Despite an overall reduction of development activity, ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. experienced a notable increase in oil production at the Kuparuk River unit in 2017.
The second-most productive unit in Alaska produced 109,100 barrels per day in 2017, up from an average of 103,000, according to a recent plan of development for the unit.
The main Kuparuk oil field produced 84,100 bpd in 2017, up from 78,100 bpd in 2016. The remaining oil production came from the four Kuparuk satellites, although only the West Sak satellite reported a slight increase last year.
ConocoPhillips attributed 7,500 bpd of incremental oil production to a 16-well (and 42-lateral) coiled tubing drilling program implemented at the Kuparuk oil field last year, down from a 20-well (and 55-lateral) coiled tubing program from 2016 that had been credited with only 3,500 bpd of incremental production. The company also drilled four rotary wells in 2017 at the Kuparuk participating area (and another six as part of its West Sak development), compared with eight rotary wells at Kuparuk in 2016.
An associated workover program at the Kuparuk field yielded no increase over last year. The company attributed 2,000 bpd to a rigged workover program and another 8,000 bpd to non-rig well work at the Kuparuk field, compared with 1,600 bpd for rigged well and 10,700 bpd from non-rig work in 2016.
For the current year, ConocoPhillips is planning a slight increase in drilling activity at the main Kuparuk field, with 17 coiled tubing sidetracks and five rotary wells. The company is currently developing the main Kuparuk field from 866 active wells - 471 producers and 395 injectors, including 116 water-alternating-gas injectors - equivalent to 2016.
The recent activity at the Kuparuk field reflects the results of the Kuparuk West Sak 3-D seismic program from 2005 and the Western Kuparuk 3-D seismic program from 2011.
But the company has also been engaging in a broader infrastructure-led exploration strategy, where exploration targets close to existing production are given higher priority.
Among those projects is a program targeting the Cretaceous Brookian Moraine interval from Drill Site 3S. The company has been monitoring the reservoir for years from a pair of wells - 3S-613 and 3S-620 - and intends a drill a follow-up pair in 2019. Another exploration project involves 17,920 acres near Drill Site 2S, added in December 2017.
Through the end of 2017, the Kuparuk field had produced 2.44 billion cumulative barrels.
West SakThe only other production bump came from the West Sak satellite
West Sak produced 13,818 bpd from 119 active wells - 60 producers and 59 injectors - in 2017, up from 13,701 bpd from 112 active wells in 2016.
The increase in wells came largely but not entirely from the Drill Site 1H program brought online last year. ConocoPhillips drilled two producers - the 3R-101 and 1H-102 multilaterals - and four injectors - 3R-102, 1H-111, 1H-114 and 1H-118. (Figures from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission indicate an additional injection well.)
Through the end of 2017, West Sak had produced 88.6 million cumulative barrels of oil.
The company expects to continue Drill Site 1H development this year. The total 2017-18 program calls for four horizontal multilateral producers and 15 vertical injectors.
A subsequent phase planned for 2019 will target viscous oil at Drill Site 3R. Additional viscous oil opportunities at West Sak exist at Drill Site 1C, Drill Site 1D, Drill Site 3K and Drill Site 3N. Opportunities also remain at Drill Site 1H and Eastern NEWS.
Meltwater, Tabasco, TarnThe remaining three Kuparuk satellites all experienced production declines last year.
The Meltwater satellite southwest of the main field produced 947 bpd in 2017, down from 1,326 bpd in 2016. The satellite was being developed from 15 active wells in 2017 - nine producers and six injectors - down one injector from 2016.
Through the end of 2017, Meltwater had produced 19.7 million cumulative barrels of oil.
The decline in oil production came, in some measure, from increased natural gas production. A three-week shut-in of the satellite in June 2017 measured back pressure to determine how much oil was being backed out of a common production line due to natural gas production and placed the total at approximately 900 bpd.
While gas flooding remains an efficient tool for enhanced recovery at Meltwater, the increasing gas-to-oil ratio is threatening the economics of some wells, according to ConocoPhillips. The company plans to convert to water flood in late 2018 or early 2019.
The Tabasco satellite produced 1,380 bpd in 2017, down from 1,430 bpd in 2016 from a similar profile of active wells - four producers and two injectors.
Through the end of 2017, Tabasco had produced 20.1 million cumulative barrels of oil.
The Tarn satellite produced 7,800 bpd in 2017, down from 8,400 bpd in 2016, despite an identical active well profile - 39 producers and 24 injectors.
Through the end of 2017, Tarn had produced 121.6 million cumulative barrels of oil.