North Slope oil production on the rise

Kristen Nelson

With the exception of Endicott and Northstar, production at all Alaska North Slope oil fields was up in September over August. And August production was up over July as scheduled maintenance projects wound up.

North Slope production averaged 608,680 barrels per day in September, up 13.3 percent from an August average of 537,275 barrels per day (compared with the July average of 462,407).

The largest volume increase was at the BP Exploration (Alaska)-operated Prudhoe Bay field, where production averaged 306,696 barrels per day in September, up 23.7 percent from the August average.

Prudhoe Bay production includes satellites at Aurora, Borealis, Midnight Sun, Orion and Polaris.

The largest percentage increase month over month was at the BP- operated Lisburne field, which was up 28.9 percent.

Except where noted, volumes are from the Alaska Department of Revenue's Tax Division, which tracks oil production by major production centers and provides daily production totals and monthly averages.

Kuparuk, Alpine up

Production at the Conoco Phillips Alaska-operated Kuparuk River field averaged 137,968 barrels per day in September, up 3.6 percent from August.

Kuparuk production includes satellite production from Tabasco, Tarn, Meltwater and West Sak, and production from the Pioneer Natural Resources- operated Oooguruk and the Eni-operated Nikaitchuq fields.

Revenue's Tax Division does not split out volumes for Nikaitchuq and Oooguruk in its published figures, but those volumes are available from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on a month-delay basis.

The Conoco Phillips-operated Alpine field averaged 83,509 barrels per day in September, up 2 percent from August. Alpine includes satellite production from Fiord, Nanuq and Qannik.

Milne, Endicott, Northstar down

BP's Milne Point field averaged 22,312 barrels per day in September, down 0.45 percent from August.

The BP-operated Endicott field averaged 12,359 barrels per day in September, down 1.6 percent from August.

Endicott includes production from the Badami field on the eastern North Slope.

Production at the BP-operated Northstar field averaged 12,586 barrels per day in September, down 7.4 percent from an August average of 13,597.

Cook Inlet production up

Cook Inlet production averaged 13,126 barrels per day in September, up 9.5 percent from an August average of 11,991 barrels per day. The September Cook Inlet volume is the highest Cook Inlet production has been since it averaged 13,438 barrels per day in October of 2008.

Cook Inlet production has been in decline for more than four decades and the most recent eruptions at Redoubt Volcano, in March 2009, caused closure of the Drift River Terminal and a further drop in production. Inlet producers solved logistics issues for shipping west side production, and volumes stabilized.

Cook Inlet Energy, which acquired assets of Pacific Energy Resources in Cook Inlet in late 2009, restarted production from the Osprey platform this summer. Production from the platform was shut down by the previous owner in mid-2009.

AOGCC August figures show Cook Inlet production coming from Beaver Creek (4,373 barrels for the month); Granite Point (53,710 barrels); McArthur River (119,100 barrels); Middle Ground Shoal (76,245 barrels); Redoubt Shoal (18,477 barrels); Swanson River (16,636 barrels); Trading Bay (14,459 barrels); and West McArthur River (28,730 barrels), a total of 331,730 barrels for August.

North Slope crude oil production peaked in 1988 at 2.1 million barrels per day; Cook Inlet crude peaked in 1970 at more than 227,000 barrels per day.

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