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Thursday, September 8, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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North Slope oilmen say more production unlikely, despite Katrina

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — Major North Slope oil producers say they already are producing as much oil as they can, despite a call by Gov. Frank Murkowski for increasing Alaska oil production to help fill in the gap created by Hurricane Katrina.

"We are producing as much as possible at this time," Dawn Patience, spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips, said yesterday.

"There aren't any switches to flip that will dramatically increase production," said Daren Beaudo, spokesman for BP Exploration. "We're diligently attempting to produce as much oil as we can."

Murkowski earlier this week asked oil companies to ramp up production. But Murkowski spokeswoman Becky Hultberg said yesterday the announcement was an attempt to ensure that Alaska makes every effort to assist in the nation's response to Hurricane Katrina.

"The response the governor received yesterday was a willingness to make every effort," she said.

The statement said the governor had spoken to representatives of BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Anadarko, and the Alyeska Pipeline Service Corp.

Alaska supplies 17 percent of the nation's domestic oil production.

Murkowski said Alaska has been a critical supplier of energy to the country and it was natural for Alaska to again play a leading role in meeting America's needs. He said Alaska oil producers had increased production before, during the first Gulf War.

The price of Alaska North Slope crude closed yesterday at $62.12 per barrel, a tremendous price incentive in itself for oil companies to produce all they can.

Patience said she could not get into specifics of particular ConocoPhillips fields and the potential for increasing production. She said the company was committed to working with the state, looking for opportunities to increase production.

Beaudo said BP has devoted resources to increasing production through "well workovers," involves taking old, tired wells that that need mechanical attention and spending money to make them as efficient as possible.

"We're trying to make every barrel we can," Beaudo said.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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