Seven years of field production data from a horizontal well programme in Alaska are reviewed. Expectations and analyses prior to drilling are compared with extensive efforts to understand well performance once on production. Evaluation of well performance is considered through well testing, production logging and reservoir simulation. The review concludes that accurate reservoir description is critical to successful forecasting; simplistic description can lead to overestimation of productivity. Furthermore, innovative reservoir characterization techniques may be necessary to utilize a complex description properly in predictive mode. Production logging is highlighted as a critical diagnostic tool, despite the need to run on coiled tubing. In contrast, pressure transient analysis, for which theory is well developed, can be problematic and may require modification to traditional field practices.