Although oil production on the North Slope is in steady decline, its largest operator, BP, remains bullish about the future because of the region’s untapped resources.

BP says the region is teeming with enough natural gas and heavy crude oil to keep production going for another 50 years.

High oil and gas prices, along with significant technology advances, are spurring exploration even deeper and farther offshore into the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea. BP is spending $60 million this year to build a well that will run eight miles laterally from Endicott offshore to a 100 million-barrel field of sweet crude.

But BP still faces questions from state and federal lawmakers challenging its safety and facility maintenance practices. Last month, a House committee criticized BP, saying the company put profits over maintenance on the North Slope.

That was something its employees had been warning about for years..