Buccaneer finds 488-foot potential oil and gas formation
Buccaneer’s jack-up rig, shown docked in Homer, is now being used for exploration in Cook Inlet. The independent oil and gas company has said work so far shows signifcant potential.
Buccaneer Energy said July 16 it has found a 488-foot section of potential oil and gas-producing reservoir rocks with 18 possible gas zones and 8 oil zones in its Cosmo No. 1 exploration well near Anchor Point.
The newly-defined zones are in the Tyonek formation which overlies the deeper Hemlock and Starichkof formations where oil was found earlier by ARCO Alaska.
Buccaneer is conducting tests on the oil zones and expects to have results soon on characteristics of the oil. A production test might be done if the initial test results are favorable.
State officials are encouraged, but still cautious, on the results. Dan Seamount, one of three commissioners on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and a petroleum geologist, said he is familiar with the prospect Buccaneer is drilling from his earlier work with industry.
“It’s known that there is oil deeper, in the Hemlock (formation) but I have always been intrigued as to whether the shallower sands (the Tyonek) contain oil and gas. If it does, and they can be produced, that is tremendous,” Seamount said.
However, caution is still in order.
“We have 18 shows on a big geologic structure but we really won’t know anything until we can perforate the well and (production) test it.
“I’ve been burned a lot of times when things initially look good but when we went to test it we got water,” Seamount said.
Buccaneer is drilling the Cosmo No. 1 well with the Endeavour jack-up rig at a location about 3 miles offshore from Anchor Point, near Homer on the Kenai Peninsula.
Having the jack-up rig is an advantage because the company is able to drill vertical wells straight down to test the possible oil and gas formations. Previous attempts to explore the prospect were with “extended-reach” lateral wells drilled with a drill rig on shore. These could only reach, and test, the deeper Hemlock and Starichkof formations, where oil was found.
Efforts to test and evaluate those finds were complicated by thick coal seams that had to be penetrated by the lateral wells, and which caused problems. Those caused ARCO and later ConocoPhillips and Pioneer Natural Resources to drop the prospect, selling it to Buccaneer and its partner, BlueCrest Energy, of Fort Worth, Texas.
The lateral wells were unable to reach or test the shallower Tyonek formation, which Buccaneer has now penetrated with vertical wells from the jack-up rig.
While any oil found in the well is important, the possible natural gas discoveries would be an important development for the Cook Inlet because the existing gas fields that serve regional utilities are being depleted.
The possible discovery is near shore and there is an existing natural gas pipeline built nearby by Enstar Natural Gas Co.