Contact: Michael Brumas at 202.224.9301 or Anne Johnson at 202.224.8069

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R–Alaska, today welcomed a new assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey indicating that up to an additional 157.8 trillion cubic feet of methane gas hydrates may be recoverable from Alaska’s North Slope. The study adds urgency to efforts to get an Alaskan natural gas pipeline under construction.

“This report improves the economics of an Alaskan natural gas pipeline, and may be key to keeping America from increasing its dependence on imported sources of natural gas in the future,” said Murkowski. “Methane Hydrate production may prove to be a key element of a balanced national energy plan in the years ahead. The fact that Alaska’s onshore methane hydrates appear to be capable of production using existing technology is great news for not only Alaska’s future economy, but also for the nation.”

The report, unveiled by Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne this morning, said a new appraisal by USGS of three likely zones of methane hydrates in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, at Prudhoe Bay and the uplands south of the existing oil field, and into the Arctic coastal plain, indicates the entire North Slope has a 5 percent chance of producing 157.8 trillion cubic of gas hydrates utilizing existing technology, and a 95 percent chance of producing 25.23 trillion cubic feet, with the mean estimate being 85.4 tcf. According to the estimates about 20.6 percent of the hydrates likely lie under the Arctic coastal plain inside the boundaries of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, about 33 percent lie under the greater Prudhoe Bay oil field and areas to the south and west, while 36.9 percent lie under parts of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska – the so-called Nanushuk formation.

Murkowski noted that just the mean estimate of 85.4 tcf would nearly triple the 35 tcf of known conventional natural gas already discovered near Prudhoe Bay. She said the report’s estimates should highlight the urgency of moving ahead with construction of a large natural gas pipeline to move Alaska’s gas to market.

“This report indicates that since Alaska’s methane hydrates can be developed now, using conventional technology already tested in the Canadian Arctic without environmental damage, that we all need to renew our efforts to get a gas line built as soon as possible to make sure that America utilizes its own gas, rather than build costly regasification terminals so that we can become increasingly dependent on imported LNG,” said Murkowski.