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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1276

Economics of Undiscovered Oil and Gas in the Central North Slope, Alaska

Published 2005
Version 1.1

Emil D. Attanasi and Philip A. Freeman


This report summarizes the economic analysis of the U.S. Geological Survey's 2005 petroleum assessment of the Central North Slope of Alaska. The study area is located east of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA) and west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It extends from the State-Federal offshore border south to the Brooks Range. The study area includes all onshore lands (State, Federal, and Native) and the lands underlying adjacent Alaska-State waters.

Estimates of technically recoverable oil in undiscovered oil accumulations range from 2.57 to 5.85 billion barrels of crude oil (BBO) with a mean of 3.98 BBO (Bird and Houseknecht, 2005). The range in estimated volumes corresponds to the 95th fractile and the 5th fractile, respectively. Similarly, the 95th and 5th fractile estimates of technically recoverable gas volumes in undiscovered gas accumulations range from 23.9 to 44.9 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas with a mean value of 33.3 TCF.

At a market price of $55 per barrel, economic oil represents 79 to 88 percent of the assessed technically recoverable oil. Assuming an Alaskan natural gas export pipeline tariff under $3.00 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) and a ready but delayed market, given the primitive gas field development cost data used in this study, the volumes of undiscovered gas that could be identified and produced at $5 per mcf range from 7.9 to 22.1 TCF.

Version History

Version 1.1: January 13, 2006. A published reference replaced a written communication, and the map scale on figure 2 was corrected.


This report is available in Adobe Acrobat format.

Open-File Report 2005-1276 [4.7-MB PDF].

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For scientific questions or comments concerning this report, contact Emil D. Attanasi.

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