Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
September 2020

Vol. 25, No.39 Week of September 27, 2020

DOE office supporting Arctic research reestablished at UAF

Alan Bailey

for Petroleum News

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Sept. 17 that it is re-establishing its Arctic Energy Office in the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, had been pushing for the funding of the AEO - the office was originally established in 2001, but was reduced to two part-time contractors with no designated physical space in 2010, according to Murkowski’s office. Under a new federal appropriation the re-established AEO will have three suitably qualified interim staff.

The office will drive coordination and collaboration on DOE Arctic activities, including the pursuit of international cooperation on Arctic issues; methane hydrate research; and the development of advanced electrical micro grids, potentially including small nuclear reactors, DOE says.

“The United States is an Arctic nation, and the region continues to play an essential role in meeting our nation’s energy needs, as well as those of our friends and allies,” said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “DOE’s Arctic Energy Office will grow to strengthen and coordinate our work in energy, science, and national security and help build an Arctic future of prosperity and increased opportunity.”

Murkowski expresses satisfaction

Murkowski expressed her satisfaction with the new funding arrangements. She had worked with Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in each of the last two fiscal years, to request a revival of the Arctic Energy Office. She also encouraged the re-establishment of the AEO during the nomination hearings for Brouillette and Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes.

“The United States is an Arctic nation because of Alaska, and the re-establishment of the Arctic Energy Office in Fairbanks will ensure greater collaboration between our state’s innovators and the Department of Energy’s cutting-edge researchers,” Murkowski said. “I have prioritized this office in the appropriations process because I know it will help facilitate the development of advanced energy technologies that benefit resource-rich Alaska and the country. I thank Secretary Brouillette, Deputy Secretary Menezes, and their teams for working with us to re-establish this important office.”

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, also commented on the new AEO funding.

“Realizing America’s role as an Arctic nation involves bringing more vessels, more research, more ports, and more personnel to the region - to Alaska - and the reestablishment of the Arctic Energy Office is an important development as we work to make that vision a reality,” Sullivan said. “I commend Secretary Brouillette and Sen. Murkowski for their work to bring this Arctic office back to life, and I look forward to the vital scientific research and coordination that will serve Alaskans, the nation, and our global partners as a result.”

Fits into UAF

UAF already houses the Alaska Center for Energy and Power, the Cold Climate Housing Research Center operated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The Arctic Energy Office’s focus aligns well with UAF’s academic and scientific expertise,” said UAF Chancellor Dan White. “Our deep regional knowledge and international partnerships make UAF a strong partner in advancing America’s security and prosperity by addressing the challenges in the Arctic. I look forward to welcoming the Arctic Energy Office to the UAF Troth Yeddha’ campus in Fairbanks.”

Prior to being wound down in 2010, the AEO had been involved in a number of Alaska activities, including North Slope research into potential natural gas production from methane hydrate deposits. The office participated in projects involving the drilling of methane hydrate test wells on the Slope, and an investigation into the possible impact of methane hydrates on gas production from gas fields near Utqiagvik.


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