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Alaska turns eye to unconventional energy

April 18, 2013 at 7:01 AM

HOUSTON, April 18 (UPI) -- There's a strong interest to show that developing unconventional energy resources like methane hydrates makes sense, an Alaskan state commissioner said.

The Alaskan Department of Natural Resources signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Energy to study unconventional resources in arctic regions.

The MOU outlines ways in which technologies could be developed to help the state assess resource potential and production technologies.

Scientists working on the North Slope of Alaska last year injected a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen into underwater gas crystals to promote the release of natural gas. The Energy Department said the CO2 method was the first field trial of its kind.

"As a state, we want to responsibly develop and commercialize all of the North Slope's energy resources, which include gas hydrates, shale and viscous oil and other unconventional energy resources," Alaska DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan said in a statement. "Simultaneously, the Department of Energy is strongly interested in demonstrating that these resources can be developed on an economic scale."

Oil exploration in the Chuckchi and Beaufort seas was suspended. Supermajor Shell had a series of equipment setbacks last year and ConocoPhillips said there was growing regulatory uncertainty surrounding arctic campaigns.

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