Anadarko Petroleum Corp. drilled four historic wells in 2008 and 2009, the first exploration wells in northern Alaska to explicitly target natural gas instead of oil, but the years since have brought only minimal activity from the company in that region.
The large Texas independent drilled the wells in the Gubik Complex, a wide expanse of state, federal and Native leases across the foothills of the Brooks Range Mountains.
Anadarko had hoped to prove up several smaller natural gas fields capable of justifying development as a group. All four wells encountered natural gas, including one well flowing at 15 million cubic feet per day, but as plans for a North Slope natural gas pipeline lagged in the years following the campaign, so did those exploration efforts.
Anadarko did not drill in the Gubik Complex in 2010 or 2011, and during those years it relinquished considerable acreage in more remote corners of its leasehold farther south.
Anadarko partially ended its hiatus in 2012, returning to Gubik conduct a “rigless test” at one of its wells, but the company has not yet released results from the program and does not have on-the-ground exploration work planned for the region this coming winter.
Additionally, Anadarko recently lost some acreage about 20 miles to the east of the easternmost Gubik wells because the leases expired at the end of their primary terms.
The leases near where Anadarko drilled don’t expire until dates in 2014, 2017 and 2018.
Long lasting partnershipsOver the past two decades, Anadarko established a unique presence in Alaska.
As a large independent, the company arrived in the years after North Slope oil production peaked eager to develop a large field that would make it a major player in the state.
Anadarko launched those efforts by partnering with the existing operators on the North Slope, offering its agility as an independent in return for experience in the Arctic.
The most successful of those partnerships remains in effect today.
Anadarko and Phillips Alaska (now ConocoPhillips Alaska) brought the Alpine field into production in 2000, followed by three satellites brought online over the following decade.
The companies are currently working to bring a fourth satellite online.
Aside from a very small ownership interest in Pioneer Natural Resources’ Oooguruk unit, Alpine constitutes Anadarko’s production base in Alaska, some 14,000 barrels per day.
The company spent $39 million on its operations in the state in the first half of 2012.
In addition to Gubik, Anadarko has also pursued other projects to varying levels of success. The Altamura No. 1 well in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska found oil, but low permeability kept Anadarko from moving forward. A well at the geologically unique Jacob’s Ladder prospect just southeast of the Prudhoe Bay unit found “no commercial hydrocarbons.” Lone Creek No. 1 in Cook Inlet discovered commercial quantities of natural gas, but Anadarko ultimately sold its Cook Inlet assets in 2002.