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Vol. 22, No. 47 Week of November 19, 2017
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

The Producers 2017: Hilcorp ramping up North Slope work

Milne Point underway, Duck Island beginning, Northstar up next, Liberty enters public comment period

Eric Lidji

For Petroleum News

Hilcorp Alaska LLC is taking a phased approach to its North Slope properties.

The local subsidiary of the Texas-based independent is several years into its efforts to improve production at the Milne Point unit, just beginning major development work at the Duck Island unit and still involved in preliminary activities at the Northstar unit.

The company is also overseeing activities at the federal Liberty project.

Through its acquisition deal with BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Hilcorp owns and operates the Duck Island unit and Northstar unit outright, is the operator and a 50 percent owner of the Milne Point unit and operator and 50 percent owner of the Liberty unit.

Milne Point

The development program at Milne Point is spread across the unit.

According to Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records, Hilcorp drilled at least nine wells and sidetracks at Milne Point in calendar year 2016: L-47 in February, B-28 and B-29 in March, J-23A in April, J-27 and K-44 in May, J-28 in June, C-15A in July and L-50 in November. The company also performed 16 workovers in 2016.

Through the first half of this year, the company had drilled five wells - J24A in January, B-32 in March, B33 and B-34 in April and B-30 in June. The company also received permits for the new C-45, C-46 and C-47 wells and conducted seven workover projects.

Recent activity at B pad included the B-28 lateral producer and B-29 later injector into the Schrader ND sand, the B-32 lateral producer and B-33 lateral injector into the Schrader NC sand and the B-34 injector into the Ugnu, part of a recent grind and inject project. The J pad program included the J-23A and J-24A sidetrack lateral injectors into the Schrader NB sand and the J-27 and J-28 lateral producers into the Schrader NB sand.

The L pad program included the L-47 lateral producer and L-50 lateral injector, both targeting the lower lobe of the Schrader OA sand. The K-44 producer targeting the Kuparuk C/B sands and the C-15A sidetrack producer targeted the Sag River formation.

For the development year beginning July 2017, Hilcorp plans to drill as many as 18 wells. The program would include wells at four pads and at all three formations at the unit. The company is also planning as many as 16 workover projects on existing wells.

According to its plan, Hilcorp will drill as many as 10 wells at F pad (four producers and five injectors into the Schrader Bluff OA sands and one Sag River producer), five wells at L pad (two producers and two injectors into the Schrader Bluff N sands and one Sag River producer), two wells at E pad (one producer and one injector into the Schrader Bluff formation) and one well at C pad (an injector into the Kuparuk formation).

Earlier this year, the company completed its first season of construction activity on the new 44-well Moose Pad, which would target Kuparuk and Schrader Bluff oil in the western end of the unit. Work will continue this winter with a road, pad and facilities.

The company expects to begin drilling activities starting next year, with first oil scheduled for late 2018. A full development program, with as many as 70 wells, could produce between 30 million and 50 million barrels, according to the company. The company expects peak production between 12,000 and 18,000 barrels per day.

The company will develop the Moose pad using the new, custom-built Innovation rig, which is already operating at the unit. The company is touting the rig as the lightest modular rig on the North Slope. The rig’s ability to drill closely spaced wells will allow it to operate at the Endicott field and the Northstar unit, in addition to Milne Point.

Hilcorp is also planning an expansion at E pad, allowing for an additional eight wells.

“On the North Slope we are particularly bullish on the opportunities at Milne Point, where we believe a significant resource still remains to be recovered, from light oil trapped in deep reservoir rocks to heavy oil in the shallower Schrader Bluff and Ugnu formations,” Hilcorp Alaska Senior Vice President David Wilkins said in May 2017. “We see plenty of reasons for investment and hundreds of wells yet to be drilled.”

The Milne Point unit produced 7.1 million barrels in 2014, 6.8 million barrels in 2015, 7.2 million barrels in 2016 and 3.5 million barrels through the end of June 2017, according to the AOGCC. Cumulative production at June 2017 was 339.5 million barrels.

