The Petroleum Development Laboratory (PDL) was established in 1984 to conduct oil and gas research.
Alaska’s oil production currently accounts for about 15% of U.S. production. In addition, potential exists for unconventional resources such as heavy oil, natural gas hydrates, and coal-seam methane.

old PDL logo


Current study areas include coal seam methane, methane hydrates, enhanced viscous/heavy oil recovery, carbon dioxide capture and sequestration, arctic oil well and geothermal well cementing, gas-to-liquid transportation through the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, and enhanced oil recovery through microbial and wettability alteration processes. PDL research also serves rural communities by exploring ways to keep fuel production and transport as economical and safe as possible. PDL focuses on North Slope conventional and heavy-oil development, North Slope conventional natural gas and methane-hydrate resource assessment and development, and coal-seam methane resource development in Alaska.


PDL works in partnership with the private sector, federal, state and local governments, and other non-government organizations to conduct research and extend technologies for assessing, characterizing, quantifying and developing Alaska’s oil and gas resources. One such partnership is with Kitami, Japan, to conduct joint research in the area of methane hydrates. Similar agreements are in progress with Russia and China. PDL attracts funding from sources such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and private oil companies.


Faculty in the Petroleum Development Laboratory conduct basic and applied research in areas such as reservoir characterization, modeling, and simulation; enhanced oil recovery; and fluid characterization, drilling, and production. They assist the Alaska petroleum industry, state agencies, and federal agencies in efforts to make better use of these resources under stable and healthy environmental conditions. PDL faculty are recognized nationally and internationally by such groups as the Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Association of Drilling Engineers, and National Academy of Sciences.

PDL offers extensive graduate research opportunities to students from Alaska and all over the world. Graduate students participating in PDL research are regularly recognized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and American Association of Drilling Engineers.


PDL maintains specialized laboratories, including the Pressure-Volume-Temperature (PVT) Fluid Properties Lab, Petrophysics Lab, Miscible Displacement Lab, Gas Hydrate Lab, GC/MS Analytical Lab, Ceramic Membrane Testing Lab, and Reservoir Characterization and Modeling Lab.