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Vol. 12, No. 46 Week of November 18, 2007
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

THE EXPLORERS 2007: Escopeta, Renaissance hunt for jack-up

Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

Escopeta Oil has led the effort to bring a mobile offshore drilling unit into Cook Inlet, the body of water in Southcentral Alaska that lies over part of the Cook Inlet oil and gas basin.

That hunt has mainly been for a jack-up rig, but the company has also looked at mobile platforms and drillships. It even considered a permanent platform because it’s so sure that once its offshore Kitchen prospects are drilled, the next step would be development.

Escopeta entered Alaska in 1993. Currently, the Houston-based independent is in the final stage of permitting to drill its North Alexander gas prospect onshore Cook Inlet in 2008. But its crown jewel is its two, adjacent Kitchen prospects offshore the Kenai Peninsula community of Nikiski. Escopeta President Danny Davis thinks the Kitchen unit could contain one of the inlet’s missing giants, per a 2004 U.S. Department of Energy report on the inlet.

“We think we have a possible total resource of 1.2 billion barrels of oil and 7 trillion cubic feet of gas,” Davis said.

He said his company’s East Kitchen prospect is in the same anticlinal structure as Forest Oil’s (now Pacific Energy Resources’) Corsair prospect and Renaissance Alaska’s Northern Lights prospect. Davis said all three prospects, which are separated by faults, hold great promise. That same anticlinal structure also hosts the producing North Cook Inlet gas field.

Renaissance signed deal

Renaissance — and previous owners of Northern Lights — is the other company that has been working to get a mobile offshore drilling unit of some kind into Cook Inlet. Leading that effort has been company executive Mark Landt.

And it’s no wonder: The Northern Lights prospect contains an oil accumulation proven from earlier drilling and thought to contain in the neighborhood of 240 million barrels of oil.

Both Landt and Davis have said they would like to work with each other and other companies to form a consortium to bring a jack-up to Cook Inlet, but each effort to form a consortium has been thwarted — largely because they were a couple of wells short of justifying the expense of a jack-up. One significant player that would not commit to a jack-up was Forest Oil, which at the time had Corsair and other offshore prospects.

But since Pacific Energy took over Forest’s Alaska assets in August 2007, it has been actively trying to get a jack-up to Alaska (see story on page 13).

Both Escopeta and Renaissance are moving forward with permitting their prospects.

Landt told Petroleum News in October 2007 that Renaissance has contracted with Entrix “for permitting and environmental services to submit plans of operations” for the following wells: Northern Lights No. 1, Northern Lights No. 2, Northwest Cook Inlet No. 1 and North Middle Ground Shoal No. 1.

The company has a little insurance, though, if Pacific Energy doesn’t buy a jack-up. Renaissance has “entered into a Letter of Intent with GlobalSantaFe for the High Island VIII Jack-up rig,” Landt said.

All three companies stand to lose leases if they are unable to get their Kitchen Northern Lights and Corsair prospects drilled soon.



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