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North slope oil declining even faster

April 11, 2013

The Alaska Department of Revenue released its Spring Revenue Forecast last week, reducing their estimate of Alaska North Slope oil production for FY2013 and FY2014 by 14,500 and 11,800 barrels per day, respectively, over their fall forecast.

The Department of Revenue (DOR) began to refine its production forecasting methodology three years ago, and the new model has proved to more accurate. For the Fall 2012 forecast, DOR contracted with an independent engineering consultant to build a well-by-well evaluation of all currently producing wells. The chart shows the DOR’s forecasts from FY2006 to FY2020, and actual production from FY2006 to FY2012. Since the Fall revenue forecasts are produced five months into the fiscal year, those same-year forecasts have been quite accurate. In most years, the second year’s forecast has also been fairly accurate. After that, the forecasts on the whole were considerably more optimistic than reality, because they counted on lower field decline rates and a significant percentage of new oil that did not materialize.

The FY2006 forecast was particularly optimistic, with an FY2012 prediction of 831,000 barrels per day. Actual production for FY2012 was 579,400 barrels per day. The difference of nearly 300,000 barrels per day was, for the most part, from inaccurate forecasts of new oil from projects the DOR expected to ramp up to peak production in FY2012.

Because 90% of the state’s unrestricted general fund revenue comes from petroleum, production forecasts are particularly important to state policy makers. The DOR’s new methodology tries to incorporate many of the factors that impact oil production in Alaska – decline rates, risks of delay, and performance risks.


Seven years ago in Jan 2006 Alaska produced 25,779 thousands of barrels and North Dakota 3,053. In Jan 2013, it was Alaska 17,012 and North Dakota 22,879 barrels. ND produces more oil than Alaska now.



Source: Alaska DOR