• 4 minutes Europeans and Americans are beginning to see the results of depending on renewables.
  • 7 minutes Is China Rising or Falling? Has it Enraged the World and Lost its Way? How is their Economy Doing?
  • 13 minutes NordStream2
  • 11 hours Monday 9/13 - "High Natural Gas Prices Today Will Send U.S. Production Soaring Next Year" by Irina Slav
  • 56 mins California to ban gasoline for lawn mowers, chain saws, leaf blowers, off road equipment, etc.
  • 19 hours "Here is The Hidden $150 Trillion Agenda Behind The "Crusade" Against Climate Change" - Zero Hedge re: Bank of America REPORT
  • 20 hours GREEN NEW DEAL = BLIZZARD OF LIES
  • 2 days An Indian Opinion on What is Going on in China
  • 2 days "A Very Predictable Global Energy Crisis" by Irina Slav --- MUST READ
  • 1 day Nord Stream - US/German consultations
  • 2 days Can Technology Keep Coal Plants Alive and Well?
  • 3 days Two Good and Plausible Ideas about Saving Water and Redirecting it to Where it is Needed.
  • 3 days Succession Planning in Human Resources for Vaccinated Individuals in the Oil & Gas Industry
  • 5 days Perfect Energy Storm in Europe: turning our back on fossil fuels is easier said than done!
  • 2 days U.S. : Employers Can Buy Retirement Security for $2.64 an Hour
  • 2 days Storage of gas cylinders
A Successful Energy Transition Will Need Oil Demand Destruction

A Successful Energy Transition Will Need Oil Demand Destruction

While governments and international institutions…

How Much Oil Can OPEC Realistically Add?

How Much Oil Can OPEC Realistically Add?

Years of underinvestment and shut…

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba

Haley Zaremba is a writer and journalist based in Mexico City. She has extensive experience writing and editing environmental features, travel pieces, local news in the…

More Info

Premium Content

Alaskan Oil Returns With A Vengeance

After years of steady decline in production and bottomed-out oil prices, Alaska is in a rough spot. They’re over a billion dollars in debt, in large part thanks to unfulfilled cash incentives to oil companies, and now many of their remaining oil producers are pulling out at the same time that the North Slope and Cook Inlet oil fields face thousands of layoffs.

Over the last three decades the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which peaked back in 1988, has been steadily draining. Where 2.1 million barrels oil once flowed through daily, now 500,000 barrels trickle through. Older oilfields in Alaska’s oil-rich North Slope have long since been drilled dry, with onetime powerhouses like Prudhoe Bay, the Kuparuk River and the Alpine now nearly out of commission.

But all hope is not lost. Now, after an executive order from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is updating their assessments of oil and gas on Alaska’s North Slope. The USGS is looking into areas that have been protected from drilling since the 1980s, and reevaluating whether they should be opened anew for petroleum exploration. For the first time in a long time, Alaska is now facing the very real potential of a major energy industry comeback.

It has long been believed that large swaths of protected land in Alaska’s North Slope are home to vast reserves, potentially holding hundreds of millions or even billions of barrels of oil. Since these lands are home to environmentally important and delicate ecosystems, growing more precious all the time, legislation and land management policies have kept them closed to oil interests for decades. Now, with the current bullish administration and a changing government attitude toward environmental regulations, this could all be changing shortly.

Already there is some development stirring on the long-stagnant slope. In April Armstrong Oil & Gas discovered the Pikka Field, which could produce up to 1.2 billion barrels of oil, and is just one of three major finds that have reignited oil interest in the waning North Slope. In March ConocoPhillips announced the unexpected discovery of a reserve that could produce up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day, which prompted them to purchase grand parcels of land in state and federal lease sales last December.

Indeed, ConocoPhillips Alaska has already begun drilling this month at one of their new sites on the North Slope, a big development after the project was delayed last year in response to dismal oil prices. The site, a source of viscous oil, was previously deemed not to be worth the more difficult and costly extraction required for the thicker form of oil. Now, in a turn of events few could have predicted, the $460 million project is back on track and they expect oil to be flowing at the new site before the end of the year at an anticipated rate of 8,000 barrels a day. Related: When Can We Expect An Oil Price Breakout?

Inspired by the new discoveries, other oil companies are now testing their luck as well. This summer Accumulate Energy Alaska, working with Burgundy Xploration of Houston, drilled a test well 40 miles south of the North Slope to experiment with hydraulic fracking, a method that had not yet been tested in the region. Though the oil-flow tests are still in progress at that site, the company already has plans to push forward and drill two new wells next spring after the ground thaws and roads become passable once again.

While it’s too early to say if Alaska is poised for a return to its former glory, it’s certainly an exciting time on the North Slope. With once-frozen projects beginning to thaw, administrative and regulatory tides changing, and international investors pivoting north once again, Alaskan oil is ready for its resurrection.

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:


Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage





Leave a comment

Leave a comment




EXXON Mobil -0.35
Open57.81 Trading Vol.6.96M Previous Vol.241.7B
BUY 57.15
Sell 57.00
Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News