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Trans-Alaska pipeline operator ends cut to North Slope oil production

A segment of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline photographed along the Richardson Highway between Glennallen and Delta Junction on May 13, 2020. (Marc Lester / ADN)

The operator of the trans-Alaska pipeline announced Thursday that it will end its temporary cut to Alaska North Slope oil production as global demand begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move by Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. follows reductions that began last month, peaking at 75,000 barrels of oil daily, as oil stockpiles grew worldwide. The company foresaw a period of high inventory at its Valdez tank farm in late May.

In a separate move, ConocoPhillips, Alaska’s largest oil producer, confirmed Thursday that it is sticking with plans for June to cut about half its Alaska production, or about 100,000 barrels daily.

Alyeska will end its reductions at noon Friday, the pipeline operator said in a statement.

Oil production in Alaska had dropped from more than 500,000 barrels daily to about 420,000 barrels more than a week ago, before beginning to rise again. Production reached 443,000 barrels on Tuesday, the state reported.

Alyeska decided to end the curtailment after reviewing current and projected inventory, schedules of oceangoing tankers and oil production levels, the company said.

“Delivering every barrel possible is good news for TAPS, and great news for Alaska, the North Slope and domestic energy supply,” Brigham McCown, Alyeska president, said in the statement. “We’re committed to doing our part in getting the country back on its feet.”

Correction: An earlier headline on this story incorrectly said Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. is the owner of the trans-Alaska pipeline. It is the operator, not the owner.

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