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Repsol says it has made one of the biggest conventional onshore oil discoveries in the US for decades on Alaska’s North Slope.

The Spanish group said the latest drilling at its Nanushuk play had extended previous discoveries by 20 miles and increased estimated resources to 1.2bn barrels of recoverable light crude oil.

The discovery promises to help breath fresh life into Alaska’s North Slope oilfields where production has been in decline for three decades. ConocoPhillips also announced a big find there in January, which raised hopes of a new wave of development.

Repsol said positive results from drilling at its Horseshoe-1 and 1A wells this winter added to earlier finds in the adjacent Pikka field and together represented the biggest discovery of its kind in the US for 30 years. It aimed to start production from Pikka in 2021, with a potential rate approaching 120,000 barrels a day.

The Spanish group has been exploring the Nanushuk play since 2008, for the past six years in partnership with privately-held Armstrong Energy. Repsol holds a 25 per cent stake in the Horseshoe discovery and 49 per cent in Pikka, with the remaining interest held by Armstrong, which also has operator rights.

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