Repsol will abandon damaged Slope well

Repsol USA said it will plug and abandon its Qugruk No. 2 well after drilling crews were unable to repair damage in the well caused by a Feb. 15 gas blowout, a company spokesman said March 14.

“We are going to plug and abandon that wellbore,” Repsol spokesman Jan Sieving said in an emailed statement. “Currently we don’t have plans to re-drill at the location. All efforts are currently focused on safely securing and now plugging the well.”

The company is finalizing the well control plan for review and approval by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said in a separate statement.

Sieving said Repsol is working with the state to re-permit two other exploration locations in hopes that those can be tested this winter.

The company and its drilling contractor, Nabors Alaska Drilling, had cleaned frozen drill mud from the rig and restored operations but had encountered blockages in the well after attempting to circulate drilling fluid to regain control.

A coil-tubing unit was used to clear the obstructions. The drilling and well control crew attempted to then move the pipe to reestablish mud circulation, but the attempt failed.

“The attempt failed and they were unable to circulate fluid through the well,” the DEC said in its statement.

Repsol has not yet indicated whether it will attempt to drill a new well at the prospect or move the rig to another location. Meanwhile, the company reported earlier that it has resumed drilling at a second prospect, the Kachemach-1 exploration well, after that operation was suspended to assist with the Qugruk No. 2 incident.

Repsol encountered a shallow gas pocket while drilling at Qugruk No. 2, at 2,563 feet, just below the permafrost layer. A gas “kick” resulted in drilling fluids being ejected from the well and a release of gas that was dispersed through a diverter. The rig was evacuated and shut down.

At the time the drilling contractor had not yet installed surface casing in the well, so the blow-out preventer had not yet been installed, according to Cathy Foerster, a commissioner on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The Qugruk No. 2 well is in the Colville River delta north of the Alpine field, which is producing. The Kachemach-1 exploration well is southwest of the producing Kuparuk River field on the slope.

Updated: 
11/07/2016 - 8:09pm