Concept Study: Exploration and Production in Environmentally Sensitive Arctic Areas

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The Alaska North Slope offers one of the best prospects for increasing U.S. domestic oil and gas production. However, this region faces some of the greatest environmental and logistical challenges to oil and gas production in the world. A number of studies have shown that weather patterns in this region are warming, and the number of days the tundra surface is adequately frozen for tundra travel each year has declined. Operators are not allowed to explore in undeveloped areas until the tundra is sufficiently frozen and adequate snow cover is present. Spring breakup then forces rapid evacuation of the area ... continued below

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Patil, Shirish; Haut, Rich; Williams, Tom; Shur, Yuri; Kanevskiy, Mikhail; Hanks, Cathy et al. December 31, 2008.

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The Alaska North Slope offers one of the best prospects for increasing U.S. domestic oil and gas production. However, this region faces some of the greatest environmental and logistical challenges to oil and gas production in the world. A number of studies have shown that weather patterns in this region are warming, and the number of days the tundra surface is adequately frozen for tundra travel each year has declined. Operators are not allowed to explore in undeveloped areas until the tundra is sufficiently frozen and adequate snow cover is present. Spring breakup then forces rapid evacuation of the area prior to snowmelt. Using the best available methods, exploration in remote arctic areas can take up to three years to identify a commercial discovery, and then years to build the infrastructure to develop and produce. This makes new exploration costly. It also increases the costs of maintaining field infrastructure, pipeline inspections, and environmental restoration efforts. New technologies are needed, or oil and gas resources may never be developed outside limited exploration stepouts from existing infrastructure. Industry has identified certain low-impact technologies suitable for operations, and has made improvements to reduce the footprint and impact on the environment. Additional improvements are needed for exploration and economic field development and end-of-field restoration. One operator-Anadarko Petroleum Corporation-built a prototype platform for drilling wells in the Arctic that is elevated, modular, and mobile. The system was tested while drilling one of the first hydrate exploration wells in Alaska during 2003-2004. This technology was identified as a potentially enabling technology by the ongoing Joint Industry Program (JIP) Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) program. The EFD is headed by Texas A&M University and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), and is co-funded by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The EFD participants believe that the platform concept could have far-reaching applications in the Arctic as a drilling and production platform, as originally intended, and as a possible staging area. The overall objective of this project was to document various potential applications, locations, and conceptual designs for the inland platform serving oil and gas operations on the Alaska North Slope. The University of Alaska Fairbanks assisted the HARC/TerraPlatforms team with the characterization of potential resource areas, geotechnical conditions associated with continuous permafrost terrain, and the potential end-user evaluation process. The team discussed the various potential applications with industry, governmental agencies, and environmental organizations. The benefits and concerns associated with industry's use of the technology were identified. In this discussion process, meetings were held with five operating companies (22 people), including asset team leaders, drilling managers, HSE managers, and production and completion managers. Three other operating companies and two service companies were contacted by phone to discuss the project. A questionnaire was distributed and responses were provided, which will be included in the report. Meetings were also held with State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources officials and U.S. Bureau of Land Management regulators. The companies met with included ConcoPhillips, Chevron, Pioneer Natural Resources, Fairweather E&P, BP America, and the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: FC26-01NT41248
  • DOI: 10.2172/963368 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 963368
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928289

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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Creation Date

  • December 31, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Dec. 5, 2016, 1:09 p.m.

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Patil, Shirish; Haut, Rich; Williams, Tom; Shur, Yuri; Kanevskiy, Mikhail; Hanks, Cathy et al. Concept Study: Exploration and Production in Environmentally Sensitive Arctic Areas, report, December 31, 2008; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928289/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.