Slope output dips on scheduled maintenance

Photo/Adam Elliott/For the Journal

North Slope production dipped sharply in late August due to production facility and pipeline maintenance temporary shutdowns, but is now returning to more normal mid-summer levels.

In the large Prudhoe Bay field, which accounts for about half of total Slope oil production, Gathering Station 1 and Flow Station 1 in the field have been down for scheduled maintenance “turnarounds,” BP spokeswoman Dawn Patience said. Work has been underway since June and will continue to mid-September, she said. BP is the operator of the field.

Prudhoe production dropped below typical summer output of 250,000 barrels per day in mid-August and dipped to 36,313 barrels on Aug. 21, according to state Department of Revenue production data.

“The turnaround times vary but are staggered to take advantage of other temporary facility or pipeline shutdowns and the milder Arctic climate,” during summer, Patience said. “These temporary facility shutdowns allow workers to safely work around pipes, flares and other equipment. The work is planned to minimize production impacts as much as possible.”

In another development, ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Natalie Lowman said the Alpine field was shut down for maintenance Aug. 20 and that production resumed Aug. 25.

Alpine production typically averages 45,000 barrels per day in summer but dropped to 1,275 barrels Aug. 21 and one barrel per day on Aug. 22 and 23, with output ramping up to 9,503 barrels Aug. 24.

The facility work was also scheduled to coincide with a 36-hour maintenance shutdown planned for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System on Aug. 21 and 22. The TAPS shutdown is the last long-duration suspension of operations for the summer, according to Alyeska spokeswoman Michelle Egan. Short-term suspensions are planned but those will not affect production, she said.

Production overall through Aug. 24 of 413,111 barrels per day is up from the August 2014 average of 395,728 barrels per day, the Revenue Department data indicates.

Summer production on the Slope is typically lower than winter output because production facilities perform somewhat less efficiently in warmer temperatures in summer and at peak efficiency, and output, during the cold winter season.

11/24/2016 - 9:51am