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  • Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

    Alaska's untapped oil reserves estimate lowered by about 90 percent

    The U.S. Geological Survey says a revised estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a fraction of a previous estimate.
    The group estimates about 896 million barrels of such oil are in the reserve, about 90% less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.
    The new estimate is mainly due to the incorporation of new data from recent exploration drilling revealing gas occurrence rather than oil in much of the area, the geological survey said.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/10/27...ves/index.html


    Alaska is, of course, a huge energy exporter.... Production there has declined from a peak of over two million barrels per day to only 600,000 or so today. Once the flow drops below 500,000 barrels, there will be problems with icing in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system.
    [Is this true? At what point will the pipeline need to be decommissioned? Will the oil then be sent by tanker? If so, what are the likely destinations?]

    http://www.postcarbon.org/blog-post/...ska-and-energy

  • #2
    Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

    Originally posted by mooncliff View Post
    Alaska's untapped oil reserves estimate lowered by about 90 percent

    The U.S. Geological Survey says a revised estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a fraction of a previous estimate.
    The group estimates about 896 million barrels of such oil are in the reserve, about 90% less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.
    The new estimate is mainly due to the incorporation of new data from recent exploration drilling revealing gas occurrence rather than oil in much of the area, the geological survey said.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/10/27...ves/index.html


    Alaska is, of course, a huge energy exporter.... Production there has declined from a peak of over two million barrels per day to only 600,000 or so today. Once the flow drops below 500,000 barrels, there will be problems with icing in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system.
    [Is this true? At what point will the pipeline need to be decommissioned? Will the oil then be sent by tanker? If so, what are the likely destinations?]

    http://www.postcarbon.org/blog-post/...ska-and-energy
    Hmmmm. Looks like the USGS just pulled "a Shell"...

    As for the Trans-Alaska pipeline, there's no possible way that tankers will replace it. You can't compete with a paid off asset like the pipeline by replacing the infrastructure with something entirely new, and costly. The pipeline will be modified, the operating procedures changed and the oil will continue to flow through it for many, many more years to come...

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

      Mooncliff, you're such a spoilsport. I have to concentrate on either voting to re-elect Governor Moonbeam or newbie Meg, the billionaire dilettante, Whitman, while you distract me with peak oil issues. Please, prioritize

      (PS: think the Alaskan news is news to those who knew )

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

        But Shell only decreased their reserves by 20%, if I recall correctly

        2 million barrels a day to 0.5 million... or less...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

          Oh, what the hell, vote Moonbeam, but mostly, vote for dope... then at least the next time I go to California I can be happy...

          That behavior is just like Pemex 30 years ago... pick the rosiest estimate... so I treat with suspicion all upward estimates of reserves... they might be true, but show me the oil! The volumes have not been doing good in spite of the record prices, so I think by volume we hit peak (cheap) oil in 2005, and so we are in the long undulating plateau, and I hope and pray that it is a long plateau...

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

            Originally posted by don View Post
            re-elect Governor Moonbeam or newbie Meg, the billionaire dilettante
            Don,

            vote for Brown -- much better than either Meg (I will cut jobs and export them to China) or the "Terminegger" who deserves to have more egg on his face. From personal knowledge, Brown is a good guy, and has a good head on his shoulder.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

              Originally posted by GRG55 View Post
              Hmmmm. Looks like the USGS just pulled "a Shell"...

              As for the Trans-Alaska pipeline, there's no possible way that tankers will replace it. You can't compete with a paid off asset like the pipeline by replacing the infrastructure with something entirely new, and costly. The pipeline will be modified, the operating procedures changed and the oil will continue to flow through it for many, many more years to come...
              From my memory of the Trans-Alaska pipeline the flow of oil through the pipeline is facilitated by friction. That is, friction of the oil flowing through the pipeline heats the oil and lowers the viscosity of the oil making it possible to pump the oil through the pipeline in the first place. If flow is halted the oil in the pipeline would 'freeze' up, rendering the pipeline all but useless as a
              conduit. There is a minimal flow rate (500,000 barrels per day??) that would still create enough friction to keep the oil viscosity low enough to flow through the pipeline. At lower flow rates, flow would still be possible if external heat is added to the oil. However, the net energy available at the end of the pipeline would be correspondingly decreased. Comments?

