The U.S. Geological Survey said today that it estimates undiscovered petroleum resources in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska are significantly greater than the agency previously estimated, with technically recoverable, undiscovered oil beneath the federal part of NPR-A in a range of 5.9 billion to 13.2 billion barrels — a mean expected value of 9.3 billion barrels, compared to a range of 300 million to 5.4 billion in its 1980 assessment, with an expected mean of 2.1 billion barrels.
The agency said an estimated 1.3 billion to 5.6 billion of those technically recoverable oil resources are economically recoverable at market prices of $22-$30 per barrel.
Technically recoverable, undiscovered non-associated natural gas for the same area is in a likely range of 39.1 trillion to 83.2 trillion cubic feet, with a mean expected value of 59.7 tcf. USGS said the economic viability of the gas would depend on the availability of a natural gas pipeline to market.
USGS said its new assessment was prompted by rapidly evolving exploration activity focused on the Alpine trend, growing interest in Arctic natural gas resources and the fact that its previous assessment was completed in 1980.
The range of oil in the USGS 1980 assessment was 300 million to 5.4 billion barrels, with an expected mean of 2.1 billion, compared to 5.9 billion to 13.2 billion with a mean of 9.3 billion for the 2002 assessment.
The 1980 gas assessment was a range of 1.8 tcf to 20.4 tcf and an expected mean of 8.5 tcf, compared to the 2002 assessment of a range of 39.1 tcf to 83.2 tcf, and an expected mean of 59.7 tcf.
By comparison, the USGS estimated in 1998 that the entire coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (federal and Native lands and state offshore areas) has a range of 5.7 billion to 16 billion barrels of oil with an expected mean of 10.4 billion barrels. This total area is 1.9 million acres compared to 24.2 million total federal acres in NPR-A.
For the federal areas only, the ANWR 1002 area estimates are 4.3 billion to 11.8 billion barrels of oil, with an expected mean of 7.7 billion barrels (1.5 million acres) compared to a range of 5.9 billion barrels to 13.2 billion barrels with an expected mean of 9.3 billion barrels (22.5 million acres) in NPR-A.