Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
May 2018

Vol. 23, No.18 Week of May 06, 2018

Drilling time extended

BOEM has approved a longer drilling schedule for Eni’s Nikaitchuq North well

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has approved a revised version of Eni US Operating Co.’s plan for the drilling of an extended reach exploration well into the Nikaitchuq North prospect under the federal waters of the Beaufort Sea. The company has been drilling the well from an existing drill pad on Spy Island, a pad that supports the Nikaitchuq field under the state nearshore sector of the Beaufort.

Eni had originally planned to spud the well, the Nikaitchuq North No. 1, around Dec. 10, complete the well in mid-February and then, if appropriate, conduct flow testing between mid-February and mid-March. The company, in its revised plan, said that spudding of the well commenced on Dec. 23, with drilling starting on Feb. 1.

‘Unforeseen impacts’

“Due to unforeseen impacts to the drilling schedule” Eni now anticipates finishing the drilling of much of the well by June 1, without at that point penetrating any hydrocarbon bearing zones, the revised plan says. After temporarily plugging and abandoning the well, the drilling of an 8.5-inch diameter section, potentially into hydrocarbons, will start on July 15. Flow testing would take place between the end of July and late August, with the well subsequently being plugged and abandoned.

The original plan had envisaged the potential drilling of a sidetrack well, following completion of the main well in late March. Eni no longer plans to drill the sidetrack.

Eni is using Doyon Rig 15 for the drilling project.

The temporary hiatus in the summer drilling and the decision not to drill a sidetrack reflect consistency with drilling restrictions designed for environmental protection. Eni will only drill during frozen ice conditions and during the open water season between July 15 and Sept. 15, and the company will only drill lateral wells during frozen ice conditions, the revised plan says.

Second well still planned

Depending on the results of this year’s drilling, Eni still plans to drill a second Nikaitchuq North well next winter. Regardless of issues encountered during the drilling of the first well, the plan for the second well remains identical to what was proposed in Eni’s original exploration plan: The well would be drilled between early December and mid-February. Any flow testing would take place between mid-February and mid-March. And there is the possibility of drilling a sidetrack between late March and late April. Any further flow testing would be completed by late May.

Eni’s concept behind the drilling is to test for new resources that can be added to the reserves for the Nikaitchuq field, and thus to enable increased production at the field. Eni has said that the existing production facilities can handle production rates significantly higher than at present.

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