ConocoPhillips exec shares Slope optimism with local business leaders

Thursday, October 18, 2018 - 11:17

A high-ranking executive for an Alaska oil giant believes recent discoveries more than 800 miles from downtown Eagle River could mean good news for the local business community.

“It’s a pretty exciting time for the company,” said ConocoPhillips vice president for North Slope operations and development Lisa Bruner during the Sept. 19 meeting of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce at the Eagle River Ale House.

Bruner gave an update of the company’s North Slope operations, which she said have experienced a dramatic turnaround over the past five years.

“The change in outlook for our company was significant,” she said.

Bruner showed the crowd showing the company’s North Slope oil prospects in 2013, with a line going steadily downward into the future. At that time, the company was “in maintenance mode” and didn’t see much potential for growth on the Slope.

“We had other, better places to invest our dollars than Alaska,” she said.

But a lot has changed over the past few years, including more favorable tax structures for oil and gas companies that Bruner helped spur a boom in successful exploration in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. In a later slide, Bruner showed North Slope oil production moving upward.

“We just see a ton of potential,” she said.

Leading the way is the company’s Willow Discovery, a reserve to the west of the company’s Alpine field that’s believed to hold between 400 and 700 million barrels of oil. Bruner said that’s enough for the company to invest between $3 billion and $5 billion to produce the field.

“We’re pleased to be able to say we’ve got enough resource to support a standalone field,” she said.

Bruner said tax breaks for oil companies directly helped ConocoPhillips expand its exploration work on the Slope.

“I don’t want to understate how important that was,” she said.

Bruner said the company plans to continue North Slope exploration this winter, with more than 1,000 workers likely to be hired for the winter exploration season. The work is part of a mini boom in exploration on the Slope, where several other companies are trying to find oil both on- and off shore.

“There’s a pretty significant amount of ongoing work and development,” she said.

Bruner took time during her presentation to speak out against taxes against oil companies, which she said could potentially send her company’s dollars to projects in parts of the world that are cheaper to develop.

“The competition is significant,” she said.

Bruner also re-stated her company’s opposition to Ballot Measure 1, which would alter the state permitting process for development anywhere that could impact anadromous fish habitat. Bruner said the measure would add months if not years to planned developments and could impact everything from oil and gas exploration to the Trans Alaska Pipeline itself.

“It’s crucial not only to our industry, but to many of the industries around the state,” she said.

Bruner argued state permitting processes are already robust and not in need of additional regulations.

“Alaska is world class in terms of dealing with its fisheries management,” she said.

Chamber plans Mardi Gras event

The Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual membership meeting Sept. 29 at the Eagle River Lions Clubhouse. The event will feature an auction, beer and wine and dinner by Chugiak High culinary students. The event begins at 6 p.m. with dinner served at 7:30 p.m.

The event has a “Mardi Gras” theme, and diners are encouraged to come in costume. The event will also feature the unveiling of the new chamber of commerce board members.

Tickets are $65 each or $480 for a table of eight. For more information, visit the chamber website at cer.org, email [email protected] or call 694-4702.

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