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Alaska

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History of Northern Alaska Petroleum Development

In the early 1970s, as petroleum production from the Lower 48 states entered a decline, a new discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope of Alaska offered the U.S. the promise of a significant new source of competitive domestic supply on a world class scale.  The discovery was initially estimated to be 9.6 billion barrels of oil, nearly double the size of the largest field ever previously found in North America.  Despite high costs, hostile climate, untested technology, unsettled land claim issues, and major environmental challenges, supply from Prudhoe Bay came online in 1977, offsetting most of the decline in Lower 48 supply through the mid-1980s.

Alaska Related Information:

Resource Assessment Reports prepared by the U.S. Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service that describe the geology and petroleum potential of specific areas within the Alaska OCS.

Future Oil Production for the Alaska North Slope, prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration Office of Oil and Gas provides a range of plausible production scenarios for the North Slope area of Alaska based on the decline of existing production, the anticipated start-up of identified field development projects, and future discovery and development of the remaining undiscovered oil resources estimated for the area by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Land Management and the Minerals Management Service.

Alaska Division of Oil and Gas website includes maps of operating areas, production and revenue data, leasing requirements, oil and gas regulations, and other information.

Visit the U.S. Interior Department's website, Environmentally Responsible Energy Production in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.