March 24, 2009 --- Vol. 15, No. 27March 2009

Drift River terminal intact after Redoubt eruptions

Although Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano has erupted six times since Sunday night and volcanic mudflows have been observed on the flanks of the mountain, the Drift River oil terminal at the base of the volcano on the west side of the Cook Inlet is intact, the U.S. Coast Guard reported today.

“The facility was shut down and the 11 personnel evacuated by helicopter Monday,” the Coast Guard said.

And although mud and debris have been sighted near the terminal and its airstrip, no mudflows have breached the dikes that protect the terminal’s tank farm.

“Initial indications are that the dikes performed as designed,” the Coast Guard said. “… No (oil) release has been observed and no sheen was observed Monday afternoon by Coast Guard, ADEC and Alaska Volcano Observatory personnel on an over flight of the area.”

Terminal owner Cook Inlet Pipe Line Co. built massive protective dikes around the tank farm after some minor flooding occurred at the terminal, when Redoubt eruptions in 1989 and 1990 diverted the nearby Drift River. But the Chevron subsidiary that operated the terminal keeps a minimum quantity of oil in the two active tanks at the terminal, to ensure that the tanks are not floated from their foundations, were the protective dikes to be breached.

“Each tank contains about 74,000 barrels of crude oil,” the Coast Guard said.

Eni asks for more time at Nikaitchuq

Eni US Operating Co. Inc. wants extra time to develop the Nikaitchuq unit.

The subsidiary of Italian oil giant Eni S.p.A. recently asked the state to extend the term of the offshore unit to April 1, 2011, from the current expiration date of April 30, 2009.

The request comes a few weeks after news that Eni had suspended drilling operations at Nikaitchuq this winter, pushing the startup of the field to 2010 or later from late 2009.

Eni told the state it already “completed and or initiated” several activities at Nikaitchuq, located in the near shore waters of the Beaufort Sea, north of the Kuparuk River unit.

According to a 2007 revision of the 2004 agreement, the current term of the Nikaitchuq unit ends in April 2009 unless the state certifies a well in the unit as capable of producing in paying quantities or the commissioner of Natural Resources extends the deadline.

Petro-Canada major Alaska leaseholder

There is an Alaska impact from the merger of Petro-Canada into Suncor Energy announced yesterday: Petro-Canada is a major oil and gas leaseholder on both state and federal acreage in Alaska.

The company is a big player in the Brooks Range Foothills and in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and is a partner with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in drilling this winter at Gubik.

Petro-Canada first acquired Alaska oil and gas leases at a 2001 North Slope Foothills sale. It has acquired and relinquished state oil and gas leases since; its current share in state leases is 295,520 acres.

The company has also acquired federal acreage in the state, some 622,922 net acres in NPR-A, 92,807 acres in partnership with Anadarko and 530,115 acres in partnership with FEX.

See stories in March 29 issue, available online at noon, Friday, March 27 at

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