December 01, 2005 --- Vol. 11, No. 98December 2005

Five North Slope exploration wells likely this winter

Three oil companies are planning to drill a total of five exploration wells on Alaska’s North Slope this winter, two of them wildcats and three closer to infrastructure.

FEX, a subsidiary of independent Talisman Energy, is drilling the two wildcats in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Independent Pioneer Natural Resources is looking at two wells — one in its NE Storms unit and one in the Cronus unit where AVCG and ConocoPhillips are also owners.

And ConocoPhillips filed a lease exploration plan Nov. 29 for one well at its Antigua prospect. ConocoPhillips told the state it hopes to start ice road and pad construction Jan. 15 and initiate drilling in March using the new Arctic Fox No. 1 rig, designed at Pioneer’s request by JV partners Doyon Drilling and Akita Drilling.

After Pioneer has finished drilling at NE Storms and Cronus the Arctic Fox will be moved to Antigua.

A first-time operator in Alaska, FEX (formerly called Fortuna) is looking at an aggressive wildcat exploration program in NPR-A, starting with the two wells this winter, which will be drilled by Nabors Rig 16E near the eastern border of the Northwest Planning Area.

The company is looking at drilling approximately eight NPR-A wells (from seven ice pads) in the next two years, which would require adding at least one more rig for next year’s winter drilling season.

Seven drill site locations have been identified for the following wells — Aklaq 1, Aklaq 2B, Aklaq 1A, Aklaqyaaq 1, Aklaq 2, Amaguq 1, Aklaq 2A. Four additional drill sites — Uugaq, Kanayuq, Siulik and Agviq — were identified by FEX as possible future drill locations.

The company is up against time constraints to finish two wells this season, partly because not all of the drilling equipment was barged to the staging area at Cape Simpson during the 2005 open water season, largely due to bad weather.

Also pushing the timing envelope was the environmental assessment which BLM public noticed on Nov. 21, announcing the completion of an EA and Proposed Finding of No Significant Impact for FEX’s exploration program. The public review started on Nov. 22 and ends Dec. 12.

Pioneer is planning to drill its two exploration wells using the soon-to-be-delivered Arctic Fox No. 1. The Dallas-based independent filed a plan of operations with the state Division of Oil and Gas in November to drill the Cronus 1 well this winter in the newly approved Cronus exploration unit.

The target is Albian-aged submarine fan turbidite sands in the Torok formation, correlative to the section in the Nanuk 1 well 16 miles to the northwest. Access to the Cronus 1 ice pad will be via an 8-10 mile ice road that travels west from existing facilities at Kuparuk, Drill Site 2P (Meltwater).

Pioneer also plans to drill one of the prospects in its newly approved NE Storms exploration unit south of Prudhoe Bay.

“The primary exploration target is the Ivishak sandstone, with the possibility of encountering other hydrocarbon-bearing sandstones,” the division said.

Editor’s note: See full story in the Dec. 4 edition of Petroleum News.

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