At an industry conference held in Anchorage this month, executives from ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. and Santos shared optimistic outlooks on the future of oil exploration and development in Alaska’s North Slope. The region, known for its significant oil reserves, is witnessing heightened activities with major projects like the Willow and Pikka developments.

ConocoPhillips is advancing with its significant Willow project, anticipated to produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil daily by the decade’s end. Senior Vice President Connor Dunn highlighted not only the magnitude of the Willow project but also the vibrant activity at other North Slope sites such as Kuparuk and Prudhoe Bay, signaling a dynamic decade ahead for the oil industry in a stable fiscal environment.

Dunn emphasized the surge of development revitalizing the North Slope, with the Willow project being a focal point despite environmental and Native groups’ criticisms. The Biden administration’s approval last year allowed the project to move forward, with over $7 billion invested towards achieving first oil production by 2029. This project is expected to generate significant employment during its construction phase, alongside ongoing development in other areas of the North Slope.

Similarly, Santos is making strides with the Pikka project, situated east of Willow on state land. Mark Ireland, Senior Vice President for Subsurface and Exploration at Santos, shared his enthusiasm for the North Slope’s prospects, noting the unprecedented levels of activity not seen in over a decade. The Pikka project, which entered its first phase following a $2.6 billion investment by Santos and its partner Repsol, is set to produce about 80,000 barrels of oil daily from 2026, tapping into a 400 million-barrel oil deposit.

These developments, alongside additional exploration efforts, are expected to significantly enhance the region’s oil output, with projections suggesting the discovery of even more substantial oil reserves in the coming years. The combined efforts of ConocoPhillips and Santos underscore the North Slope’s critical role in bolstering Alaska’s oil industry and its contribution to the global oil supply.

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