April 27, 2007 --- Vol. 13, No. 37April 2007

AOGCC schedules hearing on Rule 9 amendments

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has scheduled a hearing June 19 to consider amending Rule 9 of Conservation Order 341D, which establishes rates and conditions for Prudhoe Bay oil pool gas offtake.

The commission said the hearing will follow up on some of the recommendations of the 2006 Prudhoe Bay oil pool gas offtake study, non-confidential results of which were presented at a Feb. 28 public meeting.

At the June 19 hearing the commission will consider amending Rule 9 to add a provision requiring its approval of a depletion plan for the Prudhoe Bay reservoir prior to significant gas offtake from the field. Rule 9 amendments to be considered include requiring the Prudhoe Bay working interest owners to develop near-term strategies to prepare for such gas offtake, including methods to increase the capture of oil prior to gas offtake and to ensure that facility downtime and well downtime are minimized; and a requirement that the owners provide the commission with detailed, periodic updates on the progress of depletion planning efforts.

The commission set an offtake rate of 2.7 billion cubic feet a day in 1977 and its staff and a consultant said after the 2006 study that there was insufficient evidence to recommend increasing the established offtake rate, but recommended that the Prudhoe owners be required to do depletion planning prior to committing to selling gas.

The hearing will be at 9 a.m. at the commission’s offices at 333 W. 7th Avenue in Anchorage.

Pioneer drops North Slope Cronus unit

Pioneer Natural Resources is planning to terminate the North Slope Cronus unit where it drilled the Cronus 1 exploration well in the winter 2005-06 drilling season.

“While the well penetrated oil bearing sands, further analysis did not support economic viability of the prospect. The well was deemed unsuccessful as disclosed in the second quarter 2006,” Sam Hicks, manager of corporate communications and public affairs for Pioneer, told Petroleum News April 26. (See story in the Aug. 20 issue.)

Pioneer has a 90 percent working interest in the two-lease 11,343-acre unit near Meltwater; Alaska Venture Capital Group has the remaining 10 percent.

Editor’s note: See full story in the May 6 issue of Petroleum News.

DNR closes coastal tundra travel on the North Slope

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources has closed the eastern coastal and western coastal tundra opening areas of the North Slope for general off-road travel. And all tundra off-road travel currently in progress must be completed by 12:00 p.m. on Sunday April 29.

“Snow pack on the coastal tundra opening areas (both east and west) has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer adequate for general off-road travel,” DNR says. However, travel may continue on ice roads — ice roads are still generally in good condition.

Tundra travel remains open in the upper and lower foothills.

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