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Vol. 14, No. 12 Week of March 22, 2009
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Gubik tests 15 mmcf

Petro-Canada offers first glimpse of gas exploration program in Brooks Range

Eric Lidji

Petroleum News

The first dedicated exploration well for natural gas in northern Alaska tested at rates of up to 15 million cubic feet per day, according to a partner in the drilling program.

Petro-Canada, a large Canadian oil and gas company, offered the figures in year-end documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this morning.

Petro-Canada said drilling in the Brooks Range foothills in 2008 resulted in one well “completed as a natural gas discovery,” and another “suspended for re-entry in 2009.”

Although not named explicitly, Petro-Canada is certainly referring to the Gubik No. 3 and Chandler No. 1 wells drilled last winter in the region by Anadarko Petroleum.

Anadarko is the operator of a multiyear and wide-ranging search for natural gas across the state, federal and Native land in the western foothills of the Brooks Range, a package of natural gas prospects the company has begun calling the Gubik Complex.

In testimony before Alaska lawmakers in February, Anadarko spokesman Mark Hanley said the company completed Gubik No. 3 and started Chandler No. 1 last winter. Hanley said Anadarko found gas at Gubik, but needed additional wells to prove up the resource.

Petro-Canada is an equity partner in the drilling program, along with BG E&P.

First new Gubik figures

The test rate offered by Petro-Canada is the first concrete figure given for the program.

It’s also the first new figure to come out of Gubik in almost 60 years, since drilling crews with the U.S. Geological Survey used results from the first two Gubik exploration wells in the early 1950s to estimate that the field contained 600 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Policymakers and the public have been closely following recent work at Gubik, which began in 1998 when Anadarko acquired more than 3.3 million acres in leases across the region, and picked up in 2007 when the three partners announced plans to look for gas.

The program is the first to explicitly target natural gas in northern Alaska. Previous natural gas discoveries came accidentally in the course of searching for oil deposits.

Currently, there is no system in Alaska to move northern natural gas to market.

Some see the Gubik exploration program as a sign Anadarko believes a gas pipeline will be built. Others believe the Gubik Complex could replace declining Cook Inlet reserves.

Petro-Canada acknowledged the uncertain nature of the exploration effort.

“The development of discoveries in this area will depend on the establishment of pipeline infrastructure, including a possible intra-Alaska line running south to service the Fairbanks and Anchorage areas,” Petro-Canada wrote in its year-end financial filings.

The state recently involved itself in an effort to study a 500 million-cubic-foot per-day pipeline from the North Slope to Anchorage, a project commonly called the “bullet line.”

With sufficient reserves, the Gubik Complex could theoretically supply this pipeline.

But the 15 million-cubic-foot-per-day figure from Petro-Canada doesn’t offer conclusive evidence of either the total size of Gubik or the eventual production rate at the field.

Work continues this year

Anadarko and its partners hope to complete three wells this winter.

Anadarko previously confirmed work is under way to finish Chandler No. 1 using Nabors rig 105-E. Once the well is completed, the company will use the rig to drill Gubik No. 4.

Concurrently, Anadarko plans to use the Doyon Arctic Fox rig to drill the Wolf Creek No. 4 well in the northwest planning area of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Federal officials recently told Petroleum News that work has begun on Wolf Creek No. 4.



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