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Buccaneer shares seismic study plans at townhall meeting

Posted: December 15, 2011 - 12:45am  |  Updated: December 15, 2011 - 10:55am
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Photo by M. Scott Moon
A standing room only crowd listens Tuesday night to the details of Buccaneer Energy Alaska’s plans for a 3D seismic survey for natural gas in areas in and around Kenai during a town hall meeting at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska.

Buccaneer Energy hosted a townhall meeting Tuesday at the Challenger Center in Kenai to explain some of its plans for seismic studies to the community.

The independent oil and gas company has plans for seismic testing in the Kenai area. That work is meant to inform the positioning of future natural gas wells tapping into the Kenai Loop natural gas pool.

Tuesday, representatives of Buccaneer and its contractor Weems talked to at least 187 members of the public about what the studies mean for residents of the area.

Buccaneer’s subsidiary, Buccaneer Alaska, has drilled two wells at its Kenai Loop development near WalMart. One of those wells is scheduled to start producing natural gas by the end of the month. The company wants to do seismic work to get a better sense of the gas formation before drilling a third well.

The exact location of the seismic work is unknown. The company sent 2,269 letters notifying property owners and others that the studies would be in their area. Some of the work will be done in neighborhoods around Kenai, including the area near WalMart, and other work will be done farther from the roads.

“We’re not disclosing it to the public,” said John Land, the permitting
coordinator for Weems, the contractor hired to oversee the project.

That’s for confidentiality reasons. The company has to file a map of the study area with the Department of Natural Resources, but it will be kept confidential, Land said.

“As competitive as the industry is worldwide, you have to be careful,” he said.

Buccaneer has access to subsurface minerals through permissions from the state of Alaska, the Alaska Mental Health Trust and Cook Inlet Region Inc., each of which owns subsurface rights in the area Buccaneer is studying. But the seismic work requires equipment above ground, so its looking for permission from the land owners to do that work.

At a teleconference last week, Buccaneer’s Chief Executive Officer Curtis Burton said the seismic study will help the company identify where the gas is, and how much there might be. Right now, the company has 2-D seismic work, subsurface mapping and logs of wells in the area that suggest quite a bit of gas is buried beneath the ground. Work done by third-party engineers suggest that there is a significant amount of gas. The seismic work is meant to confirm that, and provide more information on its location.

“The 3-D helps you to better identify what the structure looks like,” Burton said.

But first, Buccaneer is working through the permitting process for its
seismic efforts.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Land talked about the proposed work, which will be done by several contractors working for Weems.

Weems is trying to get signed agreements from landowners before it does the seismic work. The company is responsible for any damage it does, Land said.

“We leave your property the way we found it,” Land said.

Landowners are asked to write in any conditions to their permits. Land told community members Tuesday that they can ask for 48 hours’ notification before Buccaneer’s contractors begin seismic testing in their neighborhood or on their street, set certain terms about when and where the contractors can access their property, or add other conditions.

“Hand write that into your permit ― these are the structures, this is the distance” Land said.

Weems will compile all of those conditions into one database, and remind the contractors to follow them each day.

Land said he hopes to finish the seismic work by early march, and have the results for Buccaneer by April. Then, Buccaneer plans to use the results in deciding where to drill its next well.

Buccaneer does not yet have all of the required permits from other agencies.
Land said they are getting the information and paperwork together to apply for permits from the city of Kenai, the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the state. They intend to apply for those by the end of this week, or early next week, Land said.

Rick Koch, Kenai’s city manager, said the project will need special-use
permits to use the right-of-way permits that houses city roads and some adjacent land. That permit goes through the city manager’s office, but Koch said he expected to update Kenai’s city council throughout the process. The city looks toward protecting its assets as well as adjacent landowners, Koch said.

The exact specifications of the seismic work will be developed in the coming weeks. Depending on the foundation and surface, someone inside a typical home might think a garbage truck is driving by, Land said. The caravan doing the road will travel through neighborhoods, with each test point taking a fairly short amount of time.

“The length of time will vary, but I think three minutes is always a good average to go with,” Land said.

Land said Weems hopes to start working after the holidays.

“We work first light to 30 minutes before sundown,” Land said.
The seismic work will start with surveying the area to be studied. As part of the surveying process, Land said Weems wants to know about any potential hazards or concerns that might not be easily spotable ­­― like underground wells or other structures. Landowners are asked to help point those out. Those will get marked with GPS so that the company knows to stay a certain
distance from them.

After surveying and delineating exactly where all the testing will be done, Peak Particle Velocity Testing will be done to determine how fast energy put into the ground travels. That testing is done in two parts, with a preliminary low-drive sweep to get a feel for the area and the conditions before the testing is done at each spot. Assuming each sweep goes well, the vibrators will do the main work of sending energy to the ground. That’s when the area may rumble as if a train were going by.

In some places, where there isn’t road access, a contractor will use a
helicopter to bring equipment for shot hole drilling.

