Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
November 2023

Vol. 28, No.47 Week of November 19, 2023

Sidebar: ConocoPhillips moving ahead with Willow development

Alan Bailey

for Petroleum News

In a court filing in the appeal against Bureau of Land Management approval of ConocoPhillips' Willow oilfield development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, Connor Dunn, vice president of the Willow project, described work that has been conducted in conjunction with the project, and work that ConocoPhillips plans to conduct during the next two winter construction seasons. On-ground work has to be conducted during the winter freeze up, to prevent damage to the tundra.

Starting on April 3, 2023, following a court order denying a temporary restraining order, ConocoPhillips used the remainder of the 2022 to 2023 winter construction season to open a new gravel mine, build two miles of gravel road west from the Greater Mooses Tooth 2 pad, and start the construction of a subsistence boat ramp from the road to the Tinmiaqsiugvik River. Gravel on the new access road is being compacted, Dunn wrote.

Fabrication work in Texas on the Willow Operations Center modules began on April 26 and is still underway. The completed modules will be transported to the North Slope in 2024.

Pipe for pipeline vertical support members and saddles, and culverts for road crossings, are also being fabricated for installation in late 2023 and 2024. This year ConocoPhillips is making improvements to an existing gravel road, to enable the operations center modules to be transported to the Bear Tooth unit, where the oilfield is being developed. The company is also installing pipeline road crossings in the Kuparuk River unit for future Willow pipelines.

Work planned for upcoming winter

Depending on the weather, ConocoPhillips plans to resume surface disturbing work on Dec. 21. The company has executed contracts for in-field Willow work during the 2023 to 2024 ice road season, with many of the companies involved being affiliates of Alaska Native corporations -- approximately 1,200 contractor personnel are expected to be working on the project during the season, Dunn wrote.

Major construction work will include the installation of approximately 1,480 vertical and horizontal support members between Kuparuk Central Processing Facility 2 and the Alpine Central Facilities; the installation of seawater and diesel pipelines on these support members; the completion of the gravel road from GMT2 to the Willow Operations Center site; and the construction of other gravel roads, including a road between the operations center site and the site of the Willow Central Facilities. The work will also involve the construction of an airstrip access road and airstrip apron, and the installation of a bridge fabricated in Tacoma Washington for use on the Willow access road.

Similar level of activity in following winter

ConocoPhillips anticipates a similar level of activity during the 2024 to 2025 ice road season, including the installation of the operations center, the installation of an airstrip, the completion of the central facilities pad, the installation of two more bridges and the installation of a boat launch for Nuiqsut residents. There will also be installation of further pipeline support members and pipelines.

Through July 2023 ConocoPhillips had already invested about $925 million dollars in the Willow project and the company anticipates spending a further $903 million through to the end of the 2023 to 2024 construction season, Dunn wrote.


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