The Carter administration proposed an oil pricing rule yesterday that would result in $2 billion in additional profits over the next four years to companies producing oil on Alaska's North Slope, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The proposed ruling by the Federal Energy Administration would in one respect treat Alaskan oil like imported oil. It would give the producers up to $1.50 in additional revenues for each barrel shipped through the 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline, according to a Senate Energy Committee memorandum obtained by The Washington Post.
The budget office said last month that such a proposal would increase revenues to producers by $5.54 billion in the next four years. About a fourth of that amount, $1.38 billion, would go to Alaska; the rest would go to the companies and to pay federal taxes.
"The price scheme proposed by FEA," a senior congressional aide said, "gives the producers the highest possible profits."
Herbert H. Zachow, an Atlantic Richfield Co. executive who will testify before a Senate Energy subcommittee Monday on the FEA proposal, said yesterday, "Within the realm of political possibility it is the most favorable choice . . . It will provide the necessary incentives to assure further development of the Prudhoe Bay field."
Douglas G. Robinson, an FEA official in charge of Alaskan oil policy, said the administration ruling would not result in price increases.
Atlantic Richfield along with Standard Oil Co. of Ohio, Exxon Co. and British Petroleum own 95 per cent of the 9.5 billion barrels of oil in the Prudhoe Bay field, one of the world's largest oil fields. The FEA estimates the companies have spent $2.9 billion developing Prudhoe Bay since 1958.
The FEA has a program to equalize the cost domestic refiners across the country pay for crude oil. Because of the different mix that various refiners have of domestic oil some of which sells for about $5.25 a barrel and some for $11.28, and foreign oil, which sells for about $13.50, oil companies that have to buy more high-cost oil are "entitled" to a payment from those who have lower priced oil.
FEA's proposal, which the administration announced last month it would offer, would give producers of Alaskan oil so-called "foreign oil entitlements treatment."
Since foreign oil is excluded from the entitlements program, Alaskan oil producers would not have to pay entitlements.
"The entitlements treatment is the single most important factor in determining the producers' revenues and profits from Alaskan oil," the Senate memo said.
FEA Administrator John F. O'Leary said Tuesday, the administration would grant increased incentives to North Slope producers to spur additional exploration. The administration's Alaskan oil-pricing policy, O'Leary said, would also compensate the companies for the high costs of developing and transporting Alaskan oil.
Sen. J. Bennett Johnson (D-La.) said in an interview that the administration's proposed ruling "is probably the only way to go between now and 1980 when entitlements will be phased out." Johnston chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Regulation which will hold the Monday hearings on the administration plan.
Under existing law the FEA has authority to implement the proposed ruling, which appeared in the Federal Register yesterday, without congressional action.
The FEA will hold hearings on the proposed ruling and is expected to make a final decision before the first deliveries of Alaskan oil arrive on the West Coast next September. By December the pipeline will carry 1.2 million barrels of oil a day, about 13 per cent of total domestic production. Alaskan production could be increased to 2 million barrels a day by the mid-1980s, depending upon additionnal oil development, the FEA said.