BP to start production of heavy Alaska oil

BP announced that it’s close to finish the founding of a $100 million facility that will be the site of the company’s first commercially produced heavy oil from Alaska’s North Slope.

“The construction is located at BP’s Milne Point field, and will process oil produced from four wells that will tap the vast but elusive layer of heavy oil above some of the North Slope’s conventional oil reserves,” said Steve Rinehart, spokesman for BP’s exploration unit in the state.

Rinehart did not mention any further details on the rates produced from the four wells, but said the production is scheduled to start in May.

“It’s important, we believe, to start this production soon, while there is still light-oil production sufficient to mix with the heavy oil so that it will flow easily through pipelines,”

The reports show The North Slope holds about 20 billion barrels of heavy oil, a resource not counted in any companies’ reserves because it is not yet considered technically recoverable with methods used in the region. The heavy oil, commonly described as having the thickness of cold honey, lies at shallow depths above major reservoirs like Kuparuk that have long fed North Slope production.

Rinehart added that heavy oil is currently being produced in significant amounts in regions such as Alberta and Venezuela, it has long been considered technically off-limits in Alaska because it cannot be recovered through methods currently used on the North Slope, but BP hopes that recovery methods elsewhere in the world will prove effective at heavy-oil production in Alaska.

“Recovery might be 10 percent; the other side of it is 10 percent of a 20 billion barrel deposit is significant,” according to BP experts.


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