The U.S. federal government has selected a preferential development plan for the Willow oil project that is led by ConocoPhillips.
The AP reports that the project could boost Alaska’s oil production by 130,000 bpd. Over its estimated lifetime of 30 years, the cumulative production of the Willow project could reach about 590 million barrels of crude.
According to the development plan compiled by the Bureau of Land Management, the Willow project will involve the construction of roads, one or two airstrips, a gravel mine, and more than 300 miles of pipelines. It should contribute to reversing a decline in oil production from the North Slope, Alaska’s most prolific oil and gas region.
Early this year, S&P Global Platts reported that new digital technology had helped uncover as much as 1.5 billion barrels of crude in untapped resources in the North Slope. These are deposits that were known to be there, but the resources they held could not be mapped or measured, so the deposits were considered unproductive before digital tech--in the form of advanced 3D seismic surveys and new data processing techniques--came along.
Yet the North Slope is not the only oil-rich part of Alaska. Data from the Alaska Oil and Gas Association says the waters around the northernmost state are estimated to contain over 30 percent of the U.S. known recoverable oil and gas resources offshore. Developing these would go a long way towards supporting the state’s economy, which is heavily dependent on the oil industry and will likely contribute to the advancement of the energy dominance agenda of the Trump administration if meaningful discoveries are made.
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This month, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said the state administration expected a substantial boost to local oil production thanks to new projects.
“We’re excited by the prospects of new oil on the Slope. We’re anticipating 250-300,000 barrels of new oil by 2025-27, if we could stretch things out until then, we may be in pretty good shape.”
Besides the Willow project, which has estimated reserves of 400 to 750 million barrels of recoverable oil, another new development is the Pikka project, which should get its final investment decision next year. The Pikka project could produce up to 120,000 bpd of crude.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.