automation update | News from the Field
Alaska ﬁnds more energy …
about a trillion dollars more
he new Alaska pipeline may have that of the “actual and useful.”
even more product to carry than Government research is beginning to
originally planned, according to an show it may be possible to extract hy-
assessment released in November by the drates using depressurization, a tech-
U.S. Geological Survey. nique used to get at more conventional
Frozen crystals packed with concen- fuel sources.
trated natural gas and buried 2,000 feet Simply boring into the ground may be dioxide into wells to replace the hydrates.
below the permafrost on Alaska’s North enough to change the pressure to extract That also would allow the carbon dioxide,
Slope could become the next major do- it, said Steve Rinehart, a representative for a greenhouse gas, to reside in the wells
mestic energy source says the report. British Petroleum in Alaska. Alternatively, rather than the atmosphere.
The study ﬁnds in the North Slope, fro- pumping could also change the pressure. BP participated in government studies
zen methane-and-water crystals known Gas hydrates exist all over the world, last year that drilled for core samples of hy-
as hydrates contain as much as 85.4 tril- including offshore, but a combination of drates. So far, there have been no tests of
lion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. cold and pressure makes them especially producing hydrates as commercially viable
prevalent in the Arctic, where there is also natural gas. That is next, but BP and Cono-
New Alaskan pipeline a sure boon an existing oil and gas infrastructure to coPhillips remain skeptical. There are tre-
to state and automation sector:
study them. mendous conventional natural-gas deposits
Read more at www.isa.org/
InTech/20080802. The U.S. Department of Energy describes in Alaska to consider ﬁrst, Rinehart said.
them as “ice-like solids that result from the Other countries that import most of
Natural gas wholesales for about one trapping of methane molecules within a their fuel, including Japan and India, have
cent per cubic foot, and the price when lattice-like cage of water molecules.” been aggressively pursuing their own hy-
it enters a users home is 50-to-300% Hydrates release gaseous methane— drate potential.
higher. That is enough to heat 100 mil- the main component of natural gas— The possibility of recovering natural-
lion homes for as long as 10 years, U.S. when they melt.