Alaska January Crude Output Down 7.9 Percent From Year Earlier

Oil production from Alaska’s North Slope dropped 7.9 percent in January from a year earlier as output from wells declined and new ones weren’t added.

Production averaged 576,959 barrels a day last month, down from 626,155 in January 2012, the state tax division said on its website. December output was 582,150 barrels a day.

Alaska’s North Slope has been yielding less oil every year since 2002 as output from wells naturally declines. The shrinking supply has spurred refiners on the U.S. West Coast, including Tesoro Corp. and Phillips 66, to pursue rail shipments from the U.S. Midwest and prompted Flint Hills Resources LLC to shut a crude unit at its North Pole refinery in Alaska.

“We haven’t had any new fields come online this month,” Ed King, petroleum economist for Alaska’s tax division in Anchorage, Alaska, said by telephone. “So we just continue to see the same natural decline we’ve seen in previous months.”

Inventories of the feedstock at the Valdez marine terminal, the northernmost ice-free port in North America, averaged 3.58 million barrels last month, ranging from a high of 4.97 million on Jan. 19 to a low of 2.49 million on Jan. 7, according to the tax division.

Alaska North Slope crude was unchanged at a premium of $14.50 a barrel to U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate at 1:55 p.m. New York time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.