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Vol. 14, No. 19 Week of May 10, 2009
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

New finds in NPR-A

Conoco reports Mooses Tooth oil; 5 other companies finish winter drilling

Eric Lidji

Petroleum News

ConocoPhillips on May 4 announced test results from two wells drilled in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska in recent winters: Pioneer No. 1 and the Rendezvous No. 2.

“Test production rates for these wells ranged from about 500 barrels of oil per day to as high as 1,300 barrels of oil per day of high API gravity oil” and gas production rates “averaged about 1.5 million cubic feet per day for each well,” the company said.

ConocoPhillips drilled Pioneer No. 1 this past March. The company drilled Rendezvous No. 2 in early 2001 and returned to test the well last winter. The two wells are in the Greater Mooses Tooth unit, southwest of the Colville River unit and the Alpine field.

ConocoPhillips isn’t planning to further delineate Pioneer or Rendezvous for the time being, the company said, adding that the two accumulations “will be pursued as possible satellite developments with processing at the Alpine facilities in the Colville River Unit.”

The Bureau of Land Management approved the Greater Mooses Tooth unit in early 2008, consolidating leases and prospects held by ConocoPhillips and Anadarko. ConocoPhillips holds a 78 percent interest in the unit and Anadarko holds the remaining 22 percent.

ConocoPhillips has been the most active explorer in NPR-A over the past decade, drilling 20 wells since the federal government reopened the reserve to leasing in 1999.

Discoveries announced in 2001

Phillips Petroleum, a predecessor to ConocoPhillips, and Anadarko announced their first NPR-A discoveries in May 2001. Over the previous two winters, the companies had found oil, natural gas or condensate from five wells and a sidetrack drilled in what is now Mooses Tooth. A sixth well targeting a different geologic interval was deemed a dry hole.

In announcing the discoveries in May 2001, Phillips said one well, Spark No. 1A, tested at 1,550 barrels per day of liquid hydrocarbons and 26.5 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, while another well, Rendezvous A, tested at an unstimulated rate of 360 barrels per day of liquid hydrocarbons and 6.6 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Rendezvous A is three miles northwest of Rendezvous No. 2.

Following those first two seasons in NPR-A, ConocoPhillips began delineating its discoveries while also venturing further west to drill in more remote parts of the reserve.

In early 2007, ConocoPhillips partnered with Pioneer Natural Resources to drill a pair of remote wells, including one more than 200 miles from the Alpine production facilities.

Costing about $60 million apiece, either well would have needed to strike huge finds to be worth pursuing. ConocoPhillips deemed both “non-commercial” in May 2007.

The results of those wells lead ConocoPhillips to focus its attention on prospects closer to Alpine, drilling or re-entering five wells in the area over the past two exploration seasons.

The company also applied to form Greater Mooses Tooth, the first federal unit in NPR-A.

Pioneer No. 1 is in the southeast corner of the unit. Rendezvous No. 2 is six miles to the west. ConocoPhillips also drilled Grandview No. 1 this winter, six miles further west beyond Rendezvous No. 2, in the southwest corner of the Greater Mooses Tooth unit.

ConocoPhillips previously indicated Mooses Tooth could hold as many as five reservoirs.

Anadarko drills three wells

ConocoPhillips’ announcement is the first find this year, but not the only winter drilling.

Anadarko drilled three wells this winter to look for natural gas in the foothills of the Brooks Range and “all encountered natural gas,” according to a partner in the program.

The Texas-based independent drilled the Chandler No. 1 well using Nabors rig 105-E and drilled the Wolf Creek No. 4 and Gubik No. 4 wells using the Doyon Arctic Fox rig.

“Drilling operations were completed for the Wolf Creek and Gubik wells so they were plugged and abandoned. The Chandler well was suspended for possible future testing,” Petro-Canada, a partner, wrote in first-quarter financial filings released April 28.

BG Group is also a partner in the multi-year effort to determine whether gas prospects across the foothills of the Brooks Range can be developed economically. The prospects cover an area of state, Native and federal land Anadarko calls “the Gubik Complex.”

UltraStar finished drilling

UltraStar appears to have completed the Dewline No. 1 well north of Prudhoe Bay.

Jim Weeks, managing member of UltraStar, previously said the well would be a tight venture. The company has not yet released results from the drilling program.

Weeks described Dewline No. 1 as a 9,900-foot well to target a prospect in the Ivishak formation and “secondary targets” in the shallower Sag River and Kuparuk formations.

UltraStar used the Doyon Arctic Wolf rig for the project.

Chevron wells in White Hills

In the central North Slope, Chevron apparently finished drilling early in the season.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission began listing Chevron’s exploration season as “completed” as early as mid-March, but didn’t say how many wells the company ultimately drilled in its exploration venture in the White Hills prospect.

Rig reports through the winter suggested Chevron drilled at least two wells this year: Muskoxen 36-7-8 and Bluebuck 6-7-9, both located toward the northern end of prospect.

White Hills is located south of the Kuparuk River unit, near the Dalton Highway.

Reports from the oil patch suggested Chevron might have suspended some winter work.

Chevron has previously declined to discuss White Hills, calling it a “tight” venture.

Savant suspends Badami well

Savant Alaska suspended operations on a well at the Badami unit in late April.

The independent company drilled the Badami B1-38 well to a measured depth of 12,874 feet. Savant drilled the well from an existing gravel pad at Badami using Doyon rig 16, which has since been sent back to Prudhoe Bay, where it is under contract to BP.

The company suspended drilling to comply with seasonal North Slope travel restrictions.

“We are formulating plans to resume operations either this coming summer or next winter,” Savant executive Greg Vigil told Petroleum News in an e-mail on May 1.

Badami B1-38 is targeting the Red Wolf prospect in the Kekiktuk, a deeper and older geologic formation than the Brookian where previous Badami development occurred.

To access Badami, Savant partnered with ExxonMobil to build and maintain an ice road to the eastern North Slope. Exxon continued eastward to reach facilities at Point Thomson.

Exxon mobilized Nabors rig 27-E at Point Thomson this winter, part of a program to drill two wells there by the end of 2010 in order to start production from the field by 2014.

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