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ANCHORAGE - Phillips Petroleum Co. has struck oil on five of six wells drilled in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and geologists believe the wells have hit three separate accumulations of oil and gas.
Phillips Alaska Inc. President Kevin Meyers won't say how much oil the company expects to find. But he said the company hopes the pools will contain as much oil as the nearby Alpine field, which holds an estimated 429 million barrels. Environmental and logistical studies will be conducted in the area west of Prudhoe Bay this summer, with more drilling next winter.
"We're confident the discoveries will prove to be of commercial quantities," Meyers told a Monday meeting of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.
The wells, 15 to 25 miles southwest of Alpine, are the first strikes in the federal reserve since it was reopened to drilling in 1999. That close to Alpine's facilities, development should be fairly easy.
Phillips holds a 78 percent share of the wells, while Anadarko Petroleum Corp. holds 22 percent, identical to the split at Alpine.
One NPR-A well tested at 1,550 barrels of oil a day, plus 26.5 million cubic feet of natural gas, Meyers said.
He said Alpine itself was producing well above the company's targets, with the field reaching 90,000 barrels of oil daily two weeks ago. Alpine, which began producing Nov. 15, was expected to peak at 80,000 barrels a day.
Meyers said the company's production from the North Slope was increasing this year, not decreasing as the trend has been in the fields the last decade or so.
This year, he said, production will increase 10 percent to nearly 400,000 barrels of oil and natural gas liquids.
On the same day the new find in the petroleum reserve was announced, the Bureau of Land Management announced a second lease sale in the northeast corner of the reserve, near the recent find. The sale, scheduled for June of 2002, will reoffer about 3 million acres that didn't receive bids in the 1999 lease sale. The 1999 sale drew $105 million in bids on 967,000 acres.
The lease revenues, as well as royalties from NPR-A, are split evenly between the federal government and the state of Alaska.