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Vol. 19, No. 10 Week of March 09, 2014
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Furie files its plan

To install Cook Inlet platform, pipelines & onshore facility by October

Alan Bailey

Petroleum News

Furie Operating Alaska has filed a plan of operations with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for the company’s Kitchen Lights unit, offshore in Cook Inlet. The plan envisions the installation of a gas production platform, the Kitchen Lights unit Platform A, in the waters of the inlet, about 10 miles north of Boulder Point, near Nikiski on the Kenai Peninsula, as well as the laying of twin gas pipelines from the platform to an onshore gas processing plant.

Platform installation, the laying of the pipelines and the construction of the onshore facilities will take place in parallel, between April and October 2014, Furie says. The company says that it anticipates first gas flowing from Kitchen Lights into the Kenai Peninsula gas pipeline system in the third or fourth quarter of the year.

New gas field

Since announcing what appeared to be a major gas discovery in its Kitchen Lights unit No. 1 well in 2011, Furie has been tight lipped about the scale of what is clearly a new offshore gas field. On the back of that initial discovery, in March 2012 the company told the state Legislature that the No. 1 well was estimated to have found probable reserves of 750 billion cubic feet.

But Furie’s new plan of operations says that proof of undeveloped gas reserves in the Kitchen Lights unit came with the drilling and flow testing of the Kitchen Lights unit No.3 well, a well drilled in the summer of 2013. Development of this resource is expected to result in the production of up to 30 billion cubic feet of gas per year, with initial production coming from the No. 3 well, but with the possibility of up to six wells eventually being drilled to maximize gas recovery, the plan says. The plan says that each of the twin pipelines will initially transport up to 100 million cubic feet per day of gas.

A statement of discovery that Furie filed with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources in July said the Kitchen Lights unit No. 3 well had encountered multiple productive gas pools in the Sterling and Beluga formations at depths ranging from 3,618 feet to 6,228 feet.

Furie has been conducting offshore exploration and gas-field appraisal drilling using its Spartan 151 jack-up rig.

Monopod platform

The offshore platform will be of monopod design, with a single 18-foot-diameter caisson supporting a production deck 62 feet above mean sea level, a main deck 20 feet above that and a helideck cantilevered to the side, with crew accommodation units below the helideck. Well piping will pass through the caisson to the seafloor. The caisson will be held in place by piles driven approximately 120 feet into the seabed. The platform is engineered to withstand extreme ice and seismic events, and severe storms, Furie’s plan says.

Furie will drill development wells by cantilevering the Spartan jack-up rig’s drilling platform over the drilling floor of the monopod platform. However, the monopod can accommodate a workover rig, should Furie decide to use this type of rig for well maintenance work, the plan says.

And Furie has designed the platform to have well test capabilities, with the ability to measure gas, water and condensate production, the company’s plan says.

A crew of up to 28 people will man the platform during drilling operations, with lower staffing levels being needed at other times.

10-acre site

The twin gas pipelines from the platform to the shore will be 10 inches in diameter and will deliver gas with produced water and sand to onshore processing facilities on a 10-acre site to be cleared near the Cook Inlet Gas Gathering System East Forelands production facility. The pipelines, for much of their distance, will parallel the Cook Inlet Gas Gathering System pipelines on the seafloor, thus minimizing the additional environmental impact of the new pipelines, the plan says. Horizontal directional drilling will be used to create a corridor to enable the pipelines to run underground from the processing facilities, under a coastal bluff and under the shore, to emerge on the seafloor beyond the intertidal zone.

The processing facility will remove water, gas condensate and sand from the raw gas delivered from the platform, thus enabling utility grade gas to be delivered into the Kenai Peninsula gas infrastructure. The impurities removed from the raw gas will be appropriately disposed of, the plan says. Furie has also committed to remove all waste except deck water and domestic wastewater from the offshore platform for disposal at an appropriate onshore facility.

The platform is being pre-fabricated out of state; it will be transported to the Cook Inlet by cargo barge and installed using a derrick barge, Furie says.

No oil spill possibility

Furie says that, with the platform being installed for natural gas production, there is no possibility of an oil spill from the offshore operations. However, the company plans to equip its wells with the usual gear for dealing with a potential well blowout during drilling, including the installation of a blowout preventer and a gas diverter system.

According to the plan Furie has reached out to local Cook Inlet communities and has coordinated with Native organizations and the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council. The company says that it is committed to hiring people locally as much as possible. The company also says that it will recruit local village residents to monitor for protected animal species, as needed, during certain industrial activities.

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NMFS proposes IHA for Furie seismic

The National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, has proposed issuing an incidental harassment authorization for an offshore 3-D seismic survey that Furie Operating Alaska wants to carry out in its Kitchen Lights unit in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. The authorization specifies measures that Furie must take to avoid harm to marine mammals in the inlet and allows some accidental minor disturbance of the animals provided the required mitigation measures are in place.

The Cook Inlet is home to a sub-species of beluga whale and to Steller sea lions, both of which are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

In the summer of 2013 Furie applied to the Alaska’s Division of Oil and Gas for a permit to conduct the survey — the division told Petroleum News on March 5 that it is waiting for some additional information from Furie and meantime has not issued a permit.

According to NMFS’ entry in the Federal Register announcing the proposed authorization, Furie initially applied for an incidental harassment authorization in early 2013 but later decided to postpone the survey to 2014. An incidental harassment authorization is normally valid for a year from the date of issue.

In its application to NMFS Furie says that it has not yet selected a seismic contractor and that the precise nature of the technology used for the survey would depend on which contractor does the work. However, Furie anticipates the need to lay recording nodes on the seafloor, possibly using an ocean-bottom cable system or a system of autonomously recording nodes.

The company anticipates requiring two seismic source vessels, working in tandem and alternately discharging an array of air guns that each tows for generating seismic sound signals. Shallow-draft vessels would lay the seismic nodes on the seafloor, while other small vessels would also support the operation.

The survey would encompass the whole of the Kitchen Lights unit, an area of some 130 square miles, the proposed NMFS authorization says. In its application to NMFS Furie said that, having encountered oil and gas reserves in the unit, the company wants to characterize the structure of the subsurface geology to inform decisions about future drilling.

Comments on the proposed incidental harassment authorization are due by April 3.

—Alan Bailey