Image courtesy of BP.

BP is planning to curb its drilling activity in Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay this year in response to low oil prices.

According to an annual development plan seen by the Alaska News Dispatch, BP plans to drill 32 wells in the Initial Participating Area in the Prudhoe Bay this year, down from 60 wells in 2015.

Although the plan estimates that production could decline by as much as 40,000 barrels per day, BP Alaska president Janet Weiss told the newspaper that she believes production will fall by less than 20,000 bpd.

The Initial Participating Area produced about 234,000 barrels per day in 2015, the Alaska News Dispatch said.

The development plan covers a year-long period beginning on July 1, the Alaska News Dispatch said.

The plan follows a decision in March to idle three of the five rigs that were operating in the Prudhoe Bay.

BP expects the Alaskan government to issue its decision on the plan sometime in June.

BP operated nine North Slope oilfields in the Greater Prudhoe Bay area at the end of 2015.

“Our focus continues to be safe and reliable operations, renewing BP’s Alaska North Slope infrastructure and minimizing oil production decline,” BP said in its 2015 annual report.

BP added that production decline in the North Slope is being managed through annual drilling programs and rig and non-rig well work programs.

Weiss told the Alaska News Dispatch that BP doesn’t expect to begin boosting its Prudhoe Bay rig count until 2018 or until North Slope crude prices rise above $50 per barrel.

According to the U.S. Energy Administration, Alaska North Slope crude oil first purchase prices stood at $20.89 per barrel as of February 2016 and sold for an average price of $41.11 per barrel in 2015, down from a high of $98.79 per barrel in 2011.

BP posted a $583 million loss in the first quarter as low oil prices continued to weigh on upstream profits.


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