The Alaska Division of Oil and Gas has approved a 34,176-acre expansion of the Colville River unit, and field operator ConocoPhillips Alaska, which has already shot 3-D seismic over the area, needs to drill wells in the area in each of the next two winters to keep the expansion area in the unit.
Alpine is the producing field in the Colville River unit, with development already planned for discoveries to the north and south (Fiord and Nanuq).
The prospect in the expansion area, Iapetus, expends the unit to the Northwest along the coast, and includes both state and Arctic Slope Regional Corp. leases, and some jointly held acreage.
ConocoPhillips “plans to drill a number of exploration wells within the proposed CRU expansion area,” the division said in its April 22 decision, with proposed surface locations on either state of Alaska or Kuukpik Village Corp. lands.
No wells have been drilled in the expansion area, but wells have been drilled to the west and east-southeast and the division said ConocoPhillips mapped the Iapetus exploration prospect with 2003 3-D seismic, and data from nearby wells “help define the prospect.”
The combination of seismic and well data “provide evidence that the proposed Third CRU expansion area encompasses the minimum area required to include all or part of one or more potential hydrocarbon accumulations,” the division said.
There are two areas in the expansion, and both must be drilled — one well required in the winter of 2005, one in the winter of 2006; any acreage not included in a participating area within five years will be contracted out of the unit.