88 Energy adds to winter exploration program
A small Australian company will soon be adding to what is turning out to be a robust exploration season on the North Slope.
88 Energy received regulatory approval from the Division of Oil and Gas Feb. 5 to drill two exploration wells in a remote portion of the southern North Slope near the upper Kuparuk River.
Working under its operating subsidiary Accumulate Energy Alaska Inc., the company plans to drill and test the Bravo-1 and Charlie-1 oil exploration wells by April 30, according to its exploration plan submitted to Oil and Gas.
The wells will each be drilled to a depth of 11,000 feet and target the Seebee geologic formation, which has been found in nearby prior exploration wells drilled by other companies and that ConocoPhillips is producing from in the Kuparuk River Unit to the north, the company says.
Accumulate’s work plan includes building 32 miles of ice road west from its Franklin Bluffs drilling pad adjacent to the Dalton Highway and about 35 miles south of Deadhorse.
The company has drilled two wells on the Franklin Bluffs pad since late 2015, Icewine-1 and -2, targeting the unconventional HRZ shale play, which 88 Energy describes as “a prolific source rock” in the Brookian geologic formation.
The Brookian sequence of formations contains the shallow Nanushuk formation and the Torok sands, which have been the source of multiple large oil discoveries by Armstrong Energy, ConocoPhillips and Caelus Energy in recent years. The belief is the HRZ shale holds similar potential to the Nanushuk and Torok plays if it can be effectively fracked.
Icewine-2 was drilled last spring and production tests are ongoing.
The Bravo and Charlie wells are in addition to five exploration and appraisal wells ConocoPhillips is drilling this winter on its acreage in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and around the Colville River Unit, as well as an exploration well by Glacier Oil and Gas in the eastern Slope Badami field and two more long wells drilled by Italian major Eni into federal territory from its manmade Spy Island drill site in the state-controlled Nikaitchuq Unit.
Accumulate plans to use Doyon Drilling’s Arctic Fox rig, which it also contracted to drill the Icewine wells.
88 Energy also began a nearly 180 square-mile 3D seismic program Feb. 7 on its large swath of acreage west of the Dalton and in the general area of the Bravo and Charlie wells, according to a Feb. 14 press release.
The seismic shoot, expected to about 45 days, is intended to further evaluate the conventional oil potential and could lead to further exploration drilling in early 2019, 88 Energy Director David Wall states.
88 Energy, through its partnership with Houston-based independent Burgundy Xploration, holds rights to roughly 475,000 acres of contiguous state leases south of the developed area of the North Slope.
88 Energy also holds a 100 percent interest in about 15,500 acres south of the Point Thomson gas field and adjacent to the western edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. BP drilled the Yukon Gold-1 well in the area in 1994 and hit oil at several depths of the 12,800-foot well but did not develop it, according to 88 Energy.
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].