NEW YORK (Reuters) - BP (BP.L) has filed development plans for its Liberty oil field in Alaska with federal regulators, putting the oil major on track to make a final investment decision on the $1 billion (504 million pound) project by 2008.
The field, which lies in federal waters off the north coast of Alaska near BP’s Endicott field, was discovered in 1997 but has not been developed due to technological constraints and low oil prices in the late 1990s.
Earlier discoveries in the area have been produced from artificial gravel islands but BP plans to expand an existing facility at the Endicott field to reduce the environmental impact of the Liberty development, the company said in its filing.
Extended-reach horizontal wells drilled from the Endicott Satellite Island will stretch out up to 7.5 miles (12 km) to tap the estimated 105 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves in Liberty.
The wells would be the longest horizontal wells ever drilled by BP, exceeding those at its Wytch Farm field in Britain.
BP plans to begin building the special drilling rig that will be needed for the horizontal wells in 2008. The expansion of the Endicott Satellite drilling island would be done in 2009 along with other major construction.
Oil would first be produced in the first quarter of 2011 at an expected rate of around 20,000 barrels per day. If the extended reach drilling is successful, output would ramp up to 40,000 bpd by 2013 as additional production wells are added, BP said.
In addition to securing permits from the MMS, BP will need to reach an agreement with its partners at Endicott to use that field’s facilities as well as obtain permits from Alaskan state authorities.