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Liberty Project, Alaska, United States of America


British Petroleum's (BP) Liberty offshore oilfield is located four miles off the northern coast of Alaska in Foggy Island Bay in the Beaufort Sea. The estimated recoverable reserves of the oilfield are approximately 100 million barrels of oil and 78 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The oilfield is expected to produce more than 40,000bpd.

BP is investing $1.5bn in developing the project. Production from the field is expected to last for 20-40 years. BP plans to develop the oilfield from its existing facilities in the Endicott field in Prudhoe Bay. Production from the oilfield will be carried out using the world's first ultra extended reach drilling (u-ERD) technology.

In July 2010 BP announced that it would start development drilling for the Liberty project in 2011.

The project was originally scheduled to start production in 2011 with development drilling commencing towards the end of 2010.

The project has come under criticism following BP's Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP is delaying the field development due to increased scrutiny from state and federal officials. The field is now expected to start production in 2013.

Liberty rig

Drilling activities for the Liberty oilfield will be carried out using the massive Liberty rig. BP contracted Parker Drilling to construct the rig, which involved a total cost of $215m. As of April 2010, assembly of the rig is nearing completion at BP's Endicott facilities.

The rig was constructed at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and brought to BP's Endicott facilities by a 400ft long and 105ft wide heavy-lift barge constructed by Crowley Maritime Corp. On completion of assembly, the rig will be 240ft high.

The Liberty rig will be fitted with eight 2,640hp engines and powered by natural gas. The top drive of the rig will be 105,000ft / lbs of torque. The rig will have the capacity to accommodate 84 people.

To withstand the Arctic conditions, the rig is being constructed using low temperature-tolerant steel. Thermal sound dampening insulation has also been provided for the rig. An integrated control system will provide centralised monitoring, command and management facilities.

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