Seven oil and gas companies plan to drill exploration wells on Alaska’s North Slope this winter; an eighth company is moving forward with plans to re-enter an old exploration well. Five of the eight companies are small independents; one is a big independent; and two are majors.
Big independent Anadarko Petroleum is targeting natural gas, the first explorer in northern Alaska to do so. The company has two rigs under contract, Nabors 105E, new to Alaska, and Akita 63, which has just been winterized. Anadarko plans two gas wells at its Gubik and Chandler prospects, which are on Arctic Slope Regional Corp. land near Umiat in the Brooks Range Foothills. Anadarko also plans to go in to finish a well it began drilling last winter on its Jacob’s Ladder oil prospect, 10 miles southeast of Prudhoe Bay. Depending on what it finds, Anadarko might do more drilling there or at a nearby prospect.
The two majors are returnee Chevron and ConocoPhillips, the North Slope’s biggest explorer historically, although this year the company is backing off wildcat exploration to drill close-in delineation wells after disappointing results and an unusually expensive exploration season last year.
Chevron hopes to drill six exploration wells this winter at its White Hills prospect in the Foothills, using another new rig from Nabors, Rig 106E. It will be the first time the company — or Union Oil Company of California, which Chevron acquired in 2005 — has drilled on the slope since the early 1990s.
In a recent regulatory application Chevron said it “plans to conduct a regional, multiyear onshore oil and gas exploration drilling program” at White Hills. Chevron has not been willing to talk about its target at White Hills, but a state geologist said the area was oil and gas prone.
ConocoPhillips plans to focus on appraising discoveries previously announced on the eastern border of NPR-A. The company’s budget for this winter’s exploration season won’t be approved until December, but it has Doyon Rig 141 under contract and is looking at drilling a couple of exploration-appraisal wells in the Alpine-Greater Moose’s Tooth area that would follow up on discoveries in the area.
Small independent Brooks Range Petroleum Corp. Group is hoping to drill as many as four wells this winter on three different North Slope prospects with Nabors Rig 27E, including Tofkat No. 1 south of the Alpine field. But first BRPC Group will complete and test its 2006-07 North Shore No. 1 exploration well in the Gwydyr Bay area northwest of Prudhoe, which the partners said looked like an oil strike.
Another small independent, newcomer Denver-based Savant Alaska, is set to drill its Beaufort Sea Kupcake prospect with Kuukpik No. 5. Kupcake is adjacent to BP’s Liberty prospect and is expected to hold approximately 100 million barrels of recoverable oil.
Renaissance Umiat is in the process of permitting 10 wells in the Umiat oil field, which straddles the eastern border of NPR-A. Because the Umiat reservoir is shallow, the small independent expects to get seven or eight wells drilled this winter using the Doyon-Akita Arctic Wolf rig.
Small independent UltraStar Exploration said it has stuck a deal with BP to drill its Dewline Deep No. 1 well from BP’s Point McIntyre 1 drill pad “in the early April (2008) timeframe.”
BP will manage the operation, but the Petersburg, Alaska-based company will have an onsite geologist “to make necessary decisions.”
Tiny independent Alaskan Crude plans to re-enter the Burglin No. 33-1 well this winter. Suspended in 1985, the well is in the San Antonio company’s undeveloped Arctic Fortitude unit, one and a half miles southeast of the Deadhorse airport.
Editor’s note: See full story in the Nov. 18 issue of Petroleum News, available online at www.petroleumnews.com on Friday at noon Alaska-time.