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December 08, 2003 --- Vol. 9, No. 115December 2003

Both Northstar and Alpine back on line

Northstar came back on line yesterday, with full production expected today, and Alpine, where production had dropped by half last week, has resolved its mechanical issues and is ramping up today.

BP Exploration (Alaska)’s Daren Beaudo told Petroleum News this afternoon that the transformer swap at Northstar went well and production rates started coming up Sunday. As of 6 a.m. this morning, Beaudo said, production was at full rates, some 76,000 barrels per day.

ConocoPhillips Alaska spokeswoman Dawn Patience said the mechanical issues at Alpine, a problem with one of the oil separators, had been resolved. Alpine is ramping up today, Patience said, with a target of 100,000 barrels. The field dropped to about 50,000 bpd Dec. 1.

BP had to bring in a helicopter from Oregon to swap out transformers. The helicopter arrived in Anchorage Dec. 4 on its way to the North Slope.

Production began to drop at Northstar Nov. 27 and went to zero on the 28th. Beaudo told Petroleum News that until the replacement transformer could be moved from Prudhoe Bay to Northstar Island, BP would be operating at about 5,000 barrels a day — enough to keep the lines warm.

Lease buyback will be state’s last resort, governor says

The governor’s office issued a release this afternoon, clarifying comments made by the governor on Thursday on buyback of coalbed methane leases.

The statement said that Gov. Frank Murkowski was clear that consideration of the state buying back any coalbed methane leases in the Mat-Su and on the Kenai Peninsula would only be after all other options are exhausted.

“The state will consider buybacks of shallow natural gas leases only as a last resort,” Murkowski said at a press conference Dec. 4 in response to a question.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is engaged in crafting rules for coalbed methane development and the governor’s office said the state remains committed to the development of coalbed methane, both for use in Southcentral Alaska and as a significant source of rural energy.

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