Alaska is on Pioneer Natural Resources' "pipeline of opportunities" list for as early as 2004 and the company says it will have an announcement on drilling results from its Northwest Kuparuk prospect out in May.
When the company discussed first quarter results with analysts this morning, Pioneer Natural Resources Chairman and CEO Scott Sheffield noted the discovery announced earlier this year at its Northwest Kuparuk prospect in the Beaufort Sea off the North Slope, where the company drilled three exploration wells this winter. He said the company is "encouraged by the early evaluation work we've done to establish commerciality."
The company said in March that while it did not find commercial quantities of oil in the Kuparuk formation, it did encounter Jurassic formation oil. The company described its findings today as two oil-bearing sand sections and said it tested thick Jurassic-aged sands at sustained rate of 1,300 barrels per day. The company is evaluating the commercial potential.
Sheffield told analysts that the company's well test looked good and said the company will be reporting results in three or four weeks. He also said the Jurassic formation tested at the Northwest Kuparuk prospect is very similar in geologic age to the Alpine field (onshore to the southwest). He said Pioneer found "very similar permeability and porosities" to Alpine.
"What's positive here is the fact that we are only six miles away from unused capacity at Kuparuk," Sheffield said.
Pioneer is aiming for five-year compound annual production growth of some 12 percent and long-term growth at 10 percent and Sheffield said Alaska is among the company's opportunities for growth.
Of nine projects listed in the analysts' presentation, with Alaska at the top, Sheffield said a lot of the potential is in the 2005-2006 timeframe, although "some of these will come on in 2004."
Pioneer has applied to the state of Alaska to establish the Oooguruk unit covering its Northwest Kuparuk prospect and in that application the company said its plan of exploration “incorporates current engineering work under way to meet a possible winter 2004/2005 fast-track production start-up.”