Oil production from Alaska’s North Slope dropped 5.8 percent in April, a faster pace than its March decline, as a problem at BP Plc’s Central Gas Facility curtailed crude output at Prudhoe Bay.
North Slope production dropped to 546,087 barrels a day last month, down from 579,441 a year earlier, according to data on the website of the Alaska Revenue Department’s tax division. An injection compressor system at the gas facility shut down April 22 for about 48 hours, Dawn Patience, a BP spokeswoman in Anchorage, Alaska, said in a telephone interview today. The gas is used to enhance oil recovery at Prudhoe Bay, Patience said.
Alaska’s North Slope has been yielding less oil every year since 2002 as output from wells naturally declines and isn’t replaced. March output decreased 4.9 percent from the year before. The shrinking supply has boosted foreign crude imports to the U.S. West Coast and prompted Flint Hills Resources LLC to shut a crude unit at the North Pole refinery last year because of rising oil prices.
“The greater Prudhoe area was impacted by this compressor injector being down,” Patience said. The effect on average daily production was “not really that significant on an annual or monthly basis.”
Production at Prudhoe Bay dipped by 30 percent to 225,885 barrels on April 22, the day of the compressor shutdown, from 323,697 barrels the day before, according to the data. Output didn’t recover above 300,000 barrels until April 26.
Inventories of the feedstock at the Valdez marine terminal, the northernmost ice-free port in North America, averaged 4 million barrels last month, ranging from a high of 5.26 million on April 29 to a low of 2.95 million on April 14, the tax division data show.
Alaska North Slope crude prices declined 4 percent in April, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The fuel’s premium to U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate was unchanged at $11.87 a barrel today. It averaged $12.50 in April, compared with $16.17 in March.