The company has some precautions in place to protect wells and other structures.
Before and after the seismic tests, a contractor will do flow testing on wells, to ensure that a homeowner’s water supply doesn’t change. They will also document the condition of each structure before testing begins, and do a sweep at the end to make sure nothing has changed.

Most of the work will be done from the road. And in the off-road areas being studied, the
contractor will use natural clearings to do its tests before taking out any shrubbery, Land said.

Weems does not have experience in Alaska, but Land said that many of the contractors using the equipment do. They know to adapt for different conditions as the initial sweep dictates.

During a question-and-answer session at the end of the presentation, Land said that if a property owner chooses not to return a signed agreement, the work will likely continue. In some cases, the contractors may just stay on roads and off the property, but generally they’d rather talk to the property owner and come to an agreement over their concerns. Ultimately, Land said that Buccaneer’s access to the subsurface minerals gives them a strong case to be on the surface.

“The surface is always subordinate to the minerals,” he said.

Land said that even if a homeowner doesn’t sign off on the project, the contractors are responsible for, and will take care, of any damage done. The exact timeline for filling claims is unknown. The idea that some damage might be hard to see was brought up at the meeting.

Land said Wednesday he was going to followup on that issue with others in the company on Friday. It could be a problem for both sides ― Weems might not know whether damage is pre-existing, and property owners might not be aware of a problem until after breakup.

Right now, there are four people working on the permitting effort. That number will increase to 60 or 70 as the work progresses. Most of those will come from the contractors, and be specific skilled labor jobs. There is a possibility of local hire for some of the jobs, Land said.

Molly Dischner can be reached at molly.dischner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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kksalm
232
Points
kksalm 12/15/11 - 09:48 am
0
0
a possibility of local hire for some of the jobs?

This ought to be a shot in the arm for local hotels for the influx of the out of state workers that will be arriving.
Siesmic surveys have been documented as affecting water tables. I'm going to have to hire an independant company to document my well since I'm not about to trust their guys.
Time to start posting those no trespassing signs.
Stay off my property!
Peace, out.

justamom
12
Points
justamom 12/15/11 - 12:24 pm
0
0
Big Picture

Some people would [filtered word] if they were hung with a new rope. Can't you see the big picture? This is great for the dwindling Peninsula economy, not the mention the entire state. Yes, we'll have to hire out of state, but not entirely. Stop hugging those trees for just a minute and realize that this is a GOOD thing. Good grief.

Allen
618
Points
Allen 12/15/11 - 12:40 pm
0
0
What Dwindling Peninsula Economy?

The Peninsula economy is not "dwindling" but is very healthy, experiencing slow but steady growth annually. That is perfect, as too much growth too fast leads to disasters.

This company has been very ham-handed in their approach, sending out letters and contracts that didn't even arrive until after their so-called "town hall meeting". We don't have to give them permission to enter our property to perform their testing, and seismic testing is not perfectly harmless. We need more information before we let them do their work on property.

I hope the City of Kenai will be careful in giving away our rights. I'm concerned that the City Manager claims that he can do whatever permitting he wants, but he'll keep the council "informed." We didn't elect him, we elected the city council members. They are the ones that should decide what goes on in the City with a project of this magnitude.

RoadClosedToKenai
24
Points
RoadClosedToKenai 12/15/11 - 01:27 pm
0
0
Letter Arrived Day After Meeting

I see I wasn't the only one who recieved the Town Hall/Slop Feed invite the day after it took place. The envelope was post-marked Dec. 12th from Anchorage for an event on the 13th. So after reading the article, our good friends at Buccaneer and Weems Geophysical sent out 2,269 letters to property owners and had only 187 people show up. Must of had a lot of Jambalaya left over!

Land said, if a property owner chooses not to return a signed agreement, the work will likely continue. In some cases, the contractors may just stay on roads and off the property, but generally they’d rather talk to the property owner and come to an agreement over their concerns. Ultimately, Land said that Buccaneer’s access to the subsurface minerals gives them a strong case to be on the surface.

“The surface (Peoples Home and Land) is always SUBORDINATE to the minerals (Buccaneers Profit),” he said.

So, you can't mail out something of this magnitude on time? I have to read your greedy and arrogant comments in the paper after a meeting, that obviously was not intended for 2,269 land owners. I don't think I will be sending back the permission slip Mr. Land.

By the way, I live on Beaver Creek off of Beaver Loop.
Oops, cats out of the bag...

granny
160
Points
granny 12/15/11 - 06:34 pm
0
0
Bad Start

I'm hearing from people in our neighborhood that they didn't get the letter until the day after the meeting. We're used to being treated like that by the city, which hasn't always worked out too well for certain elements in city government. We'll see how this plays out. Mark Schrag

ziggyak
82
Points
ziggyak 12/16/11 - 04:13 am
0
0
Not the only one that was a day late

Glad to see wasn't just me that got the letter the next day. First of all I am pro development and not one of those not in my back yard kind of people, but I don't think it is a good start to hold a meeting without proper notification. The letter did not say they would pay/fix all damage that they might cause on your property; it said it may pay a portion of damages. I have enough problems with the city/airport effecting my water well I don't need more problems from this outfit.

