ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Phillips Alaska Inc. and BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. have discovered a significant oil field on the North Slope, the companies said Tuesday.
The Meltwater discovery, the first for Phillips Alaska since it bought Arco Alaska last month, is estimated to contain about 50 million barrels of proven and potential reserves.
The exploration well is about 10 miles south of the Tarn oil field in the Greater Kuparuk Area. It tested out at around 4,000 barrels of oil per day. A second exploration well confirmed the northern portion of the reservoir.
''Our goal is to bring this new field on production as quickly as possible. We will soon be working with Phillips on a field development plan,'' said F.X. O'Keefe, exploration business unit leader for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.
Dawn Patience, spokeswoman for Phillips Alaska, said the field could begin producing in as little as 18 months. Oil from the test well was of higher quality than that coming from Prudhoe Bay, she said.
The Meltwater Discovery was made on land purchased in June of 1998 from the first area wide lease sale held by the state of Alaska. Phillips holds a 58.46 percent interest while BP Exploration has 41.54 percent.
The find is significant, even though it can't compare in size to Prudhoe Bay, expected to produce 13 billion barrels of oil and is smaller than Kuparuk's estimated 2.5 billion barrels.
Meltwater has the potential to be the fourth Kuparuk satellite field to begin production, company officials said.
The West Sak field began production in 1997 and the Tarn and Tabasco fields began production in 1998.
Meltwater's development costs can't be estimated until it is known whether Kuparuk's processing facilities can be used for the project, Patience said.
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