Vol. 27, No.4 Week of January 23, 2022
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Permits largely in hand

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Snow road to Merlin 2 well, rig commissioning, started ahead of February spud

Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

In a Jan. 17 operations update 88 Energy Ltd. said the permit to drill the Merlin 2 well is in the final stages of review by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and that snow road construction and the commissioning of the Doyon Arctic Fox rig have begun ahead of an expected February spud date.

The appraisal well will be drilled in Project Peregrine in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska region of Alaska’s North Slope. (See wireframe image in the print and pdf versions of this issue.)

The Merlin 2 drill site is to the southeast of Merlin 1 and closer to the shelf break where 88 Energy expects enhanced sand thickness and quality,

88 Energy also said Jan. 17 that “good conditions” were noted in the field for construction of the single lane snow road to the Merlin 2 drill site and that road construction was on schedule.

Permitting largely complete

88 Energy said permitting and planning for Merlin 2 was “largely complete, with the well on track to spud in February 2022.”

In a Dec. 8 interview Erik Opstad said they had received state, federal and North Slope Borough approvals to begin pioneering (same as the prepacking that’s done for ice roads) of the 111-mile snow road between KRU 2P and the Merlin 2 well location.

“We already have people working across the Colville River,” Opstad said. Using track vehicles, they are building ramps down the east side of the Colville and up the west bank and beyond.

Opstad owns Anchorage-based ELKO International, the lead contractor on Merlin 1 and Merlin 2. Along with a partial cash payment, ELKO took 88 Energy shares in lieu of payment on Merlin 1.

In 88 Energy’s Dec. 5 and 6 public announcements the company said its lead contractor will accept 407.7 million new 88E ordinary shares as pre-payment of up to US$7.5 million (A$10.7 million) against the costs of the Merlin 2 well this winter.

In its Jan. 17 update, 88 Energy said it’s “aware of media reports of correspondence to the BLM from the Center for Biological Diversity” with respect to the permit to drill.

“The CBD is a not-for-profit environmental activist group in the U.S.,” 88 Energy said. “With the current status of the review of the permit to drill by the BLM, as well as numerous other related approvals and permits from various government agencies, 88 Energy is nearing completion of permitting and the well remains on track to spud in February 2022.”

Targeting Nanushuk

Merlin 2’s total depth is expected to reach 8,000 feet, and “is targeting 652 million barrels of oil1, in the highly prospective N18, N19 and N20 targets that were encountered in the successful Merlin 1 exploration well,” which was drilled in Project Peregrine in March 2021 to a depth of 5,267 feet.

Merlin 1, 88 Energy said, “demonstrated the presence of oil in these multiple stacked sequences within the Brookian Nanushuk formation.”

Project Peregrine encompasses approximately 195,000 contiguous acres in NPR-A. 88 Energy has a 100% working interest in the project

Merlin 1 results

The Merlin 1 exploration well was spud in March 2021 with drilling operations completed in April 2021.

Interpretation of results was completed in August with post-well evaluation “successfully demonstrating the presence of oil in N20, N19 and N18 targets, with 41 feet of net log pay across the three reservoir intervals noted and geochemical analysis determining the oil to have an estimated API gravity between mid-30 to low-40 API,” 88 Energy said.

To view the company’s video and animated presentations of Project Peregrine, as well as Merlin 1 well results and details about Merlin 2, go to l

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