Alaska’s Arctic Offshore: Industry Activity and Interest is High!

  • From 2005-2010 the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) saw a resurgence of leasing activity. Industry spent over $2 ¾ billion in acquiring Federal Arctic leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
  • The most recently published data indicates that technically recoverable oil and gas resources in these two areas exceed 42 billion barrels of oil equivalent. For some context, Prudhoe Bay, the largest oilfield in North America, has produced some 12.5 billion barrels of oil since production began in 1977.
  • Industry has a long history of activity in the Arctic offshore.
    • There has been seismic activity in these waters for over forty years
    • In the mid-1980s more than 30,000 miles of 2D data were acquired in a single year
  • Since 1979 there have been thirteen Arctic lease sales that resulted in awarding 1794 leases. Currently there are 43 active leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.
  • There have been 35 exploration wells drilled in Arctic OCS waters, 30 of these in the Beaufort Sea and 5 in the Chukchi Sea.
  • Oil has been produced from the Federal/State unit at the Northstar field since 2001 and development at the Liberty Field is continuing to move forward.
  • A decision to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope will provide an outlet for OCS gas production
  • An oil discovery would help fill the unused capacity in the Trans Alaskan Pipeline, currently flowing at only 1/3 of its capacity.
  • Property tax revenue from onshore infrastructure and pipeline tariffs would add significantly to North Slope and State government receipts.
  • The challenging physical, technical and legal environment of the Arctic OCS means long lead times until first production from any discoveries.