This morning, March 8, Repsol E&P USA restarted exploration drilling operations at its Kachemach 1 ice pad.
Both the K-1 and Qugruk 2 drill sites are on Alaskaís North Slope, but K-1 is farther south and not geologically similar to the companyís three Qugruk drill sites, which lie near the mouth of the Colville River.
Repsol had stopped drilling operations at Q-2 and K-1 when it had a gas blowout on Feb. 15 at Q-2. Drilling had not yet begun at the Q-1 ice pad or at Q-4, an ice island, which as of March 7 was 74 percent complete, and the ice road to it 83 percent complete.
Repsolís decision to suspend all its North Slope exploration activity after the incident was in fulfillment of a promise made by the Spanish major to the people of Nuiqsut prior to the start of its winter exploration program.
According to Petroleum News sources, Repsolís decision to move forward with K-1 drilling came after making sure the village leaders of Nuiqsut, the North Slope Borough and the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission did not object.
Repsol confirmed the information.
The company, which was testing blowout preventer equipment on Nabors 9ES at K-1 on March 8, had hoped to drill a total of nine wells from three ice pads and one ice island during this winterís exploration season, but the likely loss of two potential wells at Q-2 dropped that number to seven, especially since AOGCC has withdrawn all the Qugruk drill site well permits and asked Repsol to reapply for them, a process that will chop at least 14 days from the already short exploration season.
But in the interest of safety, company officials donít appear to be complaining.
See story in March 11 issue, available online at 11 a.m., Friday, March 9 at www.PetroleumNews.com