ConocoPhillips reports strongest Alaska profits since mid-2014

With oil prices on the rise and operating costs down, ConocoPhillips on Thursday reported its best quarterly period in Alaska in more than three years, with income of $445 million from production at its North Slope oil fields.

The top oil producer in Alaska, ConocoPhillips also performed strongly worldwide, squeezing more from its valuable crude oil production and other commodities, according to company executives during a call with investors.

Officials during the call highlighted recently announced Alaska discoveries as potential future revenue generators for the company.

[North Slope oil prices have hit $70: What that means for Alaska]

The adjusted net income of $445 million comes after a period of steadily rising oil prices, helping boost profits for producers.

ConocoPhillips has also driven down operating costs in Alaska, said an email from Amy Burnett, a ConocoPhillips Alaska spokeswoman.

The company's quarterly adjusted net earnings haven't been this high in Alaska since the late summer 2014, when ConocoPhillips reported earning $473 million from Alaska production. The quarterly earnings were often below $100 million in 2015 and 2016.


In the first three months of 2018, ConocoPhillips's estimated taxes and royalties owed to Alaska total $298 million, Burnett's email said.

The company also invested $663 million in Alaska during the period, with $263 million in exploratory drilling and capital projects and $400 million to acquire Anadarko's ownership in western North Slope assets, the email said.

Al Hirshberg, an executive vice president, said during the call with investors Thursday that it increasingly appears the Willow discovery could support its own production facility, though the company is still weighing that question.

If built, the facility could handle oil from Willow and from another discovery to the west, called West Willow, he said.

Willow could produce 100,000 barrels of oil daily starting as early as 2023, the company has said.

[ConocoPhillips claims North American record for horizontal drilling]

The company's Alaska oil production was 190,000 barrels of oil daily during the first quarter of 2018, representing about one-third of all Alaska oil production.

ConocoPhillips is the only producer on the North Slope to separate out its Alaska earnings in quarterly reports, a requirement of federal regulators.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or