FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Oil will not begin flowing from the giant Alpine oil field until at least October, more than a month behind previous estimates, Phillips Alaska Inc. officials said.
''It's a very large project,'' said Phillips Alaska Inc. spokeswoman Dawn Patience. ''As we get closer to the end, we are better estimating when the actual start-up will be.''
Patience said the start-up at Alpine, North America's largest on-shore oil discovery in a decade, is expected to be sometime in the fourth quarter of this year. She would not be more specific.
Patience said no particular issue is holding up Alpine. It is just a matter of making sure the work is done safely and well, she said. ''We want to do it right the first time.''
Phillips officials had said in July that the field should be on line in August or September.
Alpine contains an estimated 430 million barrels of recoverable oil and is expected to produce up to 80,000 barrels a day. Only two other fields on the North Slope -- Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk -- produce more.
Alpine sits west of Phillips' Kuparak field and abuts the eastern edge of the undeveloped National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Arco Alaska Inc., purchased by Phillips this year, built a 35-mile pipeline to connect Alpine to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
Phillips is calling Alpine a model for future North Slope development. New horizontal drilling techniques permit Phillips to reach oil pockets as far as a mile away, the company said, and drilling wastes will either be injected into waste wells or recycled and reused.
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