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Vol. 14, No. 41 Week of October 11, 2009
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

September North Slope production up 18%

BP completes planned turnarounds for year with work at Northstar, where production returned to average rates in early October

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

September Alaska North Slope production averaged 676,664 barrels per day, up 18 percent from an August average of 572,967 bpd.

The BP Exploration (Alaska)-operated Northstar field averaged 9,474 bpd in September, down 58 percent from an August average of 22,675 bpd, but returned to normal production levels in early October.

Planned turnaround work at Northstar — the last turnaround of the year on the North Slope — began in early September, BP Exploration (Alaska) spokesman Steve Rinehart told Petroleum News. The original work was completed as planned, he said, but during startup the need arose for some additional work; that work has been completed, he said Oct. 5.

The field averaged more than 20,000 bpd in early September. Production declined to fewer than 16,000 barrels Sept. 4 and for 10 days the field had no production. Northstar began moving oil again Sept. 15, but stayed below 16,000 bpd for the remainder of the month. By Oct. 3, however, production had topped 20,000 bpd at Northstar and was above 23,000 bpd the next few days, returning to production levels the field saw in August.

North Slope maintenance projects are frequently scheduled for the summer to coincide with planned turnarounds by Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and because of the weather.

It is easier and safer to do this planned maintenance in the warm months, Rinehart said: “Production is typically lower in the summer, so summer maintenance has the least impact on production, and people and equipment can be moved around more safely than in winter.”

Prudhoe up 53%

Production from the BP-operated Prudhoe Bay field averaged 344,805 bpd in September, up 52.6 percent from an August average of 225,949 bpd. The largest month-over-month change at Prudhoe was completion of planned summer maintenance turnarounds at the field, where major work began in early June with 200 to 250 employees and contractors working through a series of maintenance projects including month-long projects at Gathering Center 2, Flow Station 2 and Gathering Center 1; and a two- to three-week project at Gathering Center 3 with work done primarily by people based at that facility.

Prudhoe includes satellite production from Aurora, Borealis, Midnight Sun, Orion and Polaris.

The BP-operated Endicott field averaged 13,988 bpd in September, up 5.9 percent from an August average of 13,206 bpd.

Production from BP’s Milne Point field averaged 28,739 bpd in September, up 5.4 percent from an August average of 27,277 bpd. Milne Point production includes Sag River and Schrader Bluff.

The ConocoPhillips Alaska-operated Kuparuk River field averaged 150,446 bpd in September, up 0.7 percent from an August average of 149,353. Kuparuk production includes Tabasco, Tarn, Meltwater and West Sak, as well as production from the Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska-operated Oooguruk field. Latest production by field records from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are for August and show Oooguruk production averaging some 8,654 bpd.

ConocoPhillips did maintenance at Kuparuk and Alpine this summer, with Alpine work scheduled in June and work at Kuparuk Central Processing Facility 2, which also began in June, completed July 23.

Alpine, Lisburne down

Two North Slope fields had drops in production from August to September, Alpine and Lisburne.

The BP-operated Lisburne field averaged 29,084 bpd in September, down 4.3 percent from an August average of 30,394 bpd.

The ConocoPhillips-operated Alpine field averaged 100,128 bpd in September, down 3.8 percent from an August average of 104,113 bpd. Alpine production includes satellites at Fiord, Nanuq and Qannik.

The temperature at Pump Station 1 on the North Slope averaged 36.8 degrees Fahrenheit in September compared to 45.8 F in August.

In Cook Inlet, production averaged 3,323 bpd in September, up 9.3 percent from an August average of 3,041 bpd, with production still down from previous levels of more than 10,000 bpd following closure of the Drift River Terminal due to volcanic activity at Mount Redoubt last spring. The most recent data by field from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission shows some production from all Cook Inlet oil fields with the exception of Redoubt Shoal.

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