OTC: Alaska would restore oil pipeline volumes

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, May 4
-- The state of Alaska is putting final touches on a plan to attract investment in order to restore trans-Alaska oil pipeline throughput to 1 million b/d within 10 years.

Alaska’s North Slope is still considered sparsely explored, said Daniel S. Sullivan, commissioner of the state Department of Natural Resources. The trans-Alaska oil pipeline has shipped more than 16 billion bbl since 1977, but the ANS and adjacent offshore areas are still lightly drilled.

For example, about 500 exploratory wells have been drilled in an ANS area the size of the state of Wyoming, where more than 19,000 wells have been drilled, Sullivan said May 4 in Houston during the Offshore Technology Conference. Alaska’s other main producing basin, Cook Inlet, is also considered to be underexplored, he said.

The pipeline has a capacity of slightly more than 2 million b/d, which was reached in 1988. But with declines at giant Prudhoe Bay field, Alaskan oil production had fallen to 628,000 b/d last month (OGJ, May 2, 2011, p. 133).

The state’s five-part plan starts with ensuring that Alaska has a globally competitive investment climate, Sullivan said. The state plans to streamline permitting by enacting statutory and regulatory reforms. Specifics haven’t been released.

The state will enact incentives to facilitate the next phase of ANS development, Sullivan said. That work will involve offshore and onshore heavy and viscous oil development, shale oil, and smaller pools of conventional oil and gas.

Alaska is one of a group of coastal states that seeks to improve liaison with federal agencies, Congress, and the president to promote constructive investment (OGJ Online, May 4, 2011).

Sullivan, who was Alaska’s attorney general until December 2010, noted that Alaska’s constitution provides for the maximization of the state’s natural resources.

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