Starting in early December, Unocal Alaska, plans to drill 3-5 wells on shore near Ninilchik and another 1-3 wells in the Anchor Point area. John Zager, Manager of Resource Development for Unocal Alaska, told the Kenai Chapter of the Alliance last week that if successful ultimately a pipeline would be constructed to Ninilchik, Anchor Point and eventually to Homer to transport gas north and to serve consumers along the way.
"Over all this is a project that is very beneficial to the local area to provide a long term energy supply and a real stimulus to the local economy in terms of the capital that will be spent to develop the project," said Zager.
The exploration is being driven by a projected shortage of gas in the Cook Inlet area, "In order to meet the looming demand for natural gas we have to start looking for that gas now. Also, the price of gas has to support and warrant the tens of millions of dollars that have to be invested up front to find the gas. We have recently signed a contract with Enstar that has been approved by the RCA that provides stimulus for companies such as Unocal to explore for new gas because it becomes a commercially viable project," added Zager.
New technologies have dramatically reduced the environmental impact of exploratory drilling according to Zager. If the project proves commercial drilling muds will be ground into fine particles and re-injected back into a special disposal well thousands of feet beneath the surface under layers of confining rock where they are confined and isolated from water aquifers or fresh water supplies. The drilling phase of the project will only last 30-40 days, during which time the rigs may be visible from the road and residents in the near vicinity may hear operations. After the wells are completed only a small steel structure will remain that will not be visible unless you drive on to the location.
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