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Alaska Trims Forecast for North Slope Oil Production

Source: Reuters 3/16/2019, Location: North America

Alaska North Slope oil production will average 511,500 barrels per day (bpd) for the current fiscal year to June 30, the Alaska Department of Revenue said in a semiannual forecast released late Friday, down 3 percent from an earlier estimate.

In its previous forecast released last fall, officials expected the current fiscal year’s North Slope production to average 526,800 bpd.

The latest forecast said North Slope production is expected to increase in the coming fiscal year to 529,000 bpd, then decline for several years, hitting a low of 469,100 bpd in 2024.

Alaska, with no state income tax or sales tax, depends heavily on oil royalties, taxes and fees from mostly aging fields to pay for state operations. The state used to produce more than 2 million bpd but production has slumped in recent years.

The semiannual forecasts from the Alaska Department of Revenue are used to help craft state budgets.

The production declines have created long-term budget problems for the state. Alaska’s total petroleum revenues are expected to be about $2.6 billion in the current fiscal year, but drop to about $2.1 billion in fiscal 2025, the department’s forecast said.

The state is hoping that planned lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will halt the overall trend of falling production in Alaska, but production is expensive.

The Alaska Department of Revenue forecast predicts that Alaska North Slope prices will average $68.90 a barrel for the current fiscal year, then fall to an average $66 a barrel for the next two fiscal years. In later years, North Slope prices are expected to rise with inflation to reach $77 a barrel by fiscal 2028, according to the forecast.

Outside of the North Slope, production from Cook Inlet in southern Alaska is also falling. It is expected to average 14,400 bpd in the current fiscal year and fall steadily in future years, dwindling to 5,100 barrels per day in fiscal 2028, according to the forecast.

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