6-20-17 Prudhoe Bay’s 40th Anniversary Today!

Dave Haugen. Northern Gas Pipelines file photo by Dave Harbour

The beginning of Prudhoe bay development

40 years ago, the first barrel of oil started flowing down the trans-Alaska pipeline. Completing the pipeline was an epic, three-year saga that required tens of thousands of workers, great feats of engineering and perilous work on mountain passes. On the next Talk of Alaska, TODAY, we’ll explore that pipeline history as part of the series Midnight Oil, from Alaska’s Energy Desk.

HOST: Lori Townsend


  • Dermot Cole – Journalist and author or Amazing Pipeline Stories
  • Dave Haugen – former Alyeska Pipeline Service Company project manager
  • Statewide callers 


  • Call 550-8422 (Anchorage) or 1-800-478-8255 (statewide) during the live broadcast
  • Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).
  • Send email to talk@alaskapublic.org (comments may be read on air)

LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.

BP Celebrates 40 Years of Production at Prudhoe Bay

Alaska oil field is most prolific in U.S. history, with more than 12 billion barrels produced, and continues to support thousands of American jobs

Janet Weiss, president of BP’s Alaska region. Northern Gas Pipelines file photo by Dave Harbour

ANCHORAGE – The BP-operated Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska has reached 40 years of production, a milestone highlighting its historic contribution to U.S. energy security and ongoing role as a key economic engine for the region and nation.

Since the giant oil field on Alaska’s North Slope began production, it has generated more than 12.5 billion barrels of oil — far exceeding initial projections – making it the most productive U.S. oil field of all time.

“Forty years is extraordinary for a field that was supposed to have a 30-year life,” said BP Upstream Chief Executive Bernard Looney. “With continued innovation and investment, the expertise of our people and an unwavering commitment to safe and reliable operations, we firmly believe that the story of Prudhoe Bay is far from over.”

Prudhoe Bay oil production started on June 20, 1977, and began flowing 800 miles down what was then a newly constructed Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) to Valdez, where it was loaded onto tankers to supply markets on the U.S. West Coast.

The original estimated recovery for Prudhoe Bay was 9.6 billion barrels. However, an additional 3 billion barrels so far have been unlocked through innovations in oilfield technology. Indeed, the field has been a proving ground for advanced drilling techniques, including multi-lateral and coiled tubing, now employed by oilfields across the globe. It also has been a global hub for testing and deploying emerging enhanced oil recovery technologies that BP pioneered and that are now integral to Prudhoe Bay operations and other parts of BP’s portfolio.

Today, while production has fallen from historic peaks due to natural decline, Prudhoe Bay remains the third-largest oil field in the U.S. by proved reserves, behind the Eagle Ford Shale and Spraberry fields in Texas, and a major source of domestic oil production, with current output at approximately 281,800 barrels of oil equivalent per day. In addition, Prudhoe Bay continues to support more than 16,000 Alaska jobs and supplies 55 percent of all Alaska oil production. And over the last four decades, the State of Alaska has earned $141 billion in revenues from North Slope production and development.

“The field has repeatedly defied the odds and remains a major contributor to U.S. energy security and to the state’s economy,” said Janet Weiss, president of BP’s Alaska region. “Today, we celebrate this extraordinary history, and look forward to working with the State of Alaska to ensure that Prudhoe Bay has an equally bright future.”

Prudhoe Bay is operated by BP in Alaska. The working interest owners include: BP, 26 percent; ConocoPhillips, 36 percent; ExxonMobil, 36 percent; Chevron, one percent.


  • Prudhoe Bay was discovered in 1968 by Richfield (ARCO) and Humble Oil (ExxonMobil), and confirmed by BP in 1969.
  • Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) ownership includes: BP, 49 percent; ConocoPhillips, 29 percent; ExxonMobil, 21 percent, and Unocal, one percent.
  • In 2016, Alaska oil production through TAPS increased for the first time in a decade, rising two percent to 517,868 barrels of oil a day.

KTVA: To say that Alaska depends on oil is a gross understatement. Oil revenue makes up 90 percent of the state’s budget, which lately, has been billions short. That’s because oil production is declining rapidly.  (Today) is the 40th anniversary of the Trans-Alaska pipeline or TAPS.

Alaska Oil & Gas Association Study: “The Roll of the Oil and Gas Industry in Alaska’s Economy”

Your Alaska Link: McDowell Group Vice President Donna Logan sat down with Your Alaska Link, and explained in detail about her latest AOGA published report, “The Roll of the Oil and Gas Industry in Alaska’s Economy.”

In our interview above, Logan revealed the report’s freshest findings concerning the oil and gas industry sector, and what this means for the Last Frontier.

“The Roll of the Oil and Gas Industry in Alaska’s Economy” report’s entirety can be read at: http://www.aoga.org/sites/default/files/news/mcdowell_agoa_presentation_final_5-31-2017.pdf.

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About the Author:

Dave Harbour, publisher of Northern Gas Pipelines, is a former Chairman of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, a Commissioner Emeritus of NARUC, NARUC's Official Representative to IOGCC and Vice Chairman of NARUC's Gas Committee. He served as Gas Committee Chairman of the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners. He also served as commissioner of the Anchorage Bicentennial Commission and the Anchorage Heritage Land Bank Commission. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree: English, at Colorado State University, a Master of Science Degree: Communications-Journalism at Murray State University and graduated from Utility Regulatory School for Commissioners at Michigan State University. He served as a Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs at Alaska Pacific University, taught bank marketing classes at the University of Alaska and was an English teacher at Los Alamos High School. Harbour served in ranks of Private - Captain during a 4-year assignment with the Army in Korea, Idaho, Georgia and Fort Meade and received the Meritorious Service Medal among other commendations. Harbour is also a past Chairman of the Alaska Council on Economic Education, the Alaska Oil & Gas Association Government Affairs Committee, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, the Export Council of Alaska and the Department of Commerce's District Export Council. He is a past President of the Alaska Press Club, American Bald Eagle Foundation, Consumer Energy Alliance-Alaska and Common Sense for Alaska. Harbour was instrumental in founding the American Bald Eagle Research Institute (UAS), the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, the Downtown Anchorage Business Partnership, and Arctic Power. He also served as CEO of several small Alaska organizations, including the Anchorage Parking Authority and Action Security, Inc. Harbour is also Chairman Emeritus of the Alaska Oil & Gas Congress. Harbour's wife, Nancy, is a professional, performing arts administrator and his three boys, Todd, Benjamin and William work in the fields of environmental management, energy marketing and medicine.
By |2017-06-20T15:31:22-09:00June 20th, 2017|Alaska's Fiscal Crisis, TAPS and North Slope Oil|0 Comments
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