Drilling shows Alaska's petroleum reserve heavy in natural gas

Recent drilling results indicate that the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska contains roughly a tenth of the oil that federal scientists had previously estimated, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday.

Instead, the federal agency said, natural gas is the dominant energy resource in the reserve and nearby state waters.

The findings don't portend well for future oil exploration in vast swaths of the reserve, which had already been dwindling due to oil companies' own findings. The results, in fact, show that one of the most promising places for oil exploration in NPRA is in one of its most environmentally sensitive areas, near Teshekpuk Lake.

The land originally had been set aside in 1923 as an emergency oil supply for the Navy and oil and gas leasing remains one of the reserve's core activities. The research findings published Tuesday are based on new seismic surveys and drilling results from more than 30 exploration wells in the region in recent years.

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