Beluga River starts at Beluga Lake and flows southeast for about 30 miles (48 km) to Cook Inlet, about 46 miles (74 km) north-northeast of Kenai and 35 miles (57 km) west of Anchorage, Alaska. Beluga Lake is principally formed by the meltwaters of the Triumvirate Glacier. The local name for the river was reported in 1898 by the U.S. Geological Survey and is derived from the Russian “byeluga” that refers to the “white whale”. The historical Tanaina village of Beluga, that today has only a few buildings, is about 4 miles (6.5 km) southwest of the river mouth and 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Tyonek.
The Beluga River gas field is a shallow accumulation discovered in 1962, approximately 7.5 miles (12 km) long by 2.5 miles (4 km) wide. The trap is a north-northeast trending fault-propagation fold creating a basin filled with a thick sequence of sandstone, siltstone, mudstone, and coal. The field is in the late stage of commercial development, with many of the reservoir sandstones depleted to less than 40% of original pressure and with most down-structure wells experiencing water encroachment in reservoir sandstones that present significant operational issues.
In 1996, the city-owned utility Anchorage Municipal Light and Power purchased a one-third share of the Beluga field. In 2013, Anchorage Municipal Light and Power partnered with Chugach Electric Association to build the Southcentral Power Project, a 183-megawatt natural gas-fired plant. Anchorage Municipal Light and Power also built the 120-megawatt natural gas-fired George M. Sullivan Power Plant in Northeast Anchorage. In 2016, the utility partnered with Chugach Electric Association to purchase ConocoPhillips one-third interest in the beluga gas field. Hilcorp Energy owns the remaining third and is the operator on behalf of the utilities. Combining the new, more efficient generation with utility-owned gas reserves provides power at a lower cost. Read more here and here. Explore more of Beluga River here: