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

Vol. 24, No.23 Week of June 09, 2019

Brooks Range seeks AOGCC injection order

Company tells commission work based on Kuparuk River order; provides for waterflood; initial natural gas to be used as fuel gas

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

Brooks Range Petroleum Corp. is seeking an area injection order for the Southern Miluveach unit, Kuparuk River oil pool, from the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Lawrence Vendl, Brooks Range exploration and subsurface development manager, told Commissioners Jessie Chmielowski and Dan Seamount at a June 4 hearing that the company seeks authorization to inject fluids for pressure maintenance and enhanced recovery of hydrocarbons in the Southern Miluveach unit.

Vendl said Brooks Range is working under Kuparuk River pool rules under the assumption that Southern Miluveach is part of the Kuparuk oil pool. The area now included in Southern Miluveach, which lies southwest of the Kuparuk River unit, was part of the Kuparuk River unit in the 1980s when that unit was formed.

The Kuparuk oil pool within the SMU is a continuation of Kuparuk C and A sands in the Kuparuk River unit, Vendl said, and lies between minus 5,800 feet true vertical depth subsea and minus 6,400 feet TVDSS.

He said development of the Kuparuk oil pool within the SMU will be done in discrete phases to mitigate risk and improve recovery, with targets accessed from the SMU Mustang drill site.

Temporary facility

Brooks Range had originally planned to start up the field with permanent production facilities capable of handling 15,000 barrels per day of oil, but due to unsteady oil prices the company decided to begin with a small temporary facility, gradually scaling up production.

Reservoir targets will be accessed from the Mustang drill sit, with current plans to develop the field with up to 11 horizontal producers and up to 10 horizontal injectors, with the possibility of hydraulically fracturing some of the producers.

Production will be from both C and A Kuparuk sands; waterflood is planned, followed eventually by lean or miscible gas flood.

Water for waterflood will be produced water from the field and seawater from the ConocoPhillips seawater pipeline, with gas to be sourced from SMU processing facilities.

Brooks Range has drilled two wells in the SMU, North Tarn 1A and SMU M-02, and both will be used long term for injection.

Vendl said audited Kuparuk reserves for the SMU are 21.2 million barrels of 1P (proven oil in place). Presentation materials at the hearing also showed 2P at 32.8 million barrels 2P (probable) and 3P at 38.3 million barrels (possible), and showed primary recovery as estimated at 10-15% of original oil in place with waterflood adding 10-25%, for a total recovery after waterflood of up to 35%.

Vendl cited an average estimated recovery rate of 30% with waterflood, expected to rise to 40% with tertiary recovery.

Facilities work underway

Considerable onsite facilities work at SMU has been done - roads and pads for the project were completed in 2013 and most of the above-ground pipeline supports were installed in early 2015.

Bart Armfield, president and CEO of BRPC, told the board of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority this April that pipelines were being installed - a line for exporting oil and a line to bring in seawater for injection in the future.

The oil line will connect to the Alpine line.

Armfield also said remote electrical and instrumentation had been installed on the field’s gravel pad and electrical work, trenching and other work was in progress.

Production is planned to start at about 1,000 barrels per day, Armfield told the board, using a single well that the company flow tested in 2017. Then a 6,000-foot lateral will be drilled from a partially completed well at the field, bringing an additional 2,000 to 3,000 bpd online. Another two wells should bring total production to about 6,000 bpd, with eventual total field development in some 17 injection and production wells.

Aquifer exemption

Brooks Range is also seeking an aquifer exemption - a ruling that there are no freshwater aquifers within the development area of the SMU. Vendl said SMU was part of a 1984 aquifer exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency for the Kuparuk River unit, but said EPA no longer recognizes the exemption for SMU since the area was contracted out of the Kuparuk River unit.

He said Brooks Range is getting a salinity evaluation of formation water in the area but told the commissioners no freshwater aquifers are found within the SMU development area.

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