AOGA: Alaska Point Thomson drilling under way

Alan Petzet
Chief Editor-Exploration

ANCHORAGE, May 14 -- ExxonMobil Corp. expects the first well in Alaska's $1.3 billion Point Thomson condensate project to cost $209 million compared with $6-8 million for a typical well in Prudhoe Bay field.

The first well was drilling May 13 at 3,600 ft in 7½-in. surface hole, Craig Haymes, Alaska production manager for ExxonMobil, told 540 people at the Alaska Oil & Gas Association annual luncheon. The Nabors rig, brought in over a 60-mile ice road from Deadhorse, Alas., underwent a $35 million upgrade. It now has a 172-ft derrick and a mud system that can pump 1,800 gal/min at 5,000 psi.

The well will turn horizontally under the Beaufort Sea from its coastal pad and reach a projected depth of 16,500 ft measured depth, Haymes said. Production at the gas cycling project is expected to start in 2014.

John Minge, president of BP Exploration (Alaska), said the company operates about 500,000 b/d or more than 60% of Alaska North Slope production. The net to BP is 204,300 boe/d.

One of BP's most important projects is Liberty, which involves the drilling from an existing island of an ultra-extended reach well 10,000 ft deep with an 8-mile lateral. BP Exploration plans to drill six wells in 2010.

Ken Sheffield, president of Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska and AOGA, said low oil and gas prices have led Pioneer to drop all but one drilling rig companywide, a unit drilling in Oooguruk field in northern Alaska. Pioneer was running 29 rigs a year ago.

Sheffield noted that Pioneer, which entered Alaska in 2002, produced its first barrel of oil in mid-2008 when Oooguruk field started up. The rig is drilling laterals in preparation for a frac program in mid-2009.

Resource potential of the area around Oooguruk is estimated at 120-150 million bbl, Sheffield said.

Rich Fox, Alaska asset manager for Shell, said the company will pursue its revised offshore plan to use one rig to drill two wells in a year starting in 2010. Shell shot more than 1,000 miles of 3D seismic in the Chukchi Sea in 2008 with encouraging results, he noted. He is optimistic about the program, having been involved in drilling wells in the Bering, Beaufort, and Chukchi seas earlier in his career.

Contact Alan Petzet at alanp@ogjonline.com.

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