The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has approved a cost reimbursement agreement to undertake feasibility activities of Alyeschem, LLC, the ﬁrst petrochemical facility in the Arctic.
Alyeschem is developing a small chemical plant in Prudhoe Bay to make methanol and hydrogen from natural gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). and water. The hydrogen will then be used to remove sulfur from diesel produced on the North Slope so that it can be used in engines.
This will eliminate the cost, risk, and emissions from transporting the two highest-volume imports to the North Slope. Methanol is the simplest chemical made from natural gas, yet it has been imported thousands of miles, daily, for over 40 years.
Alyeschem’s project will reduce CO2 emissions by 93%, or 45,000 tons per year, AIDEA said. It will reduce transportation pollution and enable cleaner and cheaper fuel. By eliminating the long supply chain of importing methanol, the project will also reduce wear and congestion on the Dalton Highway along with environmental impacts.
“AIDEA is excited to begin the process for potential investment in Alyeschem as the project could lead to 150 jobs and be a catalyst for economic growth in the region along with the environmental beneﬁts,” AIDEA said in a press release.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy supports the project, which he said addresses a longstanding need in the state for supplying critical chemicals like methanol and utilizing stranded North Slope natural gas.
“Alyeschem’s strategic location on the North Slope creates a unique opportunity to meet the current demand and contribute to Alaska’s economic growth and create jobs. This project allows us to keep more of the value from our raw materials within the state and aligns with our goal of maximizing the beneﬁts of our resources. Together, we’re harnessing the power of North Slope natural gas to drive prosperity, innovation, and a cleaner, more resilient future for Alaska,” Dunleavy said.
JR Wilcox is the president of Alyeschem. Wilcox has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in environmental chemistry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He has broad experience in the Alaska oil and gas industry, having worked in roles of increasing responsibility for BP, Forest Oil, and Pacific Energy prior to cofounding Cook Inlet Energy. He served as president of CIE through 2014 when he left to found Aleyschem. He is past national Chairman of the IOGCC’s Safety and Environment Committee and Chairman of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and was recognized as one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2012.
Craig Graff is chief operating officer of Alyeschem. He has a a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison and is a registered professional engineer in Alaska. He worked for Nalco, providing specialty chemicals for oilfields across Alaska until 2007, and then as an engineering team lead for BP until 2020. His responsibilities extended through the Kuparuk, Milne Point, Northstar, Prudhoe Bay, Endicott, and Badami oilfields as well as providing technical oversight for Alyeska Pipeline. As the manager responsible for the chemical budget at Prudhoe Bay until 2020, he was directly responsible for the largest methanol spend in the Alaska oilfields.
More about Alyeschem and the project details are at the company’s website.