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Alaskanomics's Blog: Alaska’s crude oil and lease condensate reserves lagging behind the rest of the U.S.

Posted: 13 Sep 2013 12:44 PM PDT

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), recently shared an in-depth analysis of crude oil reserves from 2011 and the report shows a large increase in production in Texas and North Dakota, while Alaska only accounted for 4 percent of the net increase.  

In 2011, almost 3.8 billion barrels of crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves were added in the United States by oil and gas exploration and production companies. A recently published report cites an increase of 15 percent, the greatest volume since the U.S. EIA began publishing reserves estimates in 1977.  The previous record was the year prior in 2010 with 2.9 billion barrels.  For proved reserves of crude oil and lease condensate in 2011, Alaska showed modest growth compared to the other four largest crude oil and lease condensate areas (Texas, the Gulf of Mexico federal offshore, California, and North Dakota) which showed more significant increases, most specifically in Texas and North Dakota. 

Texas had the largest increase, about 1.8 billion barrels (46% of the net increase), making it a large margin over the other areas.  This resulted mostly from ongoing development in the western and central portions of the state.  North Dakota reported the second largest increase, with 771 million barrels (20 percent of the net increase), driven by development activity in the Williston Basin.  North Dakota and Texas accounted for two thirds of the net increase in total U.S. proved oil reserves in 2011.  Alaska accounted for just about four percent of the 2011 net increase with approximately 154 million barrels.

2013.09.13 Figure
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Alaska’s reserves have been steadily declining since 1981 and are now below the Federal Offshore reserves, which have steadily increased since the mid 1990s, even with a slight dip in the mid 2000s and then significant increases since 2009.  Alaska has seen this steady decline since 1987, with an increase in 2007, but a significant dip down in 2008, only to see an increase start up again (although more modest) in 2009. 

2013.09.13 Figure
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On the production side, operators throughout the nation reported oil production of 2.1 billion barrels in 2011.  This increase of four percent compared to 2010 represents a third year in a row of annual production increase in the US.  It’s also the first year since 2004 that oil production exceeded 2 billion barrels, according to the report. The reserves have increased production in the US, but Alaska has not benefited from the increased activity.

To read the full report, click here.

 

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