Pinpointing the exact date new oil operations will come online and their subsequent production levels is an educated guess at best. Even then, access to funding; the permitting process; environmental regulations; changes in local, state, or federal government administrations; or, as is happening now in Alaska, attempts to change the oil tax structure, can all derail those estimates.
Predictions are, as oil and gas executives are careful to point out at investor meetings and presentations, "forward-looking statements" based on the circumstances that exist when the predictions are made and outcomes are, for better or worse, subject to change. With that in mind, here are the 2020 projections for Alaska's North Slope, from continuations of appraisal and exploration projects begun in 2019 to big changes among the major players.
Alaska's oil and gas industry saw a huge shake-up in 2019 when BP announced the $5.6 billion sale of its Alaska assets to Hilcorp. The sale encompasses BP's 26 percent working interest in Prudhoe Bay, its non-operating interests at the Point Thomson and Milne Point fields and the Liberty project, exploration leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, its shares of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, and midstream interests in the Milne Point and Point Thomson pipelines. According to an August 2019 press release. Hilcorp will pay $4 billion in the near-term, with the remaining $1.6 billion paid through an earnout.
State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Corri Feige told legislators at a joint session of the Senate and House resources committees in December that the DNR was one-third of the way through its review of the sale; the Regulatory Commission of Alaska is also examining portions of the sale, including ownership transfer of the pipeline.
BP Alaska spokesperson Megan Baldino says BP will continue to operate the Prudhoe Bay assets until the sale is finalized. BP and Hilcorp hope to close on the deal during the second quarter of 2020; Alaska law imposes no timeline on when the state must complete its review.
The big news from ConocoPhillips Alaska is the planned sale of 25 percent of its working interest in the Kuparuk River Unit on the western North Slope, which includes Alpine and undeveloped acreage in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Natalie Lowman, director of communications for ConocoPhillips Alaska, says the sale will help the company realize the full potential of its remaining North Slope assets.
"This effort to sell down some of our interests is really a way to better manage the...