Vol. 24, No.50 Week of December 15, 2019
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

ANS exploration tally

Click here to go to the full PDF version of this issue, with any maps, photos or other artwork that appears in some of the articles.

Four companies to drill up to 12 wells, including 88, ConocoPhillips, Eni. Oil Search

Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

The Alaska North Slope off-road exploration season looks to be another big one, with as many as 12 wells plus some sidetracks being drilled by four companies - 88 Energy, ConocoPhillips Alaska, Eni US Operating and Oil Search Alaska.

Check out the maps in the pdf and print versions of this article for a visual view of well locations.

88 Energy/Premier Oil JV-1 well

88 Energy Ltd. through its subsidiary Accumulate Energy Alaska is drilling the Charlie No. 1 well in its Icewine project. The well, on state oil and gas lease ADL 393380, is approximately 29 miles west of the Franklin Bluffs pad.

Accumulate’ s lease plan of operations was approved Nov. 22 by Alaska’s Division of Oil and Gas.

Thirty-four miles of ice roads will be built along with two 500 feet by 500 feet ice pads; one drill pad and one staging pad, which will be one mile west of the Dalton Highway at milepost 386.

Using the Nordic Rig 3, Charlie No. 1 will be drilled to an approximate depth of 11,000 feet and may include laterals, sidetracks or additional penetrations.

The well will intersect seven stacked prospects, four of which are interpreted as oil bearing in nearby Malguk No.1 (drilled in 1991 by BP) and are therefore considered appraisal targets, 88 Energy said.

In paperwork submitted to the division, the primary drilling objective includes testing and evaluating the Seabee formation for oil.

The program is being financed via a joint venture between 88 and Premier Oil Plc, with Premier picking up the cost of drilling (up to US$23 million).

ConocoPhillips — up to 7 wells

Using the Doyon 141 and 142 drill rigs, ConocoPhillips is planning to drill and test up to seven exploration wells this winter on its Willow (and West Willow) and Harpoon acreage in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, although it is permitting 10 sites to maintain operational flexibility.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said in its environmental assessment that vertical seismic profiles will be done at some of the new wells.

The company’s existing suspended wells - Scout 1, Tinmiaq 2 and 15 - are part of the program to conduct inspection and potential abandonment.

The 10 wells, all on ConocoPhillips-operated leases, are as follows, with the last figure being the lease number:

* Tinmiaq 14 exploration/appraisal well AA090710

* Tinmiaq 18 exploration/appraisal well AA090707

* Tinmiaq 19 exploration/appraisal well AA094166

* Tinmiaq 20 exploration/appraisal well AA095290

* Tinmiaq 22 exploration/appraisal well AA081824

* Tinmiaq 24 exploration/appraisal well AA081823

* Harpoon 1 exploration well AA094454

* Harpoon 2 exploration well AA094443

* Harpoon 3 exploration well AA094436

* Harpoon 4 exploration well AA094445

The Tinmiaq 14, 18, 20, 22, 24 ice pads will be 600 by 600 feet, as will all the Harpoon pads.

The Tinmiaq 2 ice pad will be 500 by 500 feet.

The Tinmiaq and Harpoon base camp ice pads will be 1000 by 1000 feet, as will be the Remote Ice Camp pad, or RIC, plus there will be several other ice pads.

The ice airstrip will be 4,000 by 75 feet.

Scott Jepsen, a ConocoPhillips Alaska senior vice president, recently said there will be 74 miles of ice roads for exploration (Harpoon), with 165 miles total in this winter’s program. He also said four of the wells would be in the Willow area (Tinmiaq wells).

Jepsen described the Harpoon program southwest of Willow as “rank exploration,”

State and federal geologists have said the geological targets in the Willow area are Nanushuk and Torok.

Eni US — 1 or 2 wells?

In Eni US Operating’s 11th annual plan of development for the Nikaitchuq unit filed with the division and ran from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019, the company said it would continue drilling the Nikaitchuq North exploration well, NN-01, which was spud in late 2017 from the Spy Island drill site, or SID.

Eni suspended drilling on NN-01 in April at a measured depth of 30,010 feet, shy of its 35,000-foot target, because of “operational limitations.”

