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September 30, 2008 --- Vol. 14, No. 95September 2008

BP successfully tests heavy oil production at Milne Point

BP’s initial test of heavy oil production from the Ugnu at Milne Point S-Pad has proved successful, company spokesman Steve Rinehart told Petroleum News today. The test well brought sand and oil to the surface with a peak rate of about 120 barrels per day. Around 700 barrels of oil with a consistency of chocolate syrup had been mixed with conventional Milne Point crude and passed down the trans-Alaska pipeline by the end of the test on Sept. 15.

“The well brought oil and sand to the surface. It did it reliably, sustainably,” Rinehart said. “… It was a welcome discovery that the reservoir itself appears very robust.”

That suggests that the reservoir could sustain higher production rates, he said.

This initial test was intended to determine whether a procedure called cold heavy oil production with sand, or CHOPS, could produce heavy oil at Milne Point. CHOPS involves using a downhole pump with an augur-like rotor to suck a mixture of sand and oil up the well, without applying any heat to the reservoir formation — the Ugnu sands that form the heavy oil reservoir lie 4,200 feet below the surface and are relatively unconsolidated. Once at the surface, the sand is separated from the oil by heating the mixture of sand and oil in a tank.

“This was a success and we are going forward with the multi-well, multi-year (test) program,” Rinehart.

Economically viable heavy oil production at Milne Point will depend on the results of that further testing but could open the way to large-scale production of some of the estimated 20 billion barrels of heavy oil in place under the central North Slope.

See full story in Oct. 5 issue of Petroleum News, available to subscribers online at noon, Friday, Oct. 3 at www.PetroleumNews.com

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