The group of Prudhoe Bay unit fields known as the Greater Point McIntyre Area remains in something of a holding pattern as operator BP Exploration Alaska LLC continues to process the results of a recent seismic survey conducted over the northern end of the unit.
The company completed the offshore portion of the North Prudhoe seismic survey in December 2014 and the onshore portion in April 2015 and expects the processing phase to last at least “one to two years,” according to a recent plan of development.
The results of that survey could reduce the risk of potential drilling projects at several aging fields in the Greater Point McIntyre Area by “improving the structure map over the field and understanding of subsurface areas of interest,” according to the company.
BP files three plans of development each year for the Prudhoe Bay unit - one for the Initial Participating Areas early in the year, one for the Greater Point McIntyre Area in the middle of the year and one for the Western Satellites toward the end of the year.
The Greater Point McIntyre Area includes six fields. The Point McIntyre and Lisburne fields are the largest, followed by Raven, Niakuk, North Prudhoe Bay and West Beach.
LisburneOf those, only the Lisburne field saw new drilling over the past year.
BP Exploration drilled three wells at the field - L1-23, L3-03 and L3-10 - and performed 31 rate-adding non-rig workover projects on 26 existing wells at the field. The company expects to drill two additional wells during the upcoming period - L1-13 and L5-12A - and is considering several additional drilling locations pending the result of those wells.
The Lisburne field produced some 5,800 barrels per day of crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids in the year ending March 31, 2016 - up from 4,800 bpd during the same period in 2015 and down from 6,400 bpd during the same period in 2014.
Lisburne produced some 117.3 million cubic feet of gas per day during the reporting period - up from 91.4 mmcfpd in 2015 and down from 124.1 mmcfpd in 2015. Most of the gas produced at Greater Point McIntyre is re-injected to improve oil production.
Those production rates yielded a gas-to-oil ratio (standard cubic feet divided by stock tank barrels of oil) of 20,071 in 2016, 19,224 in 2015 and 19,269 in 2014. The high and increasing ratio impacts oil production, as ambient temperatures in the region influence the efficiency rates of compressors that determine oil off-take rates, according to the company.
One strategy BP is using to reduce the gas-to-oil ratio and increase oil production involves intermittent production cycles, rather than continuous production. Certain wells are produced for several days at a time followed by days or even weeks of being shut-in.
Point McIntyre, Niakuk, RavenDrilling at the other fields depends partially on the results of the seismic survey.
The Point McIntyre field produced 15,410 barrels of liquids per day in the year ending March 31, 2016, down from 16,370 bpd during the same period of 2015 and 18,520 bpd in the same period of 2014. The field produced 62.5 billion cubic feet of gas during the 2016 period, down from 69.6 bcf in the 2015 period and 62.4 bcf during the 2014 period.
The Niakuk field produced 1,110 barrels of liquids per day during the 2016 period - up from 1,020 bpd during the 2015 period and down from 2,300 bpd during the 2014 period.
Niakuk produced 800 million cubic feet of gas during the 2016 period - up from 300 mmcf during the 2015 period and down from 1 bcf during the 2014 period.
While BP reported no drilling activity at either field in the 2016 period, the company described an “active” non-rig workover program at both fields. The company performed one rigged project at the Point McIntyre field to repair a casing leak at the P1-14 well and restore the well to normal injection in March 2016, and seven projects at Niakuk.
The Raven field produced 130 barrels of liquids per day during the 2016 period - down from 170 bpd during the 2015 period and 310 bpd during the 2014 period. The field produced 730 million cubic feet of gas during the 2016 period - up from 590 mmcf during the 2015 period and up from 700 mmcf during the 2014 period.
North Prudhoe Bay, West BeachThe North Prudhoe Bay field and the West Beach field both started oil production in 1993 but have been shut-in since February 2000 and January 2001, respectively.
Restarting production at North Prudhoe Bay would require repairs to the sole production well and also overcoming geological challenges in the Ivishak and Sag River formations, according to BP. Restarting production at West Beach would require an internal pipeline integrity inspection, or “smart pig,” according to BP. In both cases, the results of the seismic survey could potential hasten development work by reducing technical risks.