On April 20 BP started test production of heavy oil from the Ugnu sands on the North Slope, using a horizontal well that is part of a $100 million heavy oil test facility at S Pad in the Milne Point field, Erik Hulm, BP Alaska heavy oil appraisal team leader, told the Alaska Geological Society yesterday.
Heavy oil, with a consistency of honey or molasses, will not flow unaided up a well or through a pipeline — BP is testing the use of a technique in which it pumps a slurry of oil and sand to the surface from the unconsolidated sands of the Ugnu, with the sand then being separated from the oil at the surface in a heated tank.
With billions of barrels of heavy oil known to be in place at relatively shallow depths below the North Slope, the potential for heavy oil development is very large. However, with the production characteristics and economics of the heavy oil resource in northern Alaska being unknown, BP is conducting a pilot production test, to determine whether or how to progress to a full-scale commercial development.
See more in May 1 issue, available online at 11 a.m. Friday, April 29, at www.PetroleumNews.com