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Vol. 16, No. 17 Week of April 24, 2011
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Pioneer applies to add leases to Oooguruk for onshore Nuna project

Pioneer Natural Resources has applied to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to expand the Oooguruk unit, offshore Alaska’s North Slope, to accommodate the company’s planned Nuna project, a project that involves onshore drilling to tap into oil in the relatively shallow Torok formation, above the currently producing Oooguruk oil reservoirs.

Pioneer wants to add five leases to the southwest side of the unit, so that the unit will encompass the entire Torok reservoir, thus enabling the company to develop the whole of what it has referred to as the Moraine prospect.

3,000-foot well

The company has already drilled a 3,000-foot well from the offshore Oooguruk gravel island into the northern end of the prospect and has reported an initial flow rate of 1,100 barrels per day of oil from that well. But the Torok reservoir juts out through the current southern unit boundary, at some considerable distance from the island.

In a Nuna project description submitted to DNR in early December, Pioneer said that it anticipated constructing two new onshore drill sites on the east side of the Colville River, to enable the development of the southerly parts of the prospect. Development will require extended reach drilling.

Gravel roads would connect the new drill sites to the existing North Slope road system.

Production from the new onshore drill sites would pass through flow lines to a tie in with the Kuparuk River field pipeline infrastructure, on a pad adjacent to Kuparuk drill site 3S. Oooguruk oil is processed through the Kuparuk field production facilities, under a facility sharing agreement with the Kuparuk field owners.

Start offshore

According to an exploration plan submitted by Pioneer along with the Oooguruk unit expansion application, Pioneer plans to develop the northern part of the Torok reservoir in 2011-12, by drilling three new wells from Oooguruk island. During that 2011-12 timeframe the company anticipates establishing pool rules and an initial Torok participating area, the exploration plan says.

A pilot waterflood will enable the evaluation of injection data and reservoir performance — additional geologic and engineering data are needed to characterize the reservoir.

“Primary uncertainties in the Torok are the lateral continuity of thin sand beds and the effective displaceable pore volume,” Pioneer wrote in the exploration plan.

If Torok development from the island proves successful, Pioneer will proceed with the onshore Nuna project in 2013-16. That project would start with the drilling of an appraisal well from an onshore drill site and would potentially include the finalization of facility design and construction; onshore development drilling; and the start of Nuna Torok production, the exploration plan says.

Most of the leases in the proposed expanded unit are owned 70 percent by Pioneer and 30 percent by Eni Petroleum. One lease at the southwest corner of the proposed expansion area is owned 95 percent by ConocoPhillips and 5 percent by Chevron.

—Alan Bailey



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