Shale Oil Exploration Arrives in Alaska
Hydraulic fracturing, however, has been controversial. It has been blamed by some for contaminating ground water.
At a recent Fairbanks town hall meeting, Paskvan came to the process’ defense. He said a number of factors make Alaska different than developments in North Dakota or on the Marcellus formation. Alaska’s source rock is much deeper and farther away from drinkable water, he said.
“It’s not like you are putting at risk aquifers of drinkable water,” he said. “Are there environmental issues that need to be addressed in respect to surface water? In that respect the answer is yes, but [the owners of Great Bear] are absolutely aware of those and they are going to proceed forward with absolute caution and concern.”
In addition to exploring the financial and environmental impacts of bringing shale oil development to Alaska, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan said the state is working helping it flourish.
“The state, recognizing how important this play could potentially be, we’ve put together a shale task force last year to get out ahead of this issue,” he said. “If and when this actually starts to develop in Alaska, we’re prepared.”
Sullivan also said Alaska’s shale oil formations have a some key advantages compared to the Lower 48.
“We have issues like the remoteness and the arctic environment, but in the Lower 48 they’ve had such a rush of oil... they’ve been delivering it by trucks and by rail,” he said. “If there’s a shale play that can be developed responsibly and quickly in Alaska, it’s not the same problem, because we have a very big pipeline that has a lot of spare capacity.”