State officials are proposing to give Usibelli Coal Mine a license to explore for natural gas in the Healy area of Interior Alaska, according to a final finding dated today.
The license gives Usibelli the right to explore for conventional and unconventional natural gas supplies cross 208,630 acres just east of Denali National Park and Preserve, a stretch of land that traverses the Parks Highway. Usibelli currently operates a coal strip mine in that area, and the region is thought to have high potential for coalbed methane.
The license does not allow Usibelli to explore for oil.
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources issued its final finding on the matter nearly five years after issuing its preliminary finding, a delay caused by local opposition to coalbed methane development in the region. Whether additional concerns remain will come to light in the coming weeks. Those who commented on the preliminary finding have until July 19 to ask the state to reconsider its decision to issue the license to Usibelli.
If no one protests, the license would become effective on July 28.
The license requires Usibelli to conduct $500,000 worth of work over 10 years. If the company decides to pursue the resources further, it would need to convert the license to normal exploration leases, and follow the traditional development process from there.
Editorís note: See story in July 4 issue, available to subscribers online at noon, Friday, July 2, at www.PetroleumNews.com.