ConocoPhillips can trace its heritage back to the greatest oil discoveries in Alaska history, and today the company continues its tradition of exploring new prospects on the Alaska frontier.
Kenai Peninsula/Cook Inlet
Richfield Oil Co., a predecessor of ARCO, which was later acquired by Phillips Petroleum Co., was involved in the early discoveries of oil and gas on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and in Cook Inlet. Richfield drilled the first well at Swanson River in July 1957 and struck oil. Alaska’s first governor, Bill Egan, later credited Swanson River with providing the economic justification for statehood. On June 8, 1969, production of liquefied natural gas began at the Kenai LNG Facility for export to Japan. The Plant was for many years the only LNG export facility in the United States. In early 2018 ConocoPhillips Alaska reached an agreement with an Andeavor company for the sale of the Kenai LNG Facility. Operatorship was transferred to Andeavor on January 31, 2018. With the sale of Kenai LNG, ConocoPhillips’ exit from Cook Inlet is complete. As the longest, continuously operating LNG plant in the world, the Kenai LNG Plant served for 48 years as an LNG industry role model for safe, efficient and reliable operations.
On the North Slope, a different story was being played out. In 1966, ARCO almost gave up on its leases after drilling a number of dry holes. But their last effort, the Prudhoe Bay StateNo. 1 well, struck oil and gas in April 1967. The completion of a second well in March 1968 confirmed the discovery of the super-giant Prudhoe Bay Field, the largest oil field in North America. Today, ConocoPhillips owns 36.1 percent of the Prudhoe Bay Unit and 28.3 percent of the trans-Alaska pipeline, which transports North Slope oil to Valdez for delivery, mostly to West Coast markets.
ConocoPhillips also owns 94.5 percent of North America’s second-largest oil field, the Kuparuk River Field. The field, located 40 miles west of Prudhoe Bay, was discovered in 1969 by Sinclair Oil Corp., acquired that year by ARCO. ConocoPhillips operates the field and continues to develop it.
In March 2000 Phillips Petroleum purchased ARCO Alaska’s assets for $7 billion. Two years later, in August 2002, Conoco Inc. merged with Phillips Petroleum to form ConocoPhillips – and ConocoPhillips Alaska became Alaska’s largest oil and gas producer. The company’s newest field is in the Colville River Unit, also known as Alpine, located 34 miles west of Kuparuk. Since 2000, ConocoPhillips has developed Alpine and a group of satellite fields using horizontal well technology. In October 2015 first oil was announced at our long-anticipated CD5, the first oil development on Alaska Native lands in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. CD5, an extension of the Alpine field, is exceeding its original production target of 16,000 BOPD gross, and is currently producing approximately 37,000 BOPD gross average, year to date. ConocoPhillips owns 100 percent of Alpine.
ConocoPhillips is one of the largest holders of federal and state leases in Alaska, with significant interests in National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPR-A), and other undeveloped acreage on the North Slope. In all, ConocoPhillips has drilled more than 58 exploration wells since 2000, including 28 in NPRA. Significant oil exploration and development opportunities still exist on the North Slope of Alaska. In 2016, the company drilled two exploration wells that encountered significant pay in the Bear Tooth Unit. This discovery, Willow, is located in the northeast portion of the NPR-A. In 2018, the company appraised the greater Willow area and made discoveries in three additional prospects. Appraisal of the 2018 discoveries will continue in 2019.