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Vol. 12, No. 1 Week of January 07, 2007
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Alaska North Slope production breaks 800,000 bpd barrier

Alaska North Slope production averaged 808,129 barrels per day in December, the first time since June it has broken the 800,000 bpd average. This is an increase of 21 percent from a November average of 667,250 bpd, with all fields showing an increase over November rates.

For the first time since September, weather was not a factor in production.

November ANS production was down 9.5 percent due to bad weather in Valdez, which slowed tanker loading in mid-month, forcing Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. to slow oil flow in the trans-Alaska pipeline, which hit a low of 267,804 bpd Nov. 20.

October production was dropped by high winds and rain on the North Slope which knocked out power to Prudhoe Bay, combined with flooding in the Valdez area which affected fiber-optic communication lines along the pipeline.

Prudhoe Bay production levels for December are getting back to those before the field was partially shut down in August after leaks were found in transit lines on the eastern side of the field.

December ANS production was also bolstered by Alpine.

That field, the farthest west on the slope, with two satellites — Fiord and Nanuq — now online, averaged 134,867 bpd, a new record. Fiord came online in August and is expected to peak at 22,500 bpd in 2008. Nanuq production began Nov. 27, so December is the first full month of production for that satellite, which is expected to have peak production of 15,000 bpd in 2008.

The monthly total at the ConocoPhillips Alaska-operated field would have been higher, but for an emergency detector warning Dec. 18 which triggered a plant shutdown. The Alaska Department of Revenue reported that nothing was found and the plant was back up to its full rate within 12 hours. The field averaged well above 130,000 except for Dec. 18 and 19; peak production for the month was 140,581 bpd on Dec. 4. December Alpine production was up 29.7 percent from a November average of 104,005 bpd.

Greater Prudhoe averaging more than 411,000 bpd

BP Exploration (Alaska)-operated Prudhoe Bay averaged 361,175 bpd, up 26.7 percent from a November average of 285,000 bpd. Production from Prudhoe proper includes the eastern and western operating areas and the field’s western satellites, Midnight Sun, Aurora, Polaris, Borealis and Orion. Lisburne, also operated by BP, averaged 20,031 bpd, up 14 percent from a November average of 17,575 bpd. It includes Point McIntyre and Niakuk on the eastern side of the field.

Combining the two yields a greater Prudhoe average for December of 381,206 bpd.

However, Revenue’s figures for Endicott include Prudhoe crude because of bypass use of the Endicott pipeline until Prudhoe eastern operating area transit lines are replaced. Probably some 30,000 bpd of the 50,000 bpd showing for Endicott is from Prudhoe (see Endicott discussion below). Adding that in, the greater Prudhoe average becomes 411,206 bpd.

Combined December Prudhoe production (Prudhoe proper, Lisburne and, since mid-October, some 30,000 bpd of Endicott crude) is the highest since February, when the field averaged 439,614 bpd, with Lisburne at 39,231 bpd, and Prudhoe 400,383 bpd.

Endicott line includes bypass

Revenue’s figures show the BP-operated Endicott field averaging 50,170 bpd in December, up 14.6 percent from a November average of 43,782 bpd.

But Endicott is transporting some 30,000 bpd of Prudhoe Bay oil coming from a bypass from Flow Station 2. Endicott’s mid-year 2006 average production was some 20,000 bpd. Revenue does not provide current bypass figures for the Endicott pipeline, but said in October that the Flow Station 2 bypass, scheduled to start Oct. 15, would allow transport of approximately 32,000 bpd of Prudhoe Bay oil through the Endicott pipeline.

Production figures from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are not yet available for December; November figures show about 15,000 bpd from Endicott (including Badami) in November, which could make the bypass amount higher than 30,000 bpd.

BP’s Milne Point field averaged 32,498 bpd in December, up 14.8 percent from a November average of 28,313 bpd. Milne Point production includes Schrader Bluff viscous oil production.

ConocoPhillips-operated Kuparuk averaged 164,025 bpd in December, up 13 percent from November. Kuparuk includes production from West Sak, Tabasco, Tarn, Meltwater and Palm.

BP-operated Northstar averaged 45,363 bpd in December, up 4.4 percent from a November average of 43,447 bpd. Revenue said Northstar was shut in for two and a half days for compressor repair. The field dropped from production averaging 50,000 bpd early in the month to zero production Dec. 9-10, produced 16,116 barrels Dec. 11 before reaching normal levels again Dec. 12.

The temperature at Pump Station 1 on the North Slope averaged 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit for December, with a range from plus 28.9 degrees F to minus 27.9 degrees F.

Cook Inlet production averaged 16,237 bpd, down 1.8 percent from a November average of 16,528 bpd.

—Kristen Nelson

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