Bill Armstrong staying in Alaska
If you thought Bill Armstrong was leaving Alaska in June when his new partner takes over operations in the Nanushuk unit and Horseshoe block, you are wrong.
Armstrong’s recent deal with Oil Search has given the independent the opportunity to pursue its geologic ideas across the North Slope. (Armstrong and his existing partners currently hold 800,000 acres of exploration leases in Arctic Alaska.)
The company’s success with revolutionizing exploration in northern Alaska has opened up more possibilities in previously unexplored or barely explored parts of Arctic Alaska, essentially launching a rethink of the potential for finding oil and gas in the Brookian sequence, the youngest of the major petroleum bearing rock sequences (see article about Dave Houseknecht and the USGS on page 1 of this issue).
In its initial release of information Oil Search said it “will form a long term partnership with Armstrong, leveraging its technical capabilities and experience in the identification of additional potential growth opportunities in Alaska,” a relationship recently clarified in a meeting between Petroleum News and Oil Search’s new top executive for Alaska, Keiran Wulff, executive general manager for exploration and new business; Bill Armstrong, founder and president of the Armstrong group of companies; and other top officials with Armstrong and Oil Search.
Traded on the Australian Securities Exchange, Oil Search has deeper pockets than Armstrong to fund major exploration and development projects, but the flexibility to move quickly and decisively on opportunities - in other words, an excellent match for Armstrong.
Furthermore, both companies have proven efficient and capable operators.
Keep in mind what Oil Search’s top executive Peter Botten said in his company’s presentation to analysts Nov. 1: Oil Search is one of only two companies in the world where Exxon has ceded operatorship of significant parts of its operations to another company (Papua New Guinea LNG).
“We’ve passed all our operating requirements, safety issues, compliance and overall process and development issues audited by Exxon,” Botten said.
The company will use that experience, apply it to, operations in Alaska, he said.
Finally, in its Nov. 1 presentation Oil Search officials spoke of bidding against other companies for Armstrong’s deal, including some that came in with higher bids.
It wasn’t a formal auction - just a careful selection by Armstrong to identify the five companies best suited to be their partners in Alaska.
Bill Armstrong, who had been following Oil Search for almost three years, chose the ASX company because he thought it was the best choice to move Alaska exploration and development forward.
- KAY CASHMAN