North Slope shale oil, gas potential emerging

By OGJ editors

Spare capacity in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System could provide an outlet for the development of oil in shale formations on Alaska’s North Slope (OGJ Online, May 4, 2011).

Great Bear Petroleum LLC, Anchorage, holds 500,000 acres of leases on state lands, the maximum allowed by law, acquired in 2010 and has filed an exploration plan that outlines the drilling of as many as four exploratory wells.

Wider interest in the shales could become evident at a state lease sale planned for Dec. 7 with 15 million acres on offer on the central North Slope.

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan has appointed a task force to “identify potential impacts and propose plausible solutions.” The Division of Oil and Gas will lead the task force with Greg Hobbs as project manager.

Great Bear has its eye on the Triassic Shublik, Jurassic Kingak, and shallower Cretaceous shales south of giant Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River oil fields. Initial studies indicate that the shales sourced the oil in the North Slope’s conventional fields.

If wells drilled this winter show promise, a pilot production project could be in operation as early as the 2012-13 winter. That would involve a small oil processing facility and the trucking of oil to Pump Station 1. Later commercial scale pad developments would also pipe natural gas to North Slope processing plants.

Ed Duncan, president and chief operating officer of Great Bear, is a 30-year North Slope veteran.

Duncan was part of a team that mapped, leased, and named the Kuvlum prospect in Camden Bay, led technical evaluation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, planned and managed wellsite operations for Sohio Petroleum on the Kaktovik-1 well in ANWR, mapped and leased Point McIntyre field leases in 1985, and conducted regional source rock sampling and mapping across the Brooks Range outcrop belt. Later he was an exploration consultant to Unocal Corp.

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