History of ConocoPhillips Alaska

ConocoPhillips can trace its heritage back to the greatest oil discoveries in Alaska history, and today the company continues its tradition of exploring new prospects on the Alaska frontier.

Kenai Peninsula/Cook Inlet

Richfield Oil Co., a predecessor of ARCO, which was later acquired by Phillips Petroleum Co., was involved in the early discoveries of oil and gas on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and in Cook Inlet. Richfield drilled the first well at Swanson River in July 1957 and struck oil. Alaska’s first governor, Bill Egan, later credited Swanson River with providing the economic justification for statehood. On June 8, 1969, production of liquefied natural gas began at the Kenai LNG Facility for export to Japan. The Plant was for many years the only LNG export facility in the United States. The export license for the plant expired March 31, 2013. ConocoPhillips is evaluating the possibility of applying for a new license. To this day, ConocoPhillips is one of the major natural gas suppliers to the local Anchorage utility market.

Prudhoe Bay

On the North Slope, a different story was being played out. In 1966, ARCO almost gave up on its leases after drilling a number of dry holes. But their last effort, the Prudhoe Bay StateNo. 1 well, struck oil and gas in April 1967. The completion of a second well in March 1968 confirmed the discovery of the super-giant Prudhoe Bay Field, the largest oil field in North America. Today, ConocoPhillips owns 36.1 percent of the Prudhoe Bay Unit and 28.3 percent of the trans-Alaska pipeline, which transports North Slope oil to Valdez for delivery, mostly to West Coast markets.


ConocoPhillips also owns 55.3 percent of North America’s second-largest oil field, the Kuparuk River Field. The field, located 40 miles west of Prudhoe Bay, was discovered in 1969 by Sinclair Oil Corp., acquired that year by ARCO. ConocoPhillips operates the field and continues to develop it.


In March 2000 Phillips Petroleum purchased ARCO Alaska’s assets for $7 billion. Two years later, in August 2002, Conoco Inc. merged with Phillips Petroleum to form ConocoPhillips – and ConocoPhillips Alaska became Alaska’s largest oil and gas producer. The company’s newest field is in the Colville River Unit, also known as Alpine, located 34 miles west of Kuparuk. Since 2000, ConocoPhillips has developed Alpine and a group of satellite fields using horizontal well technology. One of those satellites, CD5, is located inside the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, and is expected to produce the first oil from NPR-A when it goes online in 2015. ConocoPhillips owns 78 percent of Alpine.


The company also holds 1.2 million acres in state and federal exploration leases on the North Slope, in NPR-A, in Cook Inlet and in the Outer Continental Shelf. These leases represent a major asset for ConocoPhillips and are tangible proof of the company’s commitment to Alaska’s future.‚Äč