Duck Island (Endicott)

Having completed some preliminary workover activities at the Duck Island unit in recent years, Hilcorp is now transitioning into a major re-development program at the unit.

The company is planning a seven-well development program at the Duck Island unit in the year starting July 1. The program would include at least one new well and as many as six sidetracks, according to the most recent plan of development. Additional candidates for sidetracking will likely come from currently shut-in wells, according to the company.

In early August 2017, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued a permit for Hilcorp to drill the Duck Island Unit SDI 3-23A well into the Endicott pool. The well would be the first at the unit since BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. drilled the Duck Island Unit SDI 4-04A/T30 production well in 2009 and the first well with Hilcorp as operator.

Hilcorp is also planning at least two workover projects in the coming year.

In the year ending July 2017, Hilcorp undertook a major workover program at Duck Island. The company completed at least 12 workover projects in 2016, expected to complete another 10 project this year through July 1 and had three other projects underway that would last into the second half of 2017, according to its development plan.

The unit produced 2.7 million barrels in 2014, 2.5 million barrels in 2015, 2.5 million barrels in 2016 and 1.3 million barrels this year through the end of June, according to the AOGCC. Cumulative production was 485.4 million barrels through June 2017.

Northstar

Hilcorp has yet to drill any wells at the Northstar unit, focusing instead on workover projects at existing wells and on maintenance activities at facilities and infrastructure.

For the year ending July 2017, the company conducted seven workover projects at the unit - five at the Northstar participating area and two at the Hooligan participating area.

The company also completed some facility upgrades during the year.

For the coming year, running through July 2018, the company is planning three workovers projects at Northstar - one at each of the unit’s participating areas. The company is also planning some facility upgrades and some pipeline maintenance.

The last new wells drilled at the Northstar unit were in early 2009, when BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. drilled the Northstar Unit NS-33A sidetrack as a producing well.

Northstar produced 3.2 million barrels in 2014, 2.2 million barrels in 2015, 2.0 million barrels in 2016 and 1.2 million barrels this year through the end of June 2017, according to the AOGCC. Cumulative production was 168.2 million barrels through June 2017.

Liberty

As part of their new partnership, Hilcorp and BP took another look at the Liberty field, which had been on hold after BP cancelled an earlier plan for developing the field.

Hilcorp submitted a revised development plan to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in late 2014 that called for developing the estimated 80 million to 150 million barrel oil field from an artificial gravel island and a buried subsea pipeline.

The federal agency released a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the project in mid-August 2017, organized a series of local public meetings starting in early October 2017 and launched a public comment period running through mid-November 2017.

“Not only have similar proposals of the Liberty project been vetted and approved before, but gravel-based energy facilities have a proven record of safe operations, with some in production for over a decade in the Beaufort Sea,” Hilcorp’s Senior Vice President for Alaska David Wilkins said. “We are eager to work with the communities across the North Slope and our partners throughout the state to develop a project that will greatly benefit Alaska and bring greater domestic energy security to the country.”

In its development plan, Hilcorp proposed building the new 9.3-acre Liberty island about 7.3 miles southeast of the Endicott satellite drilling island, in about 19 feet of water.

The island would be able to support between five and eight production wells, four and six injection wells and as many as two disposal wells. Infrastructure and facilities on the island would support oil production rates of some 60,000 to 70,000 barrels per day.

The island would be connected to onshore facilities through a 12-inch oil pipeline housed inside of a 16-inch outer pipe. The pipeline would run subsea for approximately 5.6 miles and another 1.5 miles overland until it reached a connection with the Badami pipeline.

Construction would occur in the second and third years of development. Drilling would begin in the second year of development and continue through the fourth. Oil production would begin by the end of the third year or the beginning of the fourth year of development, with an estimated life of approximately 20 years, according to Hilcorp.

The draft EIS included consideration of alternative locations for the gravel island and a plan to site facilities on Endicott Island rather than on Liberty Island, but it dismissed a proposal to access the target through ultra-extended reach drilling as technically infeasible.



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