Companies line up at least 7 winter Arctic exploration wells
With winter approaching in northern Alaska and the time for pre-preparing ice roads nearly here, a picture of the upcoming exploration drilling season in the Arctic is starting to emerge. And it appears that companies will drill at least seven exploration wells on and around the North Slope.
NordAqParticularly intriguing are the intentions of NordAq Energy, the company that has filed an oil spill response plan intimating an intent to commence exploration drilling in state leases the company owns in Smith Bay, off the northern coast of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. On Oct. 16 Chick Underwood, the company’s land manager, told Petroleum News that NordAq anticipates starting drilling in Smith Bay, “probably towards March,” using a drilling rig operating from an ice island. The company’s spill response plan says that drilling would end by April 21.
Underwood said that NordAq plans to transport drilling equipment and materials to Smith Bay overland, using Rolligon tundra-certified vehicles. However, the company is still negotiating the use of a drilling rig, he said.
ConocoPhillipsConocoPhillips has said that it anticipates drilling two exploration wells this winter but has yet to confirm approval of that drilling. Meantime the company has declined to say which wells it will drill — bets among pundits favor drilling in the northeastern NPR-A, probably in the Moose’s Tooth unit where the company has recently staked four prospective well sites.
Repsol E&P USA Inc. plans to drill three wells in its Qugruk prospect this winter, although two of these wells are appraisal wells for an oil find from last winter. The company is near to closing on contracts for the rigs it needs for its drilling.
Linc energyLinc Energy Ltd. plans to drill one well and may drill a second well at the Umiat prospect in the Brooks Range foothills this winter, as part of an appraisal program for a known oil resource at the prospect. The company had stacked the Kuukpik No. 5 rig at Umiat over the summer, following last winter’s drilling program.
Brooks Range Petroleum Corp. has yet to make any public statement about exploration drilling that it may carry out in the coming winter — the company is in the process of developing a new oil field in its Mustang prospect.
Great BearGreat Bear Petroleum, the company wanting to develop shale oil resources on the North Slope, has said that it plans to do some further test drilling as part of its shale oil program but has remained tight lipped on where and when it will do that drilling.
Royale Energy Inc., another company with aspirations to develop North Slope shale oil, has told Petroleum News that it will not drill on the North Slope this winter. And Savant Alaska LLC, the company operating the Badami oil field to the east of the central North Slope, has told Petroleum News that it has no exploration drilling plans for the winter.