ConocoPhillips announced this week that it made three new oil discoveries on the Western North Slope in Alaska. Showing a promising future for the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Conoco was quiet on details about the discoveries, including how much oil was found. But in the company’s press release, the company called the results of this winter’s drilling season “promising.” Conoco drilled a total of six wells this winter, one of its most adventurous exploration efforts in years. All six encountered oil. Five were drilled in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which is managed by the federal government.
In addition to the wells indicating the three new discoveries would be promising, Conoco spokesperson Natalie Lowman said the other wells increased the company’s confidence in last year’s Willow oil discovery. When talking about the Willow Discovery, which Conoco announced in January of 2018, David Houseknecht of the U.S. Geological Survey said, “It’s pretty significant, it ranks up there with all but the top four or five oil fields in Alaska.” Conoco believes the Willow Discovery could go a long way toward replenishing the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Current estimates show the Willow Discovery could produce up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day, roughly a fifth of the amount currently moving down the trans-Alaska pipeline.
Based on the results of this discovery, Lowman said the company plans another active drilling season in 2019. While Conoco has asked the federal government to make more land in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska available for oil leasing, the Obama administration put roughly half the Reserve off limits. The Bureau of Land Management is currently holding a public comment period on Conoco’s third proposed oil development in the Reserve, called the Greater Mooses Tooth 2 project. Upcoming public meetings are in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Nuiqsut.