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Vol. 13, No. 23 Week of June 08, 2008
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Conoco spuds Beluga River unit well

BRU 243-34 first step in satisfying agreement with the state, increasing production in Cook Inlet; four more wells could follow

Eric Lidji

Petroleum News

ConocoPhillips spud the BRU 243-34 development well in the Cook Inlet basin on May 31.

The well is one of two ConocoPhillips plans to drill in the onshore Beluga River unit this year to target the Beluga formation, and one of five the company has planned for Cook Inlet this year. The other three would be in the offshore North Cook Inlet unit.

ConocoPhillips drilled the well with a Nabors rig.

The Beluga River unit sits north of the village of Tyonek along the west bank of Cook Inlet. ConocoPhillips operates the unit, but shares ownership equally with Chevron and the Anchorage electric utility Municipal Light and Power.

BRU 243-34 is in section 34, of Township 13N, Range 10W of the Seward Meridian.

ConocoPhillips hopes to drill the well to an estimated total depth of 3,553 feet to hit the top of the Beluga interval.

Well satisfies deal with state

The well helps satisfy the terms of a deal among ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and the state to increase production in Cook Inlet and convince federal regulators to extend a license for exporting Alaska liquefied natural gas to markets in East Asia.

The U.S. Department of Energy approved the extension on June 3 (see story in this issue).

The deal with the state required ConocoPhillips to prepare to drill two wells at Beluga River this year, and additional wells at North Cook Inlet if “market conditions warrant.”

The agreement also required Marathon to prepare to drill five wells this year: two in the Ninilchik unit and three in the Kenai gas field. Marathon announced plans for those wells earlier in the year.

The agreement helped make 2008 one of the busiest on record for ConocoPhillips in the Cook Inlet. The company hasn’t been this active in the Cook Inlet since 1993.

Wells required spacing exemptions

The state and the companies hope to offset production declines by squeezing more natural gas from these legacy fields.

Beluga River and North Cook Inlet are among the oldest and most prolific natural gas fields in the Cook Inlet, producing more than 2.75 trillion cubic feet of gas through the end of 2006, according to the most recent state figures.

As a result of historic drilling at the fields over the years, the drilling program at Beluga River and North Cook Inlet ran afoul of state codes requiring gas wells to be more than 3,000 feet from existing gas wells tapping the same reservoir.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently issued two spacing exemptions to ConocoPhillips for the two Beluga River unit wells.

The exemptions cover BRU 243-34 and BRU 211-26, the other well planned for the Beluga River unit this year.

BRU 211-26 would be in section 23, T13N, R10W SM and move to the southwest to target a different spot on the top of the Beluga interval at an estimated total depth of 3,588 feet.



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