November 12, 2008 / 8:36 PM / 11 years ago

U.S. estimates 85.4 tcf in Alaska natural gas hydrates

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Alaskan North Slope contains 85.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates, the U.S. Interior Department estimated in a study released on Wednesday.

“This is a huge source of untapped energy,” Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said at a press conference. “These ice-like solids can be turned into usable natural gas.”

The gas from Alaska’s natural gas hydrates would be enough to heat more than 100 million average homes for 10 years.

It was the first estimate ever conducted of technically recoverable natural gas hydrates, which are crystalline structures of ice that contain natural gas molecules.

“Technically recoverable” means resources can be retrieved through current technology and practices. The Interior Department said more research must be done before natural gas hydrates are considered economically viable.

The amount of natural gas technically available from Alaska’s hydrates represents 11.5 percent of the undiscovered, technically recoverable gas resources onshore and in state waters of the United States, the department said.

Some other areas with large technically recoverable natural gas reserves include the Wyoming Basin with 85 tcf, Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve with 73 tcf and the Western Gulf Basin in Texas with 71 tcf.

The North Slope of Alaska has about 119.15 tcf of conventional recoverable gas resources.

The United States consumes about 23 tcf of natural gas per year, while about 104 tcf of gas is used globally per year.

Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe

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