Hilcorp Alaska, LLC became a new independent energy company in the Cook Inlet when they acquired Chevron and then Marathon's Inlet assets, but the faces within the companies are mostly the same, "Hilcorp is really the same friends and neighbors that you have known before depending on who they were working for in the past. The key difference is the organization as a company Hilcorp is very focused on acquiring legacy assets and then evaluating every well, field and platform to see what the maximum production capacity that can be obtained from it. Then we empower our employees to make the decisions necessary to keep the production line moving up and to the right. They are good stewards of the assets because they have a piece of them," says Hilcorp's Senior Vice President John Barnes formerly of Marathon.
At a recent community open house at the Soldotna Sports Center Barnes was joined by several of Hilcorp's lead personnel who talked about their responsibilities and projections for the future of oil and gas production in the area. Bo York, Facilities Engineering Manager explained the history of the Drift River terminal and storage facility and why and how Hilcorp planned to re-open it. "Back in 1968-69 when the facility went in they studied the Inlet to see where a deep draft tanker vessel could moor and the closest, deepest, spot to the shore line was where the Drift River terminal was located. The Christy Lee Platform is approximately two miles offshore which allows a deep draft tanker vessel of about 30 to 40 feet to moor up along side and transport the oil from the west side of the Cook Inlet to the east side. A lot of thought and engineering went into the designing of the facility in 1968 and in subsequent years like 1989 when an eruption occurred a significant amount of engineering for additional fortification and flood protection was done, which stood the test of the 2009 eruption. That is similar to the engineering that we are doing now undertaking to re-open the facility and further enhance and increase the flood protection around the existing tanks over there," explained York.
York noted that there was no oil spill that resulted after the 1989-90 eruption or the most recent 2009 eruption. "The tank dyke protective berm that surrounded the tank farm acted 100% as designed. The '89'90 design actually won an award at that time as one of the ten best projects of the year from a national engineering organization and the 2009 event again proved that the design was sound and acted 100% as designed. The 2009 event resulted in a flood that was 50 times the 500 year normal flood event for the Drift River Delta and because of the vast amount of water that came down it produced a lot of sentiment which deposited about 5-7 feet of soil in the area which raised the topography of the entire flood plane so in order have the same protection as the original design done in '89-'90 we are raising the dyke berm protective system and additional 15 feet to make up for the 5 to 7 feet of additional deposition from the 2009 event and get back to original design parameters," explained York.
Hilcorp has assembled a national design team that includes a design expert from New Orleans who is a 37 year career professional with the Corp. of Engineers who re-wrote the design manual following the Katrina hurricane event. According to York they have been working on the design for the last four months and plan to move to the construction phase this month and is planned to continue through September with construction planned for completion the first of October. The environmental contingency plan process which addresses spill contingency at the site is presently out for public comment and that period will close the 29th of June. The plan is to be finalized by the end of August.