Eni anticipated continuing the directional drilling of the well in early February 2020.

In its 12th POD (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2020) Eni confirmed it plans to resume NN-01well operations in the 2019/2020 winter drilling season and expects to reach target depth by Q3 2020.

The company also plans to do surface facility upgrades in anticipation of spudding another Nikaitchuq North exploratory well, NN-02, in first quarter 2020.

Facility upgrades are planned to support the second well and the two remaining SID injection wells, including a new six-slot well containment shelter and associated well conductors, plus the requisite well tie-ins.

The NN-01 and NN-02 wells are part of an initiative to find new oil resources in the Nikaitchuq North prospect in the federal outer continental shelf north of the existing Nikaitchuq producing unit in state waters, using ultra-extended reach drilling to target Harrison Bay Block 6423.

Eni has not identified the drilling target at Nikaitchuq North. The Schrader Bluff formation that hosts the reservoir for the Nikaitchuq unit is known to extend a long way north.

However, there are other possibilities that, based on circumstantial evidence such as planned drilling depth, may be likely. One contender is the Jurassic Alpine sands, equivalent to reservoir sands in the Alpine oil field and deeper than the Schrader Bluff.

Also, Kerr-McGee, the previous Nikaitchuq operator, had talked about the possibility of testing the Jurassic Nuiqsut sandstone to the north of the unit.

Eni did not specify which rig(s) it would be using to drill NN-01 and NN-01, but it currently has Doyon Rig 15 drilling at SID, which was used for NN-01. It also has Nordic Calista 4 and Nabors 245-E under contract.

Oil Search — 2 wells

Oil Search’s lease plans of operations for the two wells it wants to drill and test this winter, Mitquq 1 (plus sidetrack) and Stirrup 1, were approved in early December by the Division of Oil and Gas.

The wells will test Nanushuk analogues east of the Pikka unit with Mitquq 1, and west of the Horseshoe Block with Stirrup 1.

Both the wells will be drilled by Doyon’s Arctic Fox rig from ice pads on state land east of the Colville River, with Mitquq 1 about six miles from the proposed Pikka Nanushuk Development A pad, or ND-A, and approximately 5.5 miles southwest of DS-3S pad in Kuparuk River unit. Stirrup is 15 miles southwest of the village of Nuiqsut.

Oil Search recently described Mitquq’s oil potential as a “high value tieback” to “future Pikka infrastructure.”

Success at the Stirrup prospect, which is close to the Horseshoe Block southwest of the Pikka unit “could de-risk additional fairways to underpin a possible standalone” Horseshoe development, the company had said, noting Stirrup is a direct analogue to the Horseshoe 1 Nanushuk discovery.

The main Mitquq 1 ice road will be 6.4 miles long with 10 spur ice roads for water source access. A construction ice pad will be at the start of the ice road, near DS-3S, to support ice road construction, early mobilization and maintenance.

The Mitquq well and all operations will be on a 23-acre ice pad.

The single surface hole well will be drilled to a true vertical depth of 7,000 feet or less.

Oil Search plans to conduct a walkaway vertical seismic profile. The well will be plugged and abandoned upon completion, since its purpose is to better understand subsurface reservoir characteristics.

The Mitquq 1 drill site and surface hole will be on state oil and gas lease ADL 393876, and the wellbore will be on ADL 393875 - Oil Search is the lessee on both.

The main ice road for Stirrup 1 will be 26.1 miles long with 10 spur ice roads for water source access.

Four ice pads will be built for staging, construction, telecommunications and drilling. An ice airstrip may also be constructed.

All operations for Stirrup 1 will be conducted on a 23-acre ice pad.

The single surface hole well will be drilled to a true vertical depth of 6,000 feet or less.

In addition to the well, Oil Search will conduct a walkaway vertical seismic profile. The Stirrup 1 well will be plugged and abandoned upon completion, since its purpose is to better understand subsurface reservoir characteristics.

The Stirrup 1 drill site and surface hole location will be on state oil and gas lease ADL 392044, leased to Oil Search; presumably the wellbore will be on the same lease, although the approval document did not say so.

EDITOR’S NOTE: See map showing the location of the Mitquq and Stirrup wells in page 11 of the Sept. 29 issue of Petroleum News,

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