Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
July 2021

Vol. 26, No.30 Week of July 25, 2021

Prudhoe drilling resumes

Hilcorp plans up to six new wells at Orion, in western satellite area

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

Drilling is resuming at Prudhoe - at least in the western satellite area.

When Hilcorp North Slope, the Prudhoe Bay unit operator, filed its plan of development for the Prudhoe western satellites in January, it told the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas that the working interest owners had not approved a western satellite drilling program for 2021, although wellwork and workovers were planned.

In March, it delivered a similar message for the initial participating areas at Prudhoe.

Hilcorp said in its January filing that resumption of western satellite drilling in 2022 would “depend on market conditions and approval from working interest owners.”

On July 15, Hilcorp filed a proposed amendment to the Prudhoe western satellite POD, telling the division it “anticipates completing up to six new drill wells within the Orion PA, including up to three producers and one injector from the L pad and up to one producer and one injector from the Z pad.”

“We are pleased to have support from our working interest partners to drill several Prudhoe Bay wells in the coming months,” Luke Saugier, Hilcorp senior vice president, Alaska, said in a July 19 email statement. “The last year has been challenging but I’m proud of what our team accomplished, including increasing production at Prudhoe Bay. We look forward to working with our Prudhoe Bay partners, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Chevron, to continue to safely and responsibly develop Alaska’s natural resources.”

The 2021 POD is effective May 1, 2021, through April 30, 2022.

Hilcorp took over BP’s interest at Prudhoe in 2020 as part of its acquisition of BP’s Alaska assets. The field’s other working interest owners are ConocoPhillips Alaska, ExxonMobil Alaska Production and Chevron U.S.A.

Western satellites

There are five western satellites at Prudhoe: Aurora, Borealis, Midnight Sun, Orion and Polaris.

In its March approval of the original POD for the western satellites the division said Aurora, Borealis and Midnight Sun produce primarily from the Kuparuk River formation, while Orion and Polaris produce higher viscosity oil from the Schrader Bluff formation.

Data from Hilcorp’s original POD application show average 2020 calendar year daily oil production from the satellites was 5,315 barrels per day at Aurora; 5,558 bpd at Borealis; 973 bpd at Midnight Sun; 3,928 bpd at Orion; and 6,193 bpd at Polaris. Total western satellite production averaged 21,967 bpd last year.

By comparison, in its POD for the initial participating areas, Hilcorp said oil production averaged 60,968 bpd in 2020, with 16,538 bpd of natural gas liquids. There is no NGL production from the western satellites.

Western satellite development began in the late 1990s with Midnight Sun production beginning in 1998 and Polaris production in 1999, followed by Aurora in 2000, Borealis in 2001 and Orion in 2002. Regular production from the IPA, discovered in the late 1960s, began in 1977, following completion of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Wellwork, workovers

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