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Declining production.

Declining Production. Although oil production in Prudhoe Bay is declining, officials at BP Exploration (Alaska) say they expect to produce from the field until the year 2020. "After that, it depends on what happens to gas," says Mike Davidson, manager of Prudhoe Bay resource development. "Gas production could go on until the middle of the next century."

About 7 billion barrels have been recovered from Prudhoe Bay so far, and the field still has proven reserves of 4.57 billion barrels. In addition, there may be as many as 10 billion barrels more, which may not be technologically or economically feasible to recover.

Oil production has been hampered by falling reserves and a lack of facilities to compress and reinject natural gas. Some of the original wells drilled in 1977 produced in excess of 60 million barrels of crude; some of the wells being drilled now are expected to produce less than a million barrels. Davidson says a two-part gas handling expansion program, scheduled for 1993 and 1995 and costing about $1.5 billion, is expected to increase production.

The Prudhoe Bay field is producing 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, 5 million cubic feet of gas, and 970,000 barrels of water from 889 producing wells. The number of wells is expected to increase to 1,008 over time. Almost all of the water and gas is reinjected to maintain the pressure needed to force the oil to the surface and to prevent land from settling.

Davidson says enhanced oil-recovery techniques using water or water and gas mixtures, or low-tension polymers as solvents, should help to wash out otherwise unrecoverable oil trapped in sand and porous rock. He also says use of non-conventional high angle and horizontal wells, as well closer spacing of drilling sites, will aid in oil recovery.
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Title Annotation:oil production in Prudhoe Bay
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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