.

That’s according to a study by Petrotechnical Resources of Alaska, a consulting firm contracted to assess the situation by regional utilities Enstar Natural Gas, Chugach Electric and Municipal Light and Power.

PRA did its first report in 2010, finding we’d be short of gas by 2013. In a 2011 update, the day of doom was pushed to 2014. This year’s update, just now being released, looks at new drilling so far in 2012 and finds the 2014 doomsday unchanged.

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