Alaska has long been a major U.S. oil-producing region. Although North Slope production is declining, BP continues to invest in Alaska oil and gas resources. Today the Trans Alaska Pipeline System carries less than one-fourth of what it did at its peak of 2 million barrels a day. BP is actively pursuing new ways to develop remaining, more challenging North Slope resources including viscous oil, light oil from smaller, more remote fields, and natural gas.
Typically less than half the oil from a reservoir is recovered, but — using new technology — BP has demonstrated that it can improve on that recovery rate. BP is exploring Alaska’s resource opportunities with technologies such as 3-D seismic imaging, innovative drilling techniques, enhanced oil recovery and Bright Water™ polymer technology.
Safe and reliable operations continue to be the focus of BP's Alaska business. BP invests roughly $800 million annually to enhance safety and operational integrity in Alaska. BP has significantly increased spending on corrosion monitoring and prevention, such as in-line smart-pig inspections. Each year, BP conducts more than 110,000 pipeline inspections for corrosion under pipeline insulation and 160,000 total pipeline inspections (X-ray, ultrasound and visual) on the North Slope.
North Slope natural gas is one of the largest undeveloped resources in BP's global portfolio. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the discovered, technically recoverable natural gas on the North Slope to be about 35 trillion cubic feet.
At Prudhoe Bay, up to 8 billion cubic feet of natural gas are produced daily and injected back into the ground to maintain reservoir pressure and produce more oil. This injection has improved oil recovery and extended the life of the field beyond initial estimates. In addition, some components of the produced natural gas are used to make miscible injectant, which is used for enhanced oil recovery.
Other than the natural gas liquids that are shipped down the Trans Alaska Pipeline, there is no means to transport North Slope gas to markets. BP, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and TransCanada are working jointly with the state of Alaska to advance the LNG project, which will allow the state to move North Slope gas to global markets, creating up to 15,000 construction jobs and about 1,000 permanent jobs. The project now is in the preliminary engineering analysis phase.