February 19, 2007 --- Vol. 13, No. 14February 2007

BP announces completion of North Slope gas hydrate well

BP has announced the completion of a North Slope stratigraphic test well, designed to test the properties of gas hydrates and the associated hydrate reservoir geology at a prospect in one of the main gas hydrate trends in the central North Slope. The Mount Elbert test well was drilled by Doyon Rig 14 to a depth of 3,000 feet from an ice pad 1.4 miles south of the Milne Point B pad, northwest of the Prudhoe Bay oil field.

The drilling was part of a multi-year project involving a team from industry, government and university, to investigate known gas hydrate deposits in the central North Slope. Gas hydrates concentrate natural gas by combining methane with water to form a solid crystalline substance under certain temperature and pressure conditions.

The well confirmed the presence of gas hydrates, as predicted from an analysis of seismic data. “Our predictions were very correct,” said Ray Boswell, technology manager in the project for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The team is now studying the well cores and well data from the Mount Elbert well, to gain valuable insights into the properties of the hydrates and the associated hydrate-bearing rocks.

“With this project we have significantly increased our understanding of gas hydrate-bearing formations on the Alaska North Slope,” said Scott Digert, BP resource manager and the project’s technical advisor. “The results also illustrate the value of collaborative research.”

ACMP review starts for Shell’s Beaufort OCS program

The 50-day Alaska Coastal Management Program review began Feb. 16 for Shell’s proposed open water drilling program in the Beaufort Sea outer continental shelf.

The 2007 drilling activities would occur offshore approximately 16 miles north of the Point Thomson unit in Camden Bay.

Shell has identified 12 possible locations for geophysical surveys, exploration and appraisal drilling — seven locations with Flaxman Island names on blocks 6658, 6707, 6708, 6709, 6765, 6824, and 6874; four locations with the name Barter Island on blocks 6801, 6802, 6962, and 7117; and one location with the name Harrison Bay on block 6222.

The project description in the public notice said a total of 16 vessels would be operating in the Beaufort in connection with the drilling program in 2007.

Taking into account weather, ice conditions, etc., Shell anticipates geotechnical borings may require eight weeks within a 12-week timeframe ending no later than mid-October.

Deadline for written comments is 5 p.m. on March 19.

Full project activities can be found online at

Note: See full stories in the Feb. 25 issue of Petroleum News, which will be available online at noon Alaska-time on Friday, Feb. 23, at

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