September 04, 2012 --- Vol. 18, No. 67September 2012

Weather delays Shell Chukchi Sea drilling

Stormy weather in the Chukchi Sea has delayed the start of Shell’s drilling in its Burger prospect, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith told Petroleum News by email today. Having on Friday received from the Environmental Protection Agency an air permit compliance order, allowing operation of the drillship Noble Discoverer in the Chukchi this year, Shell had hoped to start drilling at Burger early this week. On Thursday the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement gave Shell permission to drill the top portion of its planned well, prior to deployment of the company’s oil containment barge.

The Noble Discoverer is currently in a holding position 10 miles south of the drill site, and should be able to enter the site on Thursday or Friday for the 16-hour operation of securing to eight pre-staged anchors, Smith said.

—Alan Bailey

BRPC drops Putu, most of Beechey Point

Brooks Range Petroleum Corp., operator for the AVCG LLC and Ramshorn Exploration joint venture, said today that the JV partners have voluntarily released exploration acreage in the Putu and Beechey Point units on Alaska’s North Slope.

All of the 21,947 acres in the Putu unit have been released, BRPC said, along with 42,119 acres on the western side of the Beechey Point unit.

BRPC said it still holds just under 100,000 acres on the North Slope in the Southern Miluveach, Tofkat, Kachemach, Beechey Point and pending Telemark units, plus non-unitized acreage still in its primary term.

In letters dated Aug. 31 and posted on the Division of Oil and Gas website today, DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan approved the Putu unit voluntary termination and division Director Bill Barron approved the voluntary contraction of the Beechey Point unit.

Sullivan said BRPC is relieved of an obligation under the Putu promissory note executed in January to pay DNR an additional $9 million. DNR will collect the $1 million certificate of deposit posted as security under the Putu promissory note and the performance guaranty approved in July, he said.

When DNR approved the Putu unit last October, BRPC was required to post a $10 million performance bond to guarantee performance of a four-well drilling commitment.

The voluntary contraction of the Beechey Point unit, approved by Barron, contracted that unit to seven leases with 10,757 acres.

“The release of this acreage indicates our focus on placing a priority on our near-term Mustang Development Area in the Southern Miluveach Unit with facility construction to begin in 2013, development drilling in 2014 and first oil anticipated in the first half of 2014,” BRPC Chief Operating Officer Bart Armfield said in the company’s statement.

—Kristen Nelson

See stories in Sept. 9 issue, available online on Friday, Sept. 7 at 11 a.m. at

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