A busy drilling season is shaping up for the North Slope this winter as oil companies do further tests around existing discoveries and probe new prospects.
Two firms developing the new $5 billion “Pikka” project on the North Slope are increasingly bullish about it. Oil Search, the Papua, New Guinea company that is in charge of Pikka, now says it hopes to begin production in 2022 at 50,000 barrels per day.
Repsol, a major oil and gas company based in Madrid, is a partner with Oil Search in Pikka and did the initial exploration that led to the discovery. Pikka is west of the large producing Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River oil fields on the slope.
Oil Search is also working on ways boost peak production from Pikka from 130,000 barrels per day to 135,000 barrels per day, according to reports.
New information was made available during an investor briefings and tours in Anchorage and the North Slope Sept. 23, and was reported in Petroleum News, a publication that specializes in Alaska oil and gas developments.
If developed, Pikka be a major North Slope construction project in 2022 and 2023 with the building of three drill sites, a processing plant and operations center as well as roads, pipelines and utilities to support the project.
Pikka is one of several new oil discoveries made in recent years. ConocoPhillips is now constructing its GMT-2 project in the National Petroleum Reserve, or NPR-A, with a plan to start production in 2021 with a peak output of 40,000 barrels per day.
Willow, a nearby, larger ConocoPhillips discovery, is in its advanced planning and permitting phases. Willow could produce 300,000 barrels per day at peak with production beginning in 2025 or 2026, ConocoPhillips said.
Meanwhile, new exploration programs are planned by both companies this winter, with ConocoPhillips planning up to seven new test wells to further delineate the oil resources at Willow and to test promising new discoveries that are nearby.
Oil Search will also be exploring, with its work focused on two prospects adjacent to the “Horseshoe” discovery south of Pikka that was made by Armstrong Oil and Gas in 2015. Oil Search subsequently acquired Armstrong’s Alaska assets including the share of Pikk and Horseshoe.
In other North Slope exploration, Eni Oil and Gas is planning to restart drilling in February at a long “extended-reach” test being drilled into federally-owned acreage north of Spy Island, an offshore production site at the company’s Nikaitchuq field.
Eni began the well in late 2017 but ceased drilling due to seasonal restrictions, later restarting operations and halting again because of operational issues. The company hopes to complete the well and to conduct a production test in 2020.
When it is completed Eni’s well may be one of the longest extended-reach well of its type drilled in Alaska, with a total measured depth, including vertical and lateral segments, of about 35,000 feet. The well had already been drilled to 30,000 feet by last April, when operations were suspended most recently.
In another exploration development, Accumulate Energy Alaska, a subsidiary of Australia-based 88 Energy, is planning a new test well on the slope, the latest in number of wells drilled by the company. The new well is “Charlie 1” and it is intended to test new prospects near the unsuccessful Winx No. 1 well drilled by Great Bear Petroleum in the 2018-2019 winter season, in which 88 Energy was a partner.
88 Energy, through Accumulate, also drilled two other wells, Icewine No. 1 in 2015-16 and Icewine No. 2 in 2017, which were to test shale oil prospects near the Dalton Highway east of the Winx and Charlie 1 locations.