February 17, 2011
By Patti Epler in Alaska Dispatch: ConocoPhillips will likely have to shut in gas wells in its Beluga and and North Cook Inlet fields this summer since it won’t need the gas for export to Japan, a company official told a legislative committee on Tuesday.
Dan Clark, manager of Cook Inlet assets for ConocoPhillips, appeared at the request of the House Economic Development Committee, which wanted to talk about the company’s announcement last week that it would close its Nikiski liquefied natural gas plant as soon as April.
The plant has been operating for 40 years, exporting LNG to Tokyo Electric and Tokyo Gas in Japan.
ConocoPhillips, which owns the facility with Marathon Oil, had recently received a new export license from the federal government to continue shipments through 2013. But company officials said a glut of LNG on the Asian market had made continued shipments economically unviable. They decided to mothball the plant, but, as Clark said Tuesday, keep it in good shape so it can be reopened either for exports again or perhaps retrofitted as a facility that could import LNG.
Shutting in wells at the two fields will be necessary because the gas isn’t needed in the summer, Clark said. But next winter, when Southcentral Alaska generally uses all the gas it can get to keep homes heated and lights on, it may not be easy or even possible to restart the wells because of their age and other condition, he said.
The fields have been in production for more than 40 years and the company will make every effort to shut down the wells in a way that will be the least damaging. Read more
November 2, 2010
By Tim Bradner at the Alaska Journal of Commerce: Utilities and natural gas producers in Southcentral Alaska are beefing up their systems to get ready for winter.
Owners of the Beluga gas field, which supplies fuel to Chugach Electric Association’s Beluga power plant, are adding a new compressor unit to offset the effect of declining gas production and Chugach itself is changing the configuration of piping in a gas-inlet unit to allow the power plant to take gas at lower pressures.
This allows the plant to continue normal operation if there is an upset in gas supply and pressure drops in the system, Chugach spokesman Phil Steyer said. Read more
December 28, 2009
From Rena Delbridge at Alaska Dispatch: Southcentral’s 350,000 residents are snug this winter in homes with plenty of heat and Christmas lights twinkling. But the sense of security fed by light and warmth is a false one in the state’s major population area, where utilities are a step or two away from rolling power outages if the weather turns bitter cold — cold enough to put out of order the complex metal machinery that pushes natural gas through lines and into homes; cold enough to push demand off the charts. And by the winter of 2011-12, deliverability could be an issue beyond peak demand in the coldest spells. Read more
October 27, 2009
A good story by Eric Lidji at the Petroleum News tracing some of the history of the natural gas situation in Cook Inlet: The Kenai gas field started out as an oddball no one quite knew what to do with, but became an essential component of daily life and industry in Southcentral Alaska. And now, at 50, the field is like most people its age: a bit slower, but still moving. The discovery gave the Anchorage region — where two-thirds of the state’s population lives — a crucial tool for survival in the far north: a cheap, nearby source of energy. But abundant natural gas also made Southcentral dependent on the fuel, which is becoming a growing problem as fields like Kenai age and fade away and as natural gas prices locally have risen over the decades since the discovery of the field. Read more.
October 2, 2009
Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan announced an emergency plan for averting a gas crisis this winter that unaddressed could leave homes in Southcentral without electricity and heat. The plan got lots of coverage so I won’t go into details here beyond giving you the links to the stories. The gist of the problem is that on a really cold winter day, when demand for heat and electricity spikes, there won’t be enough gas to maintain pressure in the lines. Too little pressure and the gas stops flowing, kind of like how a balloon loses its oomph as it deflates. The emergency plan involves monitoring the pressure, and putting out public alerts to have utilities and residents cut back their energy usage before we reach critical point.
Anchorage Daily News
September 2, 2009
The issue of a natural gas shortfall in Cook Inlet and the potential for rolling brownouts this winter in Anchorage and other Railbelt communities was the focus of a House Energy Special Committee meeting on Sept. 1. It was covered by KTUU, and KTVA. The Petroleum News also published a story about the issue. The meeting focused on plans for ensuring an adequate supply of gas, both for the short- and long-term, and preventing any loss of power or heat to the more than 300,000 people that live in the Railbelt communities. The contingency plan includes agreements between the utilities to reduce their use of natural gas on peak demand days, and getting people to cut back on energy use. REAP Executive Director Chris Rose spoke about REAP’s upcoming Alaska Efficiency Challenge, a fun and practical program for reducing energy consumption. The Challenge will provide residents tips for saving money on their energy bills, and allow schools, businesses, and even municipaltites to compete against each other to see who can save the most energy.
June 6, 2009
This article by Eric Lidji details the potential energy crisis that could result from Southcentral’s dependence on Cook Inlet natural gas for electricity and heat.
Deliverability, the ability of gas line companies to deliver natural gas to consumers, is dwindling, particularly at times of peak demand. There are several options to fix this problem in the short term, but as gas reserves decline changes in gas supply or gas demand will be necessary. Lidji explores the current problems facing gas producers, gasline suppliers and consumers, and potential solutions here.