ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Energy giant ConocoPhillips on Monday announced new oil discoveries on Alaska’s North Slope at the end of their 2018 winter exploration program.
The company said three exploratory wells drilled in and around the far western side of the National Petroleum Reserve encountered oil, but it’s still trying to assess just how many barrels the new discoveries might hold.
According to ConocoPhillips Alaska president Joe Marushack, the company is planning another busy drilling program for next winter.
“Our program next year, we think, is going to be to appraise the results that we got this year before we finally know how to actually develop these resources,” Marushack said. “The results of this exploration program could progress into several billion dollars of development and, assuming we don't get any changes in the state fiscal system, we could have new jobs on the slope, and a lot of new revenue for the state, federal and local communities as well as the borough.”
In addition to the exploratory wells, the company also drilled three appraisal wells to further evaluate the Willow Discovery, which was announced last January. The company says the results support original estimates that the discovery holds about 300 million barrels of oil.
Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack said discoveries like these are crucial for Alaska because they could lead to more oil in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
“We have been able to maintain during the Walker administration 525,000 barrels a year and we’ve been able to reverse the trend in declining production, but we still have legacy fields which are in decline and so these new fields, these new areas of Alaska are critically important to backfill and also increase the level of production on the North Slope,” Mack said.