Repsol plans $240M in drilling, seismic work for winter

Repsol is continuing its North Slope exploration with $240 million of drilling and seismic planned this winter company Alaska manager Bill Hardham said.

The Spanish major will drill three wells and test two.

It will also conduct a 360 square-mile 3-D seismic program, what the company calls the Horseshoe project. The Horseshoe area is south and west of the Colville River Unit and mostly south of the Greater Moose’s Tooth Unit. The Colville River bisects the area and a large portion of it is in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Hardham said Repsol will build 30 miles of ice road into its “focus area” that is the Colville River delta.

“To date, we’ve invested approximately $650 million on our North Slope projects and we have another significant campaign planned,” Hardham said at the Resource Development Council for Alaska conference.

All three of the wells will be in the Colville delta area on the eastern edge of the Colville River Unit, roughly the same area that Repsol has drilled most of its wells in previous years. Of the three wells it drilled during its 2014 winter program, two were on the delta and one was south of the Kuparuk River Unit to the east.

Permits have been submitted for the drill areas and an ice airstrip at the head of the delta will allow the company to transport crews directly to the area, he said. Work on the seasonal infrastructure will commence as soon as conditions allow.

This winter’s activity will require a largely contracted workforce of more than 500 people on the North Slope, Hardham said.

Repsol operates in more than 30 countries and its U.S. headquarters are in Houston.

When the 2015 winter season is over the company will have drilled nine wells on the Slope over the last three seasons, based on its current plans. Along with the three wells drilled last winter, Repsol tested two wells and conducted two 3-D seismic programs.

The company had success with its 2013 drilling program.

“We did end up discovering oil in all three wells” Repsol drilled in 2013 on the Colville delta, Hardham said.

Repsol is the second-largest leaseholder on the North Slope, with more than 650,000 acres under lease. Its holdings are around the Colville and Greater Moose’s Tooth units on the western part of the developed Slope and south of the Kuparuk River Unit.

Repsol became a player on the Slope in March 2011 when it partnered on about 500,000 acres of leases with Denver-based Armstrong Oil and Gas. It completed its first drilling campaign about a year later in April 2012.

The company also has offshore leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Hardham said back in 2011 the state’s projected willingness to overhaul the oil tax structure was “instrumental in Repsol’s decision to enter Alaska.”

Repsol’s $240 million is a small chunk of the large investment pool currently on the North Slope. Caelus Energy, which agreed to purchase Pioneer Resource’s Alaska operations in late 2013, announced a $550 million capital budget for 2015 on its Oooguruk and Nuna developments at the RDC conference.

Meanwhile, ConocoPhillips’ 2014 capital plan for the state will total about $1.6 billion, according to the company’s Alaska president Trond-Erik Johansen.

ConocoPhillips has also announced plans this year to add two drilling rigs to the Kuparuk River field. Each rig requires about 100 direct and indirect positions to operate it.

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].

11/18/2016 - 10:39am