The Explorers 2010: Anadarko Petroleum
Most independents come to Alaska looking for smaller fields passed over by the majors, but Anadarko Petroleum arrived in the early 1990s looking for big “anchors.” The large Texas independent formed partnerships with much bigger players, offering fresh ideas in return for first-hand Arctic experience. The most successful of those partnerships has been with ConocoPhillips and its predecessor companies. Anadarko and Phillips Alaska brought the Alpine oil field online in 2000 and have since developed several satellites of the field just west of the Kuparuk River unit. Anadarko and ConocoPhillips are now partnering to develop Greater Mooses Tooth, the first unit in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, but federal permitting problems this year stalled that effort. Anadarko leases some 4 million acres in Alaska and had net production of some 17,000 net barrels of oil per day this year. Over two decades, Anadarko has pursued other targets in Alaska with other partners, to varying degrees of success. Anadarko found gas in Cook Inlet, but sold the acreage, and hit pay with the Altamura No. 1 wildcat, but abandoned the well after encountering low permeability. More recently, Anadarko drilled, but then relinquished, the Jacob’s Ladder unit, a geologically unique prospect southeast of Prudhoe Bay.
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Anadarko is now focused on exploring for natural gas in the Gubik Complex, in the western foothills of the Brooks Range. In 2008 and 2009, Anadarko and partners BG and Petro-Canada drilled four wells, all encountering natural gas. Anadarko did not drill in 2010, though, and said it likely wouldn’t drill in 2011 either. The company still hopes to put together another multiyear program, but relinquished some 300,000 acres this summer, saying it couldn’t arrange a drilling program in remote corners of the prospect before those leases expired. Success at Gubik now depends on several factors outside Anadarko’s control, including the fate of several out-of-state and in-state natural gas pipeline proposals, and whether partner Suncor, which inherited a stake in Gubik by acquiring Petro-Canada, stays in Alaska. However, Anadarko stands to gain from renewed state efforts to build roads to Umiat and Nome. As BP’s partner in the Gulf of Mexico, Anadarko could be on the hook for some of the multibillion dollar clean-up costs after a major summer oil spill, a liability the company is strongly contesting.
Current exploration focus:
Northern Alaska: Along with operator ConocoPhillips, Anadarko continues to explore in the northeast National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, seeking more satellite fields to connect to the Alpine field infrastructure, but plans for the first NPR-A oil production have been delayed since the federal government denied the companies a key permit in February.
Northern Alaska: In 2008 and 2009, Anadarko drilled exploration and delineation wells around known natural gas fields in Gubik Complex in the foothills of the Brooks Range mountains, but did not drill in 2010 and has not announced future drilling plans.
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