              Another question: If is true, as implied in the earlier post, that North Slope oil production has peaked, how rapidly can it be expected that production will drop off? Off a cliff? A long slow, gradual decrease over decades?? I know that individual gas wells typically decline precipitously after peak production but what can be expected for the overall composite of the North Slope field? When will Alaska become a net energy importer again?? Just wondering....Hmmmm?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

                At the end of WWII, there was no petroleum left in Japan. People were going up into the mountains to collect pine roots and resin to distill into a few gallons of fuel to run military machinery.

                That's what came to mind when I saw this.

                http://www.guardian.co.uk/environmen...iofuel-gunboat

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

                  Originally posted by Rajiv View Post
                  Don,

                  vote for Brown -- much better than either Meg (I will cut jobs and export them to China) or the "Terminegger" who deserves to have more egg on his face. From personal knowledge, Brown is a good guy, and has a good head on his shoulder.
                  Hey I think Meg stinks, but if you think Brown has a "good head on his shoulders", both you AND the moonbeam could use a checkup from the neck up.

                  I have no idea who is going to win, but one thing I know for sure: California is going to get exactly what it deserves this election season.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

                    That pipeline was made as the little dots on the curve were moving up and were on the left hand side of the Peak.

                    http://www.overthinkingit.com/wp-con...roduction1.jpg

                    So the problem is not new to petroleum engineers but were not discussed in public. Sort of like derivatives, saving/cap., debt burden, military spending ....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

                      Originally posted by reallife View Post
                      From my memory of the Trans-Alaska pipeline the flow of oil through the pipeline is facilitated by friction. That is, friction of the oil flowing through the pipeline heats the oil and lowers the viscosity of the oil making it possible to pump the oil through the pipeline in the first place. If flow is halted the oil in the pipeline would 'freeze' up, rendering the pipeline all but useless as a
                      conduit. There is a minimal flow rate (500,000 barrels per day??) that would still create enough friction to keep the oil viscosity low enough to flow through the pipeline. At lower flow rates, flow would still be possible if external heat is added to the oil. However, the net energy available at the end of the pipeline would be correspondingly decreased. Comments?...

                      I highly doubt this is correct. Friction is the enemy of pipeliners. Generally everything practical is done to reduce friction losses in petroleum pipelines, because friction manifests as a loss in flowing pressure [far more than any rise in fluid temperature] and therefore has to be overcome with pumping horsepower - which is expensive to install and expensive to run. The friction losses in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline would have been highest during the period of maximum flowrate. As the flow declines the friction losses will also decline and the number of pumps required to operate to get the oil from the head end to Valdez will decrease.

                      IIRC the pipeline was designed for something a little over 2 million barrels per day, so the minimum turn-down will be well below 500,000 barrels per day [single phase pipelines typically have turndown ratios the are much greater than 4]



                      Originally posted by reallife View Post
                      Another question: If is true, as implied in the earlier post, that North Slope oil production has peaked, how rapidly can it be expected that production will drop off? Off a cliff? A long slow, gradual decrease over decades?? I know that individual gas wells typically decline precipitously after peak production but what can be expected for the overall composite of the North Slope field? When will Alaska become a net energy importer again?? Just wondering....Hmmmm?
                      Prudhoe Bay is a clastic reservoir deposited in an alluvial/deltaic environment [rivers/river mouth/inshore coastal]. Such reservoirs are anything but homogenous. Both the porosity [space in the rock to hold the petroleum] and the permeability [ability of the petroleum to flow through the reservoir rock to the well bores] varies considerably. When first put on production the pressure sink created at the producing wells causes the high permeability "gravel" strata in the reservoir to produce first. Once that is quickly drained the lower permeability rock (think of this as made of packed sand grains instead of coarse gravel), which contains by far the majority of the reserves, dominates the production, but at much lower production rates and typically also at much lower decline rates. This is the reason that Prudhoe Bay experienced peak production only two years after first production.

