ConocoPhillips Gets Green Light for Alaskan Oil Field Unit

Federal officials have given ConocoPhillips and its partner Anadarko Petroleum the go-ahead to compile certain Alaskan oil and gas leases into a new oil field unit -- a precursor to development and production in the North Slope region, reports Reuters.

Citing Greg Noble, acting branch chief for energy and mining for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Alaskan office, Reuters noted that ConocoPhillips received approval for its new Bear Tooth unit last week, with development drilling scheduled to begin by 2012.

Located in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve, federal land on the western parcel of the North Slope, the Bear Tooth Unit comprises 23 leases and some 105,000 acres. The unit is also situated northwest of the Mooses Tooth Unit, likewise operated by ConocoPhillips, according to both the operator and BLM.

Although the Mooses Tooth unit -- which is closer to existing oil field infrastructure -- is slated to commence production sometime between 2012 and 2014, the Bear Tooth Unit's full development will come on stream later, Noble said.

According to Noble, the 164,000-acre Mooses Tooth unit could become the source of the first commercially produced oil from the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and will feed into ConocoPhillips' Alpine field infrastructure.

Relinquished Leases

Additionally, ConocoPhillips and partner Anadarko have relinquished 43 of its oil and gas tracts to the BLM, saying that the leases "do not fit with ConocoPhillips' strategic plan based on potential for commercial development, their remote location and impending lease expiration." As of Monday, 63 other leases held by ConocoPhillips and Anadarko expired without being developed, Reuters confirmed.

Moreover, ConocoPhillips says it is focusing on its exploration efforts in the Chukchi Sea, where the company believes there is a greater prospectivity for oil.