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Vol. 22, No. 25 Week of June 18, 2017
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Eni plan is published

BOEM invites comment on companyís proposed Nikaitchuq North exploration drilling

Alan Bailey

Petroleum News

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published Eni US Operating Co.ís plan for proposed exploratory drilling into the Nikaitchuq North prospect in the federal outer continental shelf of the Beaufort Sea. Having published the document, the agency says that it now has 30 days to decide whether to approve the plan, or whether to reject the plan or require plan changes. And the decision to make the plan public initiates two public review periods: a 10-day period ending on June 22 for the public to suggest issues for review in an environmental assessment, and a 21-day period ending on July 3 for comments on the plan contents.

Eni wants to drill exceptionally long extended reach wells from an existing drilling pad on Spy Island in nearshore state waters of the Beaufort Sea, to test subsurface targets in OCS leases immediately north of the outer boundary of the state waters. The company has not made any public statement about the nature of the exploration targets in Nikaitchuq North. However, Spy Island is a drilling site for the operational Nikaitchuq oil field in the state Nikaitchuq unit and it appears likely that Eni is seeking an oil play in the Schrader Bluff formation, the rock formation that hosts the oil reservoir for the Nikaitchuq field. The Schrader Bluff formation is known to extend a long way out into the Beaufort Sea continental shelf.

State and federal plans

As previously reported by Petroleum News, in May Alaskaís Division of Oil and Gas published a state version of Eniís Nikaitchuq North plan - with the wells being drilled from state land into federal land, both state and federal plans are required. Both plans contain a list of potential wells to be drilled, with an estimated time schedule for the drilling. The state plan indicates that the number of wells actually drilled will depend on the drilling results.

Eni proposes to drill two extended reach wells: the NN01 and NN02 wells. Drilling of the NN01 well is planned to begin in mid-December of this year, continuing to mid-February. Flow testing of the well would then take until mid-March to complete. The company may then drill a sidetrack well and conduct flow testing of that, completing the sidetrack in mid-April and the flow testing in mid-May.

If the company decides to proceed with the NN02 well, drilling of that well would start at the beginning of December, 2018, with drilling continuing to mid-February, 2019. Flow testing of the NN02 well would be completed by mid-March, 2019. Drilling and flow testing of a lateral from NN02 would take place between late March, 2019, and late May, 2019.

Drilling depths

The federal plan says that the NN01 well will drill to a vertical depth of 8,131 feet along a trajectory with a measured depth of 34,150 feet. The NN02 well will target a vertical depth of 8,329 feet with a measured depth of 38,173 feet. The state plan says that the sidetrack wells may be 1,000 feet in length.

Such extreme extended reach drilling will require a powerful drilling rig. The federal plan confirms that Eni plans to use Doyon Rig 15 but says that the rig will be upgraded for the Nikaitchuq North operations. Upgrades will include increasing the top drive torque from 63,000 foot pounds to 72,000 foot pounds and increasing the pressure rating for the drilling mud manifold.

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