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July 09, 2009 --- Vol. 15, No. 53July 2009

Nenana gas exploration well spuds

The Nunivak No. 1 natural gas exploration well in the Nenana basin of Alaskas interior spudded at 6:45 p.m. yesterday evening, Jim Mery, vice president for lands and natural resources for Doyon Ltd., told Petroleum News today.

It should take about 48 hours to drill the surface hole and case the well to 2,500 feet, Mery said.

Denver-based Rampart Energy had planned to start drilling a few days ago, but a major forest fire just a few miles from the drill site put that plan on hold. The fire is currently about 6 miles away and not moving towards the site Division of Forestry fire personnel have advised that is safe to start the surface hole casing program, Mery said.

Extensive precautions are being taken to protect the site, in the event of the fire becoming a threat.

We are obviously concerned, but see no current threat to safety of the crews, or the rig and support equipment, Mery said. The Division of Forestry folks are doing a great job monitoring the fires, developing contingency plans, communicating with the public and getting appropriate assets in place in order to protect, not just our project, but the numerous remote cabins throughout this area.

Rampart is drilling the 10,500- to 11,000-foot well using the Drilling.html'>Doyon Drilling Arctic Wolf No. 2 rig, in partnership with Doyon, Usibelli Energy and Arctic Slope Regional Corp, at an estimated cost of $15 million.

A significant gas discovery in the Nenana basin, located in close proximity to a major highway, the Alaska Railroad and the Alaska Railbelt electrical intertie, could help alleviate high energy costs in Fairbanks and perhaps change the dynamics of the current debate about how to deal with pending gas shortages in Southcentral Alaska.

See story in July 12 issue, available online at noon, Friday July 10 at www.PetroleumNews.com

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