Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
December 2019

Vol. 24, No.51 Week of December 22, 2019

ConocoPhillips files plan of ops for Fiord West Rhea-1 well, ice pad

Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

On Dec. 16, the state Division of Oil and Gas posted a public notice for ConocoPhillips Alaska’s proposed Fiord West Kuparuk East Pilot program west of the Alpine field in the North Slope Colville River unit. The project involves one well, Rhea-1, a 600 by 600 foot ice pad and 0.4 mile access ice road that will connect to the Alpine Resupply Ice Road System.

Per its Nov. 21 application, ConocoPhillips plans to conduct a vertical seismic profile at RHEA-1 using a tundra approved vibroseis vehicle, or vibe. The vibe truck will travel from the well location 1 mile to the west utilizing the 0.4 mile ice road where possible.

The program is expected to begin around Jan. 15, using a standard drilling rig (unnamed in application).

The slant pilot hole will target the Fiord West Kuparuk reservoir near where extended reach laterals are planned in second quarter from the CD2 gravel pad using Doyon 26, the new extended reach drilling rig scheduled to be shipped from Deadhorse in March and to begin drilling in early April.

The purpose of Rhea-1, which will be approximately 12 miles north of the village of Nuiqsut and three miles north of CD2, is to evaluate static subsurface properties and production to assist ERD well planning and execution efforts.

Fiord West Kuparuk PA

Rhea-1 - and the six development wells that will be drilled by Doyon 26 - will be in the new 12,015-acre Fiord West Kuparuk participating area, which is jointly managed by the state of Alaska, Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and includes state and joint state-ASRC and BLM leases.

A participating area defines the portion of a unit from which production is expected occur. The Colville River unit has six other participating areas, four oil pools and eight reservoir areas, ConocoPhillips said in its Dec. 21, 2018 application to form the Fiord West Kuparuk PA, noting there are satellite oil pools at three drill sites - Qannik at CD2, Fiord at CD3 and Nanuq at CD4, with separate PA agreements.

“All CRU oil pools are developed primarily with horizontal well technology,” ConocoPhillips said in the application.

The Qannik and Nanuq PAs are primarily waterflooded, while Alpine, Fiord Nechelik, Fiord Kuparuk and Nanuq Kuparuk employ MWAG, gas-alternating waterflood using either miscible gas or sub-miscible enriched gas.

Twenty thousand bpd at peak

The proposed Fiord West Kuparuk East Pilot program does not require any permanent facilities or an airstrip. The airstrip at CD1 might be used in support of the project.

At its peak, Fiord West is expected to produce 20,000 barrels of oil a day.

In recent presentations Scott Jepsen, senior vice president at ConocoPhillips Alaska, said Fiord West has “been on our books” for about 20 years, but because of where it is located - in an environmentally sensitive along the coast - the company couldn’t access it. That has all changed with the new high-tech ERD rig, which will be able to tap 154 square miles of reservoir versus the 55 square miles accessed by standard rotary rigs.

Exploration and geology

There are seven exploration wells in the vicinity of the Fiord West Kuparuk PA - Nechelik 1, Temptation 1, Temptation 1A, Nigliq 1, Nigliq 1A, Iapetus 2 and Char 1.

Six of these wells encountered the Lower Cretaceous Kuparuk River formation, per the division following ConocoPhillips March 15 status update for the Colville River unit and the June approval of the Fiord West Kuparuk PA.

“The Kuparuk River sandstone is a shallow marine transgressive sequence deposited on the Lower Cretaceous Unconformity,” and varies across the two Fiord PAs from 1 foot thick to 21 feet.

The division said the Kuparuk A sandstone is not present in the area.

Drilling began in the area in 1996 when ConocoPhillips Alaska predecessor ARCO Alaska drilled the Temptation 1 and a deviated sidetrack, the Temptation 1A, encountering 9 feet of gross Kuparuk sandstone in the original well and 8 feet of gross sandstone in the sidetrack.

In its application for the Fiord West Kuparuk PA, ConocoPhillips said the Temptation wells “were the first wells west of the fault trapped CD3 Fiord Kuparuk accumulation to find significant Kuparuk C thickness and reservoir quality.”

Fiord 5 was drilled to both Kuparuk and Nechelik targets in 1999, with 15 feet of gross sand in the Kuparuk. Both zones were tested, with the Nechelik interval producing 1,400 barrels per day of 29-degree American Petroleum Institute gravity oil. The combined Nechelik and Kuparuk test produced 2,500 bpd.

The division said development wells in the CD3 Fiord Kuparuk field have shown oil gravity in the Kuparuk area to be above 29 degrees API.

Phillips Alaska drilled Nigliq 1 and Nigliq 1A about 5 miles west of the Fiord 5 well in 2001, the division said, with 2 feet of gross Kuparuk C sandstone found in Nigliq 1 and 5 feet in Nigliq 1A.

ConocoPhillips drilled Iapetus 2 in 2005, encountering 10 feet of gross Kuparuk C sandstone as well as Nechelik sandstone. The division said the well was not tested.

Per the agency the company drilled Char 1 in 2008, encountering 12 feet of gross Kuparuk C sandstone. The well was perforated and flow tested, “producing 23,190 barrels of oil over a seven-day period,” an oil rate which averaged some 3,620 bpd with an API oil gravity of 39 degrees.

The Kuparuk C has also been penetrated by several wells as part of the Fiord Nechelik development at CD3, the division said, with gross thickness between 3 and 8 feet along the eastern edge of the Fiord West Kuparuk PA.

The PA “is defined as the Kuparuk C sands correlative to the Kuparuk C sandstone found in the Char 1 well,” the division said, with the top of the Kuparuk C sandstone in that well at 7,252 feet measured depth and the base the Lower Cretaceous Unconformity at 7,264 feet MD.

All comments can be sent to the Division of Oil and Gas by email to [email protected], or by regular mail to the agency’s office at 550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1100, Anchorage, AK 99507.

All comments must be in writing.

A copy of the final decision will be sent to any person who provides written comments. Comments must be received by the comment deadline of 4:30 p.m., Alaska Standard Time, Jan. 16.


Editor’s note: See ConocoPhillips Fiord West Kuparuk Overview map on page 33 of this document:


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