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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

USGS reports new oil source on North Slope

In a new assessment announced today, the U.S. Geological Survey reported a "significant undiscovered" source of oil and natural gas on Alaska's North slope, located between National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The assessment estimates there are 4.0 billion barrels of oil, 37.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 478 million barrels of natural gas liquids that are undiscovered and technically recoverable. (Technically recoverable resources are the amount of petroleum that may be recovered using current technology.)

By comparison, USGS estimates undiscovered oil of 10.6 billion barrels in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and 10.4 billion barrels in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 area.

The natural gas estimate of 37 trillion cubic feet is said to be found mostly in the southern half of the assessment area in the foothills of the Brooks Range. This is about half of what has been estimated to occur in NPRA and significantly more than has been estimated to occur in ANWR 1002 area.

The region covered by the assessment lies between NPRA and ANWR, and extends from the Brooks Range north to the State-Federal offshore boundary. The assessment area consists mostly of State and Native lands, covering about 23,000 square miles. The population in the area is limited to Prudhoe Bay and other oil-production facilities.

USGS says the assessment is based on a "comprehensive review" of all available geological, geophysical, and geochemical evidence; including hydrocarbon source rocks, reservoir rocks, and traps.

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