Three more wells
Repsol plans two appraisal wells and one exploration well for this winter
As soon as the weather and ground conditions allow, Repsol E&P USA Inc. is going to start prepacking ice roads for another busy winter drilling season on Alaska’s North Slope, Bill Hardham, the company’s Alaska operations manager, told Petroleum News on Oct. 14. The company plans to drill three wells this winter, Hardham said.
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“Our activity level should be about as it was last year,” Hardham said. “We do have plans to operate three drilling rigs on the Slope this winter.”
Two of the wells, the Qugruk No. 5 and Qugruk No. 7, will appraise a hydrocarbon discovery that the company made last winter in its Qugruk prospect, near the Beaufort Sea coast between the Colville River unit and the Oooguruk unit. The third well, the Tuttu No. 1, will be an exploration well in the Schrader Bluff/West Sak area, close to the Kuparuk River unit, some distance to the east of where Repsol has previously drilled, Hardham said.
Hardham declined to comment on the target for the Tuttu well.
He said Repsol plans to use the Nabors 99, 105 and 106 drilling rigs for the drilling program and that the company is in the process of finalizing the contracts for these rigs.
Seismic surveysRepsol also plans to shoot two 3-D seismic surveys this winter, Hardham said. One of those surveys will cover an approximately 190-square-mile area in the extreme northern part of the Colville River Delta and extend offshore on land-fast ice of the nearshore Beaufort Sea. The other survey, covering an area of about 290-square miles, will be in the Schrader Bluff area, immediately adjacent the Kuparuk river unit and including the location of the Tuttu well.
To date Repsol has been formulating its drilling plans using existing 3-D seismic data that it has obtained under license, Hardham said.
Ice pads and roadsRepsol plans to drill each of the new Qugruk wells from individual ice drilling pads, while also constructing a third ice pad to house a camp that will support both drilling operations, Hardham said. The company also plans an ice airstrip on a frozen lake, he said. An 18-mile ice road will connect to a gravel pad that Brooks Range Petroleum has constructed for its own operations — Repsol has an agreement with Brooks Range to site a logistic base and small camp on the pad, to support the Qugruk drilling project.
A four-mile ice road from an existing gravel pad in the ConocoPhillips-operated Kuparuk River unit will provide access to the Tuttu drilling site, Hardham said.
Aggressive planRepsol first entered the Alaska oil and gas industry in 2007, when the company joined a Shell/Eni partnership in 64 offshore leases in the Beaufort Sea. However, the Spanish oil major’s Alaska activities took off in a big way in 2011 when, having taken a 70 percent interest in 157 state leases onshore and in the nearshore Beaufort Sea, the company announced a plan to drill 15 exploration wells in a single winter season.
The company, which had acquired its interest in the state leases from 70 & 148 LLC and GMT Exploration Co. LLC, said that the North Slope of Alaska was the type of oil-rich region with relatively low exploratory risk that the company was interested in as a means of expanding its oil and gas portfolio in politically stable parts of the world. However, following severe winter cold and a gas kick that spewed drilling mud from one of its wells, the company ended up completing just two of the planned wells, the Kachemak No. 1 and the Qugruk No. 4, during the winter of 2011-12.
Hydrocarbon findsUndaunted, the company returned to the North Slope in the winter of 2012-13, eventually completing three more wells, the Qugruk No. 1, the Qugruk No. 3 and the Qugruk No. 6. The company said that the No. 1 well and No. 6 well had produced two hydrocarbon shows with “encouraging results during production tests,” while the No. 3 well identified “hydrocarbons at multiple levels.”
This winter’s two Qugruk wells are designed to further delineate those finds.
When in 2011 Repsol applied to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for the formation of a Qugruk exploration unit from its leases and some adjacent leases in the Qugruk area, the company said that it was seeking hydrocarbons in the upper portion of the Kingak Shale, the Cretaceous Kup “C” sand and several sands within the Cretaceous Nanushuk Group.
The department ultimately approved the unit, although in a cut-down version of what Repsol had requested.
Development planningHardham told Petroleum News that Repsol is looking at development options for the Qugruk prospect, should the discovery at the prospect prove economic. Any development at the prospect would involve a pipeline connecting to existing North Slope infrastructure, but the specific details of how a field at the prospect might be hooked up have yet to be determined, he said.
Repsol is very concerned about the public referendum on Senate Bill 21, the bill that reformed the Alaska oil production tax, Hardham said, commenting that tax uncertainty makes investment decision making very difficult.
“We definitely support Senate Bill 21,” Hardham said. “The uncertainty is not good for us when we’re talking about these multibillion-dollar decisions.”
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