Oil has begun flowing from the Northstar oil field in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska.
Interior Secretary Gale Norton and her senior advisor for Alaska affairs, Drue Pearce, announced first oil from the BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. project today.
Northstar thus becomes the first outer continental shelf development project since federal offshore leasing began in 1976 off Alaska, Interior Department officials said.
The Joint Pipeline Office told PNA that BP started oil flowing down the Northstar pipeline at 5 p.m. Oct. 31. JPO said BP anticipated oil arriving at pump station No. 1 at 6 p.m. Nov. 1.
"We're producing right now from a single well," BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell told PNA Nov. 1. He said the current rate is about 3,000 barrels a day, "and we will be ramping up production and bringing on another well when we think it's appropriate to do so."
Chappell said the production rate will climb over the next few days. There are currently two producing wells, one injection well and one disposal well completed at Northstar.
Production is expected to reach a peak rate of 65,000 barrels per day in first quarter 2002.
Northstar reserves are about 175 million barrels. Gas re-injection is occurring from startup to maintain reservoir pressure and improve recovery.
BP holds a 98 percent working interest in the field. Murphy Exploration & Production Co., a subsidiary of Murphy Oil Corp., holds a 2 percent working interest.
BP acquired the leases at Northstar in 1995 and the following year the Alaska Legislature approved amended terms for the leases. In 1999, the U.S. Corps of Engineers issued a construction permit and later that year the state issued a right of way permit for the pipelines. Island construction began in the winter of 1999-2000; the first modules were installed in 2000 and the large process modules this fall.