Marathon wants to store gas

Pumping gas into Kenai field could boost wintertime supplies

Posted: Thursday, September 01, 2005

Marathon Oil Co. wants to start storing natural gas in the Kenai Gas Field in an effort to better manage smaller natural gas supplies in Southcentral Alaska.

The Houston-based oil and gas company submitted applications to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conversation Commission and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources this month to start storing gas in the field.

This is a way for the company to manage its assets, said company spokesman Paul Weeditz.

"For some time we've realized that gas storage would be required in the Cook Inlet," Weeditz said.

The Kenai Gas Field, located off of Kalifornsky Beach Road between Soldotna and Kasilof, was discovered in 1959. It was a mammoth field that has supplied much of the region with gas since.

In winter, demand for natural gas peaks. Because the gas fields in the region are aging and have lower pressure, it can make it difficult to get gas out of the well fast enough on a daily basis to meet the high demand.

Storing gas has been identified by the borough and state as a way to help manage that seasonal demand. By storing gas, producers like Marathon have a ready supply of gas to deliver on peak days so there is no interruption in gas supply.

Marathon is the second company that has said it wants to store natural gas in Southcentral Alaska. Unocal Corp. has submitted two gas storage applications — one to the state of Alaska to store gas on the west side of Cook Inlet and one to the federal government to store gas in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Both applications are still pending.

Marathon has focused its efforts in the region on exploring for new supplies of natural gas. However, Weeditz said Marathon expects future gas finds to be smaller — or flow gas at lower rates — meaning that the wells will not flow as much gas at one time.

"The characteristics of the newer fields are very different than the prolific fields in the past," he said.

Because demand varies, having a place to store excess gas when demand is low can help maintain a steady rate, he said.

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