With four companies having spud eight penetrations, the winter exploration season is under way, but some companies have scaled back or delayed their plans for the season.
Altogether, those four companies should drill 10 or 11 penetrations this winter.
The well count is be at the low end of the early estimate Petroleum News made in October, when permitting documents suggested that five companies could drill between 12 and 22 wells, but above the seven exploration wells companies drilled last winter.
As of March 20, Repsol E&P USA Inc. had spud three wells and two sidetracks at its Qugruk prospect between the Oooguruk and Colville River units, ConocoPhillips had spud one well in its Bear Tooth unit in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, Linc Energy LLC had spud one well at the Umiat prospect farther south in the NPR-A and Pioneer Natural Resources had drilled the Nuna No. 2 well at the Nuna development of its Oooguruk unit and is currently conducting hydraulic fracturing operations on the well.
Those companies plan to drill as many as three additional penetrations among them.
But Brooks Range Petroleum Corp. and UltraStar Exploration LLC have deferred exploration work for this season, and Linc is also pushing off some work until 2014.
See story in March 24 issue, available online at 11 a.m. Friday, March 22, at www.PetroleumNews.com