Escopeta Oil has loaded the Spartan 151 jack-up rig onto a heavy lift vessel at a dock in Freeport, Texas. The vessel is scheduled to set sail on Friday, March 18, Escopeta President Danny Davis told Petroleum News March 17 as this edition went to press.
It will be the first time in more than a decade that a jack-up rig is headed to Alaska. But Escopeta must overcome a few more hurdles before it can begin its exploration campaign in upper Cook Inlet.
The ship will sail around the tip of South America on its way to Cook Inlet. Once the jack-up is unloaded, it must be outfitted with additional equipment before it can begin drilling.
On March 9, two officials from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission flew to Texas to inspect the Spartan 151 but, as expected, said they needed to inspect it again after it arrives in Alaska and blowout prevention equipment is installed and tested.
In February, Davis announced Escopeta was purchasing a 15,000-pound blowout preventer to use on the Spartan 151, a major step-up in the equipment previously used on the rig in the Gulf of Mexico — and the largest blowout preventer ever employed in Cook Inlet.
The blowout preventer and all of its components added an additional $1.5 million to the cost of the program, Davis said at the time, noting it would be installed in Alaska.
He notified AOGCC the rig wouldn’t be fully assembled until it arrived in the state, which was acknowledged in a Feb. 25 letter from AOGCC to Davis, deferring inspection until the Spartan 151 was in Alaska.
Nonetheless, the preliminary inspection was made by AOGCC on March 9, at Davis’ invitation.
“At the time of inspection, Spartan 151 was undergoing modifications for Alaska operations,” Commissioners John Norman and Cathy Foerster told Davis in a March 16 letter following the first inspection. “Key well blowout control equipment was missing from the rig. Commission representatives were advised that the missing equipment would be installed on the drilling unit when it arrives in Alaska. As such, a complete inspection of Spartan 151 was not possible.”
Under an agreement with the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas, Escopeta must have the rig bound for Alaska by March 30 and must drill to a certain depth by Oct. 31.
The company wants to drill Kitchen Lights, an offshore unit in the upper Cook Inlet.
Escopeta is one of two independent oil companies looking to bring a jack-up rig to the Cook Inlet. Buccaneer Alaska is working on a financing plan with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and should have a deal ready for AIDEA board review soon.