Prudhoe Bay Oilfield, Deadhorse Alaska...whichever name you choose to use they both refer to the same area. Deadhorse is the name of the town at the end of the Dalton Highway (also known as the Haul Road). While Prudhoe Bay, the name of the largest oil field in North America, refers to the area in general. Compared to oil fields worldwide, Prudhoe Bay ranks in the top 20.
The Prudhoe Bay oilfield is 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, about 200 miles east of Barrow and approximately 650 miles north of Anchorage. It takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to fly from Anchorage to the slope onboard a Boeing 737.
You can drive to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay Alaska via the Dalton Highway, which is referred to locally as the Haul Road and starts just north of Fairbanks. Truckers drive from Fairbanks to Deadhorse in one, long day but I don't advise that tourists try to drive it in one day. Take your time. The road can be rough in areas, the weather extremely unpredictable, and if it's dry out the dust from passing trucks can be blinding. The scenery along the Haul Road is magnificent and there are plenty of places to pull off and camp. If you have the time (and a sturdy vehicle) it's a great trip. The only way to actually tour the Prudhoe Bay oilfield is through a commercial operator. The fields are not open to the public.
When first discovered, the Prudhoe Bay oilfield was thought to contain 9.6 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil. Advances in technology have upped that estimate to 13 billion barrels. The field also contains a significant amount of natural gas with the latest estimate at more than 26 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas. To access these resources, more than 1,114 wells have been drilled (as of the summer of 2006). The field itself is 213,543 acres in size.
Development of the field began in 1969 and oil first made its way down the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) on June 20th 1977.
When it came online, Prudhoe Bay averaged over 1.5 million barrels of oil & gas liquids per day for more than a decade. Output started to decline in 1988 and as of 2005, the average daily production is approximately 450,000 barrels. This amount equals 5% of total U.S. production.
The Prudhoe Bay Oilfield is owned by several companies with British Petroleum Exploration (Alaska) acting as the field operator.
Owner companies include:
36.07% ConocoPhillips Alaska
26.36% British Petroleum Exploration (Alaska)
1.16% Chevron Texaco
0.02% Forest Oil
While people instantly associate the Prudhoe Bay Oilfield and Deadhorse Alaska with the North Slope, there's much more to the area than just the Prudhoe Oil Field. In fact, as of Fall 2008 there were over 24 separate oil fields in production.