Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
September 2017

Vol. 22, No. 37 Week of September 10, 2017

August ANS production up 8% from July

Average 469,403 bpd in August, up from 436,290 bpd, but down 2% from 478,842 bpd in August 2016; Cook Inlet up 18% July over June

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

Alaska North Slope crude oil production averaged 469,403 barrels per day in August, up 7.6 percent from a July average of 436,290 bpd, 33,113 bpd, but down 2 percent from an August 2016 average of 478,842 bpd.

All North Slope reporting areas showed month-over-month production increases, with large month-over-month percentage increases from BP Exploration (Alaska)-operated Lisburne, Hilcorp Alaska-operated Endicott and ConocoPhillips Alaska-operated Alpine. ConocoPhillips-operated Kuparuk River and BP-operated Prudhoe Bay, the North Slope’s largest fields, had smaller month-over-month percentage increases.

The largest percentage increase was at Lisburne, which includes production from Niakuk, Point McIntyre and Raven. The August Lisburne average was 23,329 bpd, up 45 percent from a July average of 14,950 bpd, an increase of 8,379 bpd, and also up, 26.1 percent, from an August 2016 average of 4,030 bpd. The July to August 2017 increase reflects a return to more normal production levels: Lisburne had a 36 percent production drop from June to July - the field was undergoing planned maintenance in July, and there was no production for a week during the middle part of July.

Information for the most recent month comes from the Alaska Department of Revenue’s Tax Division which consolidates North Slope oil production by major facilities rather than reporting individual fields, providing daily production and monthly averages. More detailed data, including Cook Inlet and individual North Slope fields and pools, is reported by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on a month-delay basis.

Endicott — the Point Thomson variable

Tax Division figures show that Endicott averaged 14,067 bpd in August, up 44.6 percent, 4,338 bpd, from a July average of 9,729 bpd, and up 249 percent from an August 2016 average of 4,030 bpd.

Endicott volumes include Eider, Minke and Sag Delta, as well as the Savant Alaska-operated Badami field and the ExxonMobil Production-operated Point Thomson field. Point Thomson appears to be the source of the largest variation in production, with August Endicott volumes ranging from 20,006 bpd Aug. 20 to 2,384 bpd Aug. 29 (compared to some 8,000 to 9,000 bpd for Endicott prior to Point Thomson startup in April 2016). The most recent Point Thomson-specific production reported by AOGCC, for July, showed an average of 1,739 bpd, down 41.9 percent from a June average of 2,993 bpd.

In its Aug. 29 decision on ExxonMobil’s Point Thomson initial production system and expansion project planning plan (see story in Sept. 3 edition of Petroleum News), the Alaska Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil and Gas said that while the 2012 settlement agreement between Point Thomson working interest owners and the state required production of 10,000 bpd, ExxonMobil has struggled to meet that volume. The division said it was told by ExxonMobil that production has been impacted by difficulties with the gas injection compressor - facilities at Point Thomson separate out condensate and send that by pipeline to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline while reinjecting natural gas into the field’s high-pressure reservoir. The gas must be compressed prior to reinjection.

The division said that ExxonMobil’s explanation of difficulties with the Point Thomson compressor suggests that many of the compressor issues may have been resolved, which spikes in daily Tax Division-reported August production from Endicott would seem to confirm.

AOGCC figures for Badami for July show that field, operated by Glacier Oil & Gas subsidiary Savant Alaska, averaged 867 bpd, up marginally from 865 bpd in June.

Alpine, Kuparuk, Prudhoe

All North Slope areas reported by the Tax Division showed month-over-month increases, with smaller percentage increases from the ConocoPhillips-operated Alpine and Kuparuk River fields, and the BP-operated Prudhoe Bay field.

Alpine averaged 66,761 bpd in August, up 13.9 percent, 8,157 bpd, from a July average of 58,604 bpd and up 17.4 percent from an August 2016 average of 56,864 bpd. Alpine volumes include satellite production from Fiord, Nanuq and Qannik, all part, with Alpine, of the Colville River unit.

The Kuparuk River unit averaged 138,638 bpd in August, up 4.3 percent, 5,737 bpd, from a July average of 132,901 bpd, and also up - by 2.8 percent - from an August 2016 average of 134,904 bpd.

Kuparuk includes satellite volumes from Meltwater, Tabasco, Tarn and West Sak, as well as from the Eni-operated Nikaitchuq field and from the Caelus Alaska-operated Oooguruk field. AOGCC data show that Nikaitchuq averaged 21,102 bpd in July, down 10.5 percent, 2,466 bpd, from a June average of 23,569 bpd, while Oooguruk averaged 9,831 bpd in July, down 22 percent, 2,770 bpd, from a June average of 12,601 bpd.

Prudhoe Bay field, the North Slope’s largest, averaged 226,608 bpd in August, up 3 percent, 6,502 bpd, from a July average of 220,106 bpd, but down 14.3 percent from an August 2016 average of 264,549 bpd.

Prudhoe volumes reported by the Tax Division include satellite production from Aurora, Borealis, Midnight Sun, Orion, Polaris, Sag River, Schrader Bluff and Ugnu, as well as from the Hilcorp-operated Milne Point and Northstar fields.

AOGCC data for July show Milne Point averaging 20,296 bpd for that month, up 12 percent, 2,168 bpd, from a June average of 18,129 bpd, while Northstar averaged 6,929 bpd in July, down 2.4 percent, 171 bpd, from a June average of 7,100 bpd.

Cook Inlet

AOGCC data show Cook Inlet crude oil production averaged 15,679 bpd in July, up 18.3 percent, 2,420 bpd, from a June average of 13,259 bpd.

Hilcorp’s Middle Ground Shoal field, shut-in in late March due to a leak in a fuel gas line, had no production again in July. Temporary repairs were made to the gas line in April, but in March the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration required inspection of the oil line delivering Middle Ground Shoal oil to Nikiski.

Hilcorp spokeswoman Lori Nelson told Petroleum News in May that smart pigging was scheduled for two lines in July, and after that, the company would begin coordinating with regulators on production restart. She said Sept. 5 that an update on the status of the field was expected in a couple of weeks.

Hilcorp’s Beaver Creek averaged 175 bpd in July, down 1.2 percent from a June average of 177 bpd.

Granite Point, also operated by Hilcorp, averaged 2,343 bpd in July, up 4.6 percent from a June average of 2,239 bpd.

BlueCrest’s Hansen field, the Cosmopolitan project, averaged 275 bpd in July, up 45.4 percent from a June average of 189 bpd.

Hilcorp’s McArthur River field, Cook Inlet’s largest, averaged 4,981 bpd in July, up 2.7 percent from a June average of 4,850 bpd.

Redoubt Shoal, operated by Glacier Oil & Gas, averaged 1,980 bpd in July, up 114 percent from a June average of 925 bpd.

Hilcorp’s Swanson River averaged 1,953 bpd in July, up 2 percent from a June average of 1,914 bpd, while Trading Bay, also operated by Hilcorp, averaged 2,089 bpd in July, up 5.7 percent from a June average of 1,976 bpd.

The Glacier Oil & Gas-operated West McArthur River field averaged 1,378 bpd in July, up 39.4 percent from a June average of 988 bpd.

ANS crude oil production peaked in 1988 at 2.1 million bpd; Cook Inlet crude oil production peaked in 1970 at more than 227,000 bpd.

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