The U.S. Geological Survey has published a new assessment of economically recoverable, undiscovered oil and natural gas in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Following a 2010 USGS assessment of technically recoverable NPR-A oil and gas, in which the agency substantially reduced its expectations for oil resources, USGS now views NPR-A as primarily a gas province and says that the viable development of the region depends on the construction of a North Slope gas line for delivering gas to market.
The viability of NPR-A gas also depends on the market price of gas in the Lower 48.
If a gas line comes to fruition and gas can be delivered from NPR-A to the new line within 10 years of gas discovery, about 18 trillion cubic feet of NPR-A gas could be produced at price of $8 per thousand cubic feet, the report says. At a price of $12 per thousand cubic feet, 40 trillion cubic feet of gas might be viable. If access to a North Slope gas line were delayed by a further 10 years from gas discovery, those economically viable volumes drop to 7 trillion cubic feet and 28 trillion cubic feet respectively.
The USGS analysts assume that oil exploration in NPR-A would only occur as a spinoff from gas exploration. However, if NPR-A exploration proceeds, 273 million barrels of as-yet undiscovered oil might viably be developed at an oil price of $72 per barrel, with that volume increasing to about 500 million barrels at $90 per barrel, USGS says.
See more in May 8 issue, available online at 11 a.m. Friday, May 6, at www.PetroleumNews.com