Early findings in an ongoing four-year study of enhanced oil recovery of heavy oil in Alaska’s North Slope have shown promising results that could potentially unlock billions of barrels of oil, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reports.
Alaska’s North Slope holds heavy oil, and although it has not been precisely quantified, officials at the Department of Natural Resources think the volumes could be in the range of tens of billions of barrels, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce.
The joint study of Hillcorp Alaska and the University of Alaska Fairbanks was launched in 2018 to examine the feasibility and economic viability of injecting a synthetic polymer to enhance the recovery of heavy oils on the
Alaskan North Slope. At the start of the comprehensive $9.6-million research program over four years, the researchers said it had a high probability of success since polymer flood had been proven effective in Canada and China.
In a paper in October 2020, the petroleum engineers and researchers said, “Encouraged by the promising results of this pilot, Hilcorp Alaska is planning to apply polymer flood technology in the Schrader Bluff reservoir throughout the Milne Point Field.”
“We have not failed; let me put it that way. We have succeeded so far,” Abhijit Dandekar, chair of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Petroleum Engineering Department, said in an interview with Elwood Brehmer of the Alaska Journal of Commerce this week.
Yet, Alaska and its heavy oil will not benefit from President Joe Biden’s shift to support green energy and halt temporarily new leases on federal lands and in federal waters.
Rystad Energy has estimated that around 72 percent of Alaska’s remaining recoverable oil resources could stay in the ground, although the effect on production will be felt only after 2030. Alaska’s remaining recoverable oil reserves are estimated at 23.3 billion barrels of oil and condensates. About 16.8 billion barrels of those may never see the light of day if President Biden’s temporary bans on oil activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and on new lease sales on state-wide federal lands and waters are here to stay, Rystad Energy said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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