                      The original oil in place was estimated at about 25 billion barrels, making it the largest producing oil field in North America. Only about 50% of the oil in place is recoverable using current methods. Those technologies keep evolving however, as do the economics of enhanced recovery techniques with rising energy prices. In addition, because there is no method to get the associated natural gas to a market, all of the associated gas that has been produced has been processed and re-injected back into the reservoir [excluding what has been consumed as fuel in the production operations]. Barring a massive production technology breakthrough of some sort I am quite confident that Prudhoe Bay will still be producing 50 and more years from now.

                      Edit added: What is interesting about Prudhoe Bay is that no other fields of similar size have yet been found in that province. It is highly unusual to find such a large resource [Prudhoe Bay is a world class oil reservoir] and be unable to find a number of significant additional deposits in the same setting. The known satellite deposits at Prudhoe Bay are tiny compared to the main reservoir, and nobody has found anything close to another Prudhoe sized field off the Arctic coast. Yet.
                      Last edited by GRG55; 10-28-10, 12:08 PM. Reason: Add comment about additional field potential

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

                        3.5 Alaska and Deepwater Oil
                        The Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska, which is the largest field ever found in North America and the fifteenth largest in the world, was discovered in 1965. It began producing oil in 1977 and achieved its highest production 1988. Estimates for its ultimate reserves have ranged from 9 to 13 Gb, but as Figure 5 shows, it is likely to have had nearly 12 Gb of oil. At its peak it produced 1.56 Mb/d and still delivers about 500 kb/d. The Kuparuk River field produces 200 kb/d and is the second largest field in Alaska. The newest fields are the Alpine (2000) and North Star (2001) fields and are producing about 100 kb/d each. Other fields are smaller, but all together Alaskan production today provides 1.0 Mb of the 19.7 Mb used in the U.S. daily [10
                        http://www.greatchange.org/images/ov-korpela-6.gif

                        http://www.greatchange.org/ov-korpel...depletion.html

                        One can take a straight edge and do what we petroleum engineers do to get a ball park estimate of when the field will hit zero.
                        http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...75_to_2005.png

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

                          Originally posted by Shakespear View Post
                          http://www.greatchange.org/images/ov-korpela-6.gif

                          http://www.greatchange.org/ov-korpel...depletion.html

                          One can take a straight edge and do what we petroleum engineers do to get a ball park estimate of when the field will hit zero.
                          http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...75_to_2005.png
                          Just a note that the chart for "Prudhoe Bay" in the links in the above post is the composite of the production profile from Prudhoe Bay and the satellite fields that were tied in to the production facility as the namesake reservoir began to decline. It does not reflect the decline curve of the original Prudhoe Bay reservoir alone.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

                            Perhaps this is better

                            12-12-05 Alaskan North Slope crude oil production, once heralded as a domestic mother lode, has hit a new output low -- embodying the precarious balance confronting the United States as it struggles for energy security in an era of volatility in the international oil market.
                            The decline in Alaska is led by a slump in output from the once-mammoth Prudhoe Bay field, which has been producing since 1969. At its height in fiscal 1988, the field produced an average of 1.6 mm bpd; but in fiscal 2005, it was down to 381,000 bpd. Overall production in the North Slope has dropped to an average of 916,000 bpd from 2.01 mm barrels in the same period.
                            http://www.gasandoil.com/GOC/news/ntn60295.htm

                            http://www.davidstrahan.com/blog/?p=101


                            I just wanted to point out that it is on its "death bed" and Alaska's contribution to total US consumption is small. We are a huge importer of the stuff.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Alaska untapped oil reserves down 90%, pipeline running into low volume problems

                              Originally posted by Shakespear View Post
                              ...We are a huge importer of the stuff.

                              Somehow I think we are all aware of that...

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