The need for affordable energy sources is acute in rural communities of Alaska where costly diesel fuel must be delivered by barge or plane for power generation. Additionally, the transport, transfer, and storage of fuel pose great difficulty in these regions. Although small-scale energy development in remote Arctic locations presents unique challenges, identifying and developing economic, local sources of energy remains a high priority for state and local government.
Many areas in rural Alaska contain widespread coal resources that may contain significant amounts of coalbed methane (CBM) that, when extracted, could be used for power generation. However, in many of these areas, little is known concerning the properties that control CBM occurrence and production, including coal bed geometry, coalbed gas content and saturation, reservoir permeability and pressure, and water chemistry. Therefore, drilling and testing to collect these data are required to accurately assess the viability of CBM as a potential energy source in most locations.
In 2004, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Alaska Department of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS), the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), the Doyon Native Corporation, and the village of Fort Yukon, organized and funded the drilling of a well at Fort Yukon, Alaska to test coal beds for CBM developmental potential. Fort Yukon is a town of about 600 people and is composed mostly of Gwich'in Athabascan Native Americans. It is located near the center of the Yukon Flats Basin, approximately 145 mi northeast of Fairbanks.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Drilling and Testing the DOI041A Coalbed Methane Well, Fort Yukon, Alaska