Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
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The oil companies that run the Trans-Alaska Pipeline suggest that if oil flows drop too low, the line could be compromised. But others say that the industry’s numbers are wrong and are actually part of a campaign to open up currently off-limits areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.
In an election year when access to domestic oil supplies will figure prominently in the presidential campaign, uncertainty is growing over how much life the critical Trans-Alaska Pipeline has left in it. The pipeline transports roughly 14 percent of U.S. crude oil supplies, yet energy companies are starting to suggest that the lifeline to some of the richest oil fields in the country may not be worth the expense of upkeep. Oil production in Alaska’s North Slope oil fields has declined every year since production peaked in 1988, and the consortium of energy companies that own the line say they are worried: If production slows down too much, the pipeline can become unsafe—or at least uneconomical—to run. But some watchdogs say the industry may be fudging its numbers as part of a ploy to get access to new, potentially rich oil fields.
JUNEAU, Alaska, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Alaska is considering unconventional oil plays to increase production but a federal agency said it might be difficult to do so economically.
Oil production in Alaska peaked more than 20 years ago with slightly more than 2 million barrels of oil produced per day, state figures indicate. Slumping oil production in the state has left the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system operating at about 30 percent of its capacity.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline system has an expected service life of 10 years given anticipated declines in oil flows from the state.
The U.S. Geological Survey in February said unconventional reserves could be bountiful in the state.
David Houseknecht, a USGS scientist, was quoted by the Post as saying the prospects were uncertain, however.
"It is really an unknown whether that oil can be recovered from the source rock and can that oil be recovered at a rate and volume per well that would be economically viable," he said.
A complex regulatory battle is brewing over how much money the owners of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline charge to ship crude, one that raises questions about Gov. Sean Parnell's push to slash billions of dollars in oil taxes.
Parnell has said that the trans-Alaska pipeline -- the 800-mile umbilical cord that symbolizes the state's lifeblood industry -- is running low on oil and could shut down in as early as eight years under certain conditions.
To solve that alleged dilemma, he has advocated for the Alaska Legislature to cut oil taxes by up to $2 billion a year for the companies that produce crude from state lands. Parnell and others claim that will result in the companies searching for more oil and pumping it into the trans-Alaska pipeline.
PeakOiler wrote:Here's a comparison chart to put things into perspective:
I don't think that I'll be alive in another 29 years. Maybe. (I'm 54 now). Someone else will have chart the data to 2041.
Someone had mentioned in another thread how much it cost per well in N. Dakota. Perhaps that was in the Bakken thread. Anyway, we could do some math.
IF N. Dakota oil production were to reach the same level of production as N Slope Alaska production when it peaked, how many wells would it take at what cost? (Assuming the cost per well stayed constant, which it won't of course). I doubt N. Dakota oil production will ever reach the level as the N Slope, but I could be wrong. I may be gone before I ever know.
PeakOiler wrote:I suspect drilling the ANWR will happen within a decade. Environmental concerns seems to always get overruled when the need for oil outweighs those concerns.
Sadly this attitude, these seemingly innocuous comments, is rather common today. They speak volumes about the tragedy of ecological ignorance, and intrusions of republican creationist (rather than conventional religious) education theory into our public school systems.seenmostofit wrote:PeakOiler wrote:I suspect drilling the ANWR will happen within a decade. Environmental concerns seems to always get overruled when the need for oil outweighs those concerns.
or energy in general, or a new road, strip mall, etc etc.
Environmental concerns are nice, certainly no one wants to drink bad water, breath crappy air, but "concerns" will rarely override the benefits in most cases.
I have "concerns" that climate change will cause the sea level to rise. But I appreciate the view from my seaside villa. So my "concerns" will certainly wait...at least until the villa is washed away.
pstarr wrote:Sadly this attitude, these seemingly innocuous comments, is rather common today. They speak volumes about the tragedy of ecological ignorance, and intrusions of republican creationist (rather than conventional religious) education theory into our public school systems.seenmostofit wrote:I have "concerns" that climate change will cause the sea level to rise. But I appreciate the view from my seaside villa. So my "concerns" will certainly wait...at least until the villa is washed away.
pstarr wrote:Regarding Alaska and ANWAR; Lest we forget, the nine billion barrels of probable reserves are only good for another nine months of American motoring. I am ashamed that my country would see fit to spend the last of our inexpensive oil legacy on such a stupid, short-sighted venture. You'd think we never heard of oil depletion.
In any case, Shell officials say they are still a decade away from any oil production in the Arctic. This season’s drilling is for exploration wells, designed to test the size of the undersea oil deposits.
Actual production wells would require another exhaustive round of federal approvals and, most likely, construction of a pipeline to carry the offshore oil bounty into the Trans-Alaska pipeline.
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