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Vol. 24, No.49 Week of December 08, 2019
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Oil patch insider: WSJ: Bill Armstrong and the story of the big Nanushuk oil discovery

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Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

This Nov. 29 headline and deck in The Wall Street Journal topped a story of the man whose launched the renaissance of the North Slope’s oil industry with the huge Nanushuk discovery: “The Last Prospector: A Texas Wildcatter Is Tempted by a Final Quest. Bill Armstrong bet he could find oil in a corner of Alaska already picked over by the big companies”

Founder and CEO of Armstrong Oil & Gas, Bill Armstrong is dubbed by WSJ writers Bradley Olson and Sarah McFarlane as one of America’s last oil wildcatters. They wrote he had a “hunch there was one more fortune just waiting to be tapped” in Alaska, west of the central North Slope. (A hunch he has again today about the undeveloped acreage block he shares 50-50 with Oil Search on the eastern North Slope.)

The WSJ story is an interesting read, as evidenced by these excerpts:

* Armstrong, who has a dozen employees, told WSJ he “looked for gamblers, super nerds and weirdos - ‘people that don’t have any hobbies’ and spend their evenings looking at seismic data, well logs. He calls the data geoporn.”

* “Mr. Armstrong, the son of a wildcatter, grew up in Abilene, Texas, where dinner-table chatter included dry holes, bankruptcies and instant fortunes. At the local country club, he caddied for T. Boone Pickens.”

* “Mr. Armstrong found a partner to help finance the expedition. Spain’s Repsol SA, a company of kindred spirits who take exploration risks in the fracking era. Together, they planned a number of test wells in 2012.”

* “In 2013, Repsol, Armstrong and another partner drilled the Qugruk 3 well, primarily targeting a deep layer from the Jurassic Age. They were hoping to find the equivalent of 100 million barrels of oil. … As the wellbore dug deeper, data began to stream into the Denver office with signs of oil. … Feeling superstitious, Mr. Armstrong didn’t want to look over the data, worried he would jinx the find. Instead, he dribbled a basketball around his office:”

The discovery, the Nanushuk reservoir, “was gigantic,” WSJ reported.

* “In 2017, the companies announced their find, estimated to total 3 billion barrels, making it one of the biggest oil strikes in decades.”

Read the full story at https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-last-prospector-a-texas-wildcatter-is-tempted-by-a-final-quest-11575049890.

- KAY CASHMAN



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