Vol. 16, No. 12 Week of March 20, 2011
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

BRPC spuds North Tarn

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Joint venture begins work on the only North Slope exploration well for 2010-11

Eric Lidji

For Petroleum News

Brooks Range Petroleum Corp. spud its North Tarn No. 1 exploration well in the central North Slope of Alaska on March 13, the local independent said.

North Tarn No. 1 is on state land east of the Miluveach River, about two miles west of the Kuparuk River unit. BRPC spud the well using Nabors rig 9ES and accessed the well site using a winter ice road and pad system built by Peak Oilfield Services.

BRPC plans to drill the well to a total measured depth of 6,440 feet to target both the Brookian formation and the deeper Kuparuk formation. The Brookian is the same formation producing at Tarn, the Kuparuk River unit satellite just to the south, while the Kuparuk is the main formation producing at the prolific Kuparuk River unit to the east.

BRPC estimates that the Brookian reservoir could contain some 35 million barrels of oil and that the Kuparuk reservoir could contain an additional 6 million barrels of oil. BRPC previously told Petroleum News that it believes the smaller Kuparuk formation presents a better bet for initial development because of the complex geology of the Brookian.

BRPC hopes to complete operations at North Tarn No. 1 by mid-April, but also said it could also end up drilling a sidetrack to the well this winter, depending on results.

“The BRPC Group is optimistically looking forward to see the results of the North Tarn No. 1 exploration well,” said Jim Winegarner, vice president of land and external affairs for BRPC. “The North Tarn No. 1 exploration well is the only exploration well being drilled on the North Slope this season; therefore, the BRPC Group holds the title as Alaska’s exploration company. We’d rather share that title with many more companies.”

While ConocoPhillips plans to drill a gas hydrates exploration well in Prudhoe Bay this year, North Tarn is the only traditional oil exploration well permitted this winter.

BRPC is operating the well on behalf of its parent company, the Kansas-based Alaska Venture Capital Group LLC, as well as three joint venture companies: Brooks Range Development Corp., Ramshorn Investments Inc. and TG World Energy Inc.

The joint venture acquired the North Tarn acreage in January 2010, farming-in six Eni Petroleum leases. Earlier this year, it applied to form the 56,460-acre Southern Miluveach unit over the area. That application is still pending with the Division of Oil and Gas.

Seven wells in five seasons

North Tarn No. 1 continues the joint venture’s march toward being the most active explorer in Alaska over the past five years. Following half a decade of stops and starts after arriving in the state in 1999, AVCG formed an operating arm, gathered acreage, partners and data, and began drilling exploration wells across the North Slope.

The joint venture drilled two wells in 2007 — the North Shore No. 1 well that encountered 70 feet of oil charged Ivishak sandstone and the Sak River No. 1 dry hole.

In 2008, the joint venture re-entered North Shore No. 1 to test the Ivishak and the Sag River formation, and drilled the Tofkat No. 1 well on acreage along the Colville River, taking 10 oil samples for four sandstone reservoirs and finding six net feet of pay.

In 2009, a lawsuit among partners kept the joint venture from drilling, but the partners resolved it in time to return to the North Slope in 2010 with two wells: Sak River No. 1-A, a sidetrack to the 2007 well, and the North Shore No. 3 well in the Gwydyr Bay area.

In addition to work at its Gwydyr Bay, Tofkat and North Tarn acreage, the joint venture wants to shoot seismic at its Slugger prospect, located south of the Point Thomson unit.

Partner TG World Energy recently announced that it successfully sold its outstanding stock to the Canadian mining company TVI Pacific Inc. The deal allows TG World to raise capital and TVI to expand its resource development operations in the Philippines.

TVI and TG World share a senior executive.

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