CIRI coal to gas plant

From Global Energy Monitor

Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI) has proposed an underground coal gasification (UCG) plant on CIRI lands on the west side of Cook Inlet, about 20 miles north of Tyonek near the Beluga-area natural gas fields. If approved, the 100 megawatt plant would be the first UCG project in the United States. CIRI has proposed injecting the carbon generated by the coal gasification into older oil fields to enhance oil production and extend their life, but no detailed plans have been revealed.[1]

CIRI is owned by 7,200 Alaska Native shareholders of Athabascan and Southeast Indian, Inupiat and Yupik Eskimo, Alutiiq and Aleut descent. In addition to the UCG project, CIRI is also planning a large commercial wind power project on Fire Island in same area.[2]

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is serving as a technical consultant for the project, and a contract is also in negotiation with a commercial partner, Laurus Energy, a development affiliate of Ergo Exergy.[3]

CIRI applied for permits in November 2010, and plans to begin an explorative drilling program in winter 2010. A preliminary resource assessment and site selection for the project is expected by early spring 2010. Contingent on permit approvals, construction of facilities could begin in early 2013, with electricity generated by early 2014.[4]

As of March 2010, CIRI has begun fieldwork by exploring underground coal seams on a site about 40 miles west of Anchorage. The first of six test wells are scheduled to be completed by April, after which a more focused drilling program will begin at a to be determined site. CIRI plans to apply for permits in December 2010.[5]

Project Details

Sponsor: Cook Inlet Region Inc.
Location: Beluga coal field
Capacity: 100 MW
Type: Underground Coal Gasification
Projected in service: 2014
Status: Development


Citizen Groups



  1. CIRI unveils coal gasification project, Megan Baldino, KTUU Alaska News, October 8, 2009.
  2. Livermore Lab works on Alaska coal power project, Steven E.F. Brown, San Francisco Business Times, October 19, 2009.
  3. “CIRI's coal plan pairs 'promising' technologies”, Rena Delbridge, Alaska Dispatch, October 12, 2009.
  4. "CIRI lays out plans for new coal-to-gas project", Tim Bradner, Alaska Journal of Commerce, October 8, 2009.
  5. { "Stopping the Coal Rush"], Sierra Club, accessed March 10, 2010.

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