Oil & Natural Gas Projects
Exploration and Production Technologies
Alaska North Slope Oil and Gas Resources Assessment
DE-AC26-04NT41817, RDSTsk41817.222.01.01.002, and FEW 4633-01
This project was developed to support the goals of the NETL Oil and Gas Program
targeted with the creation of the Arctic Energy Office. The focus of the program
is to develop an in-state resource to expand and coordinate arctic-related RD&D
in energy technology in two primary categories: Fossil Energy-to promote research,
development, and deployment of oil recovery, gas-to-liquids, and natural gas
production and transportation technologies; and Remote Power-to promote research,
development, and deployment of electric power technologies in arctic climates,
including fossil, wind, geothermal, fuel cells, and small hydroelectric facilities
The project goal is to provide a detailed assessment and analysis of Alaska
North Slope (ANS) oil and gas resources and the interrelated technical, economic,
and environmental factors controlling the development of those resources. The
project was awarded to RDS based on previous ANS oil and gas resource studies
performed by RDS/SAIC and INEEL staff in 1991, 1993, and 1995.
Science Applications International Corp.
Idaho National Laboratory
Idaho Falls, ID
Input was provided to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) under
the Arctic Council on behalf of the U.S. Department of State for use in the
AMAP chapter on Oil and Gas Development in the Arctic describing the history
and status of U.S. arctic oil and gas development. Most of the assessment and
analysis described in Tasks 1, 2, and 3 has been completed and is in review
for issuing a draft report.
The results will provide a source of detailed information for planning and decision-making
by the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal and state resource and regulatory
agencies in order to improve the prospects for continued development of Alaska
North Slope (ANS) oil and gas through effective public policy.
The Alaska North Slope has been a major U.S. oil production province since production
was initiated in Prudhoe Bay field in 1976. ANS oil production has decreased
to just under 1 million barrels per day in 2004 from 2.04 million barrels per
day in 1988 (falling to 17 percent of total U.S. crude oil production from about
25 percent). Production is projected to remain about 1 million barrels per day
through 2010 (see chart). The downward production trend has been dominated by
the continuing decline of Prudhoe Bay production, but this decline is being
partially offset by continued development of onshore and offshore fields near
the existing infrastructure and development of projected resources in the National
Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) and Beaufort Sea. Technology advances in the
last 10 years, such as 3-D seismic and extended-reach and multilateral drilling,
have made numerous small satellite fields near the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River
units economically viable. Alpine field in the Colville River Unit and the offshore
Northstar field are examples of stand-alone fields that have been developed
with advanced technology for drilling and production and reduction of environmental
impacts. The discovery of Alpine field and the play type it represents is in
large part responsible for the recent increase in reserves estimated for NPR-A.
These developments have slowed the decline of ANS production, but continued
access to federal lands and aggressive leasing and development are essential
to maintain the viability of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and other infrastructure
in the long term to support future development.
No ANS natural gas has been sold except for local use on the North Slope. The
recoverable natural gas is estimated to be 26 trillion cubic feet (TCF) for
Prudhoe Bay field and 8 TCF for Point Thomson field. Estimates for additional
recoverable natural gas in Arctic Alaska are over 150 TCF and will be described
in the report. Produced gas is being reinjected into Prudhoe Bay field at a
rate of about 8.7 billion cubic feet per day. This injection has had a positive
impact on recovery efficiency in the Prudhoe Bay Unit. In addition, miscible
injectant, a combination of methane and natural gas liquids stripped from the
produced natural gas, has been used effectively for enhanced oil recovery in
Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River oilfields. Use of miscible injectant for enhancing
recovery from the huge heavy oil resource overlying the Kuparuk River Unit (25
to 30 billion barrels OOIP, or original-oil-in-place) is expected to be economically
feasible when coupled with new technology for multilateral horizontal wells
and new completion technology.
The project scope will include currently known onshore and offshore fields (developed
and undeveloped), development of heavy oil production in West Sak and Ugnu,
and prospective development areas such as NPR-A, the Central North Slope and
Foothills area, and the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
In prospective development areas, estimated characteristics, locations, and
economic potential of the undiscovered oil and gas resources on ANS state, federal,
and native lands will be determined using the latest available geological data
and analytic reservoir engineering calculations. Development of smaller fields
and development by independents hinge on infrastructure and facility-sharing
being available at reasonable costs. The interaction of infrastructure, environmental
regulations, advanced technology development, and development of a gas pipeline
on the future viability of ANS oil and gas production will be evaluated and
described. Study results also will be used as a core contribution to a larger
study commissioned by AMAP.
The project includes three interrelated tasks:
- Perform a comprehensive review, assessment, and description of the ANS oil
and gas resource base.
- Perform a technical and economic analysis of the producing fields and future
oil and gas developments (known and future potential), based on location.
Evaluate the impacts of future development across the North Slope (including
NPR-A and ANWR 1002) and the technical and economic impact of major gas sales
options on currently producing ANS oilfields and future gas and oilfield developments.
- Document and evaluate the environmental and regulatory issues that control
and influence oil and gas exploration and development on the North Slope (INL
The project will be completed in the 4th quarter of CY 2005. A first draft for
review was completed on schedule on July 31, 2005.
Alaska North Slope historical and forecast production (Alaska Department of
Natural Resources 2004 Annual Report)
An example of modern oil field development on Alaska's North Slope.
Project Start: June 2004
Project End: December 2005
DOE Contribution: $650,000
Performer Contribution: $369,000, RDS, (36% of total)
NETL - Brent Sheets (phone; 907 452 2559 email: Brent.Sheets@netl.doe.gov)
Science Applications International Corporation - Charles Thomas (phone: 907
271 1550 FAX: 907 271 3623 email: Charles.Thomas@saic.com).
Idaho National Laboratory - Gregory J. White (phone: 208 526 9501; email: email@example.com).