Two exploration wells are being drilled this winter on Alaska’s North Slope: Bear 1 by ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. and Hickory 1 by 88 Energy Ltd.
ConocoPhillips Alaska planned to begin drilling the Bear 1 wildcat on oil and gas lease ADL 393519 on Feb. 25 and finish by March 25.
When asked by Petroleum News for an update on Bear 1 drilling, company spokeswoman Rebecca Boys said in a March 13 email, “I am told by the team that Bear is progressing as planned.”
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The well is being drilled by the Doyon Arctic Fox rig.
According to the 2023 Bear 1 Exploration Program Lease Plan of Operations, which was submitted by the company on Sept. 8, and amended and approved by Alaska’s Division of Oil and Gas on Dec. 16, the Bear 1 project is on non-unitized state lands west of the central North Slope that extend south of Alpine, approximately 22 miles south of Nuiqsut, and 4 miles east of the Colville River.
Per a state lease map, it is part of a block of ConocoPhillips Alaska-held leases that are bordered on the north and east by Oil Search (Alaska), or OSA, operated leases.
In studying available maps and a G&G team’s comments, Bear 1 appears to be on trend with OSA’s 2020 Stirrup discovery.
Bear 1 will be approximately 12 miles south of Stirrup 1, which had one of the highest flow rates of any Nanushuk single-stage stimulation of a vertical well on the North Slope.
Stirrup 1 successfully penetrated the Nanushuk reservoir and encountered an oil column with net pay of 75 feet. The wellbore was cored, perforated through a single-stage simulation and shut-in for six days to enable pressure build-up prior to testing in which Stirrup flowed at a stabilized rate of 3,520 barrels of oil per day.
As previously reported, ConocoPhillips Alaska President Erec Isaacson described the company’s Bear 1 well as a Brookian Topset play.
“A Brookian Topset is exactly what we drilled at Pikka, Horseshoe, Stirrup, Mitquq and … CP drilled at Willow. CP knows what they are doing. I give the Bear well a high chance of success based on what we know,” Bill Armstrong said in response to a query from PN.
Bear 1 is also approximately 11 miles south southwest of the Horseshoe discovery.
The Horseshoe 1 and 1A wells drilled by Armstrong during the 2016-17 winter campaign confirmed the Nanushuk play in the Pikka-Horseshoe area as one of the largest onshore conventional hydrocarbon discoveries in the United States in 30 years.
Per OSA reports, Stirrup 1 is a direct analogue to the Horseshoe 1 and 1A Nanushuk discovery.
The Bear 1 project was scheduled to begin Jan. 20.
A 30-mile-long snow trail was to be built to access the site from the DS-2P pad in the Kuparuk River unit. An ice pad, measuring 500 feet by 500 feet, was to be built at DS-2P to stage equipment and house a mobile camp.
The Bear 1 drilling ice pad was to measure 700 feet by 700 feet for a total area of 11.25 acres.
All Bear 1 operations were to be performed from the ice pad. All facilities were to be temporary, including an airstrip.
In the lease plan of operations approved by the division, the well was to be plugged and abandoned starting March 25 and finished by April 5.
Completion and demobilization was to begin April 10 and finish by April 25.
Summer activities were to start July 5 and finish by Aug. 31.
Hickory 1 spud March 988 Energy’s operator Accumulate Energy Alaska Inc commenced drilling the Hickory 1 exploration well with Nordic Calista’s Rig-2 on March 9.
Hickory 1, which is about 30 miles south of Deadhorse, is in what 88 Energy calls Project Phoenix on the North Slope of Alaska.
According to the lease plan of operations approved by Alaska’s Division of Oil and Gas, Hickory 1 is designed to appraise up to six conventional reservoir targets within what 88 Energy calls the SMD, SFS, BFF and KUP (Kuparuk) reservoirs and is permitted to a total depth of up to 12,500 feet.
The primary targets are the three SMD reservoirs (SMD-C, B and A), with SFS and BFF reservoirs considered secondary targets. The Kuparuk reservoir, the deepest zone, is a tertiary target and will be drilled subject to remaining time in the season, borehole conditions and other technical considerations, 88 Energy said in a March 10 statement.
Hickory 1 was to be initially drilled to 3,500 feet, with surface casing installed and the blow-out preventer system tested. This was anticipated to collectively take up to two weeks.
Drilling to total depth was then expected to take a further two weeks, including logging while drilling, or LWD, at which point wireline logging was scheduled.
LWD and mudlogging will provide initial indications as to the prospectivity of the Hickory 1 targets, the company said.
“The wireline program has been specifically designed to collect essential data, necessary to optimize the future flow testing program. This includes multiple side wall coring runs and other specialized tools to enable detailed reservoir characterization,” 88 Energy said.
Flow testing of the Hickory 1 well was planned for the 2023-24 winter season, subject to well results.
“This provides ample time post-drilling to optimize the flow test program, design, permitting and implementation,” 88 Energy said.
The project area is on state lands; none of which are jointly managed.
Hickory 1 project components are the pad and well, which will be located at meridian, township, range and section Umiat, T005N, R014E, Sec 19.
Per the lease plan of operations, demobilizing the drill rig, camp and support operations will begin on April 5 and finish on April 30.
Clean up, remediate ice infrastructure - pad and road areas - will start on July 1 and finish on Aug. 20.
The pad will be located 400 feet west of the Dalton Highway, approximately 0.3 miles south of Milepost 382.
The well will be situated on a 600-foot by 600-foot ice pad, for a total of 8.26 acres, and connected to the Dalton Highway by a 500-foot-long ice road.