Yesterday ConocoPhillips accepted stipulations set by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for the expansion of the Colville River unit to include leases that were in the former Tofkat unit, company spokeswoman Natalie Lowman has informed Petroleum News. The acceptance of the stipulations presumably opens the door for DNR to approve the unit expansion.
The stipulations include drilling commitments in the expansion acreage and the need to make bonus bid replacement payments to the state if exploration, appraisal and development continues beyond an initial well. If the stipulations are not met, the Tofkat leases would be withdrawn from the unit.
In a letter to DNR Commissioner Andrew T. Mack, ConocoPhillips said that it views the outcome of the DNR reconsideration of its previous denial of unit expansion as representing "the best opportunity for this area to be timely developed in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."
The leases at issue are of great interest, given that the drilling of the Tofkat No. 1 well and its sidetracks by Brooks Range Petroleum indicated the presence of oil in several horizons, including rocks of the Nanushuk formation, a formation related to recent major oil discoveries in the same general region of the North Slope.
- ALAN BAILEY
See story in Aug. 20 issue, available online Friday, Aug. 18, at www.PetroleumNews.com