JUNEAU (AP) — ConocoPhillips Alaska is planning to restart drilling at four rigs in December, which will reinstate several hundred jobs that evaporated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company's president, Joe Marushack, outlined the plans on Wednesday at the annual Resource Development Council conference.

"By the end of 2021, there will be four rigs running between (Great Mooses Tooth) 2, Alpine and Kuparuk," Marushack said. "Each rig normally employees about 100 people and each of those jobs support multiple jobs throughout the state economy."

The pandemic had substantially diminished demand in oil, which in turn resulted in a drop in prices. Marushack said 2020 was supposed to be the company's biggest exploration and winter construction season ever.

"We came into the year very excited," Marushack said. "It was also slated to be a big drilling year with the startup of the Doyon extended reach drilling rigs at Kuparuk and robust drilling programs in the core fields of Alpine, Prudhoe and Kuparuk."

The company was forced to suspend development and cut production from the North Slope after the pandemic began.

Marushack said that Prudhoe Bay, Kuparuk River and Alpine have each had no operational rigs for the first time since they were brought online, Alaska's Energy Desk reported.

But, he said the plan is to have two of those fields working again by the end of 2021.