July 31, 2012 --- Vol. 18, No. 54July 2012

Duncan reveals little about first test well, but expects to have oil flowing at year-end

If you attended K&L Gates’ Alaska Shale Conference today to hear Ed Duncan release information about Great Bear Petroleum’s first proof of concept test well on the North Slope, you were disappointed.

Duncan, president of Great Bear, coughed up a minimum of details about the Alcor No. 1, an 11,000-foot near-vertical well that was supposed to spud in early June and take cores of all three major North Slope source rocks, from deepest to shallowest: Shublik, lower Kingak, and an assemblage called the Hue shale and HRZ or GRZ.

Great Bear’s plan was to send core samples to laboratories for testing, to determine the production characteristics of the rocks. The company is pioneering the possibility of oil production on the North Slope using the hydraulic fracturing techniques in source rocks that have proved so successful elsewhere in North America.

Great Bear was expected to have begun coring the shallowest of the three source rocks shortly after July 9, per an interview with Great Bear Vice-President Pat Galvin on that same day.

Here is what Duncan did say in his July 31 speech:

* “Everything is progressing as planned.”

* “The results to date are within our expected outcome.”

In the Q&A session that followed his presentation:

* When asked if he had yet cored the Shublik, the deepest of the rocks, he replied, “Everything is in our plan of exploration.” (The results are not; just the plans to drill.)

* When asked about first production, Duncan said, “We expect to have some oil flowing at the end of the year.”

After the Q&A, Alan Bailey asked Duncan whether Great Bear had done any coring: “Just look at the smile on my face,” Duncan said before turning away.

Bailey, a geologist and senior staff writer for Petroleum News, said Duncan showed a slide of a seismic cross section along the lines of Great Bear’s proposed six proof of concept wells.

“It was certainly a nice looking section, showing the two main target source rocks, the Shublik and HRZ, and showing the position of the wells. But it gave no indication of where Great Bear is with the first well,” Bailey said.

—Kay Cashman

Editor’s note: See the rest of the story in the Aug. 5 issue of Petroleum News, which will be released online around noon on Friday, Aug. 3, at

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