Norseman
3139
Points
Norseman 12/16/11 - 08:24 am
0
0
water table

If you have a well, get your water tested now. The last time a seismic company wnet thur our area we thought nothing of it.

Prior to the seismic exploration in our area, our well water had NO issues whatsoever. Afterwards, our water had an odor that was so foul you didn't want to shower in it. Our water also became so hard we had to put in a water softener/filtration system.

At the time we talked to Engineers and they said that sometimes the water table is fractured by the explosives and that it can alter the water your well draws from.

When we contacted the seismic company about the problem they said it was not their problem so sue us if you want.

I am for development and want to see opportunities for all Alaskans. We should not have to trade off our water and air because of it.

If you live in the area they are going to test, then do yourself a favor and get a professional water test done now. At least then you will have proof if something changes to your water.

bigbadbob
54
Points
bigbadbob 12/16/11 - 02:08 pm
0
0
surprised!

Hey granny- Surprised you let seismic testing escape the prohibited section of your own personal land use chart. What else did you forget? I thought you about had it all locked up.

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 12/16/11 - 04:06 pm
0
0
Test Your Drinking Water 12/16/11

Fri. 12/16/11
IF I were a Resident of the Beaver Loop area, I would make absolutely certain that my source of DRINKING WATER has been TESTED by a INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR
before this drilling begins. You have to have documented proof.

I sincerely suggest that any one that lives near a natural gas well view the National Geographic Movie : Gas Land
That will Shock as to What Happens when the drilling method called FRACKING is used to access Natural Gas Underground. This is not hear-say & speculation, these are FACTS.

Or you can just ignore the whole thing & Trust that the Oil & Gas Industry ie: Exxon & British Petroleum will Do the Right Thing.

SPW in Sloooooodotna

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 12/16/11 - 09:07 pm
0
0
Fracking

Enstar has been "fracking" in the Soldotna and Kenai area gas fields for the last couple decades. Fracking a well at 4,000 feet deep has no effect on your water well at 60 feet. Environmental hogwash from the creators of global warming.

Norseman
3139
Points
Norseman 12/17/11 - 08:23 am
0
0
hogwash

Pumping known carcinogens into the ground and you say they have no ill effects? Ignorance can be corrected with some knowledge.

When we try to find out what chemicals they are pumping into the ground, they claim it is propriortery information.

Pumping millions of gallons of this junk into our water systems and you say it is hogwash. I myself prefer clean water without all of the added ingredients that big oil wishes to add to it.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 12/17/11 - 08:47 pm
0
0
Got knowledge; know how to use it

It's not being pumped into our water system. None of your water comes from 4,000 feet deep. Everything at that depth is naturally "contaminated" with crude oil and methane. Just think for a second about what you're saying. If you were getting your drinking water from the same area that is filled with oil and gas, don't you think that it might have those products in it? Your water comes from within about 30 to 300 feet deep of the surface. The two of them are separated by thousands of feet of rock. Wise up.

Norseman
3139
Points
Norseman 12/18/11 - 08:01 am
0
0
(AP) Cheyenne Wyoming

The EPA's found that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, a small community in central Wyoming where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. Health officials last year advised them not to drink their water after the EPA found low levels hydrocarbons in their wells.

The EPA also emphasized that the findings are specific to the Pavillion area. The agency said the fracking that occurred in Pavillion differed from fracking methods used elsewhere in regions with different geological characteristics.

The fracking occurred below the level of the drinking water aquifer and close to water wells, the EPA said. Elsewhere, drilling is more remote and fracking occurs much deeper than the level of groundwater that would normally be used.

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 12/18/11 - 08:10 am
0
0
A Question of Trust 12/18/11

Sunday 12/18/11
Do You really believe that the Oil & Gas Industry can be Trusted & will tell you the Truth ? Give that some serious thought & consideration.

A Wise Alaskan would have their Drinking Water Tested & often by a Independent source meaning that source is NOT
Paid by the oil companies.

Or demand that these oil executives drink from the same faucet as your Family & see What their reaction would be to that demand.

SPW in Sloooooowdotna

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 12/18/11 - 09:25 pm
0
0
Check your facts

spwright said on 12/16/11 - 03:06 pm
"I sincerely suggest that any one that lives near a natural gas well view the National Geographic Movie : Gas Land
That will Shock as to What Happens when the drilling method called FRACKING is used to access Natural Gas Underground. This is not hear-say & speculation, these are FACTS."

SPW, while Gas Land has some facts, it does not have ALL of the facts. Things to consider:
1)Sources of their information are sketchy at best and in some instances non-existent.
2)Rarely do they interview the opposing side of the argument and when they do, they edit it heavily.
3)Many of the facts that they do present, the present the way it "delivers" the most impact to the targeted audience.
There is a great deal of "spin" in this movie and is not by any means the full truth.
I am not implying Gas Land is a total load of BS, but there is an ample helping of bovine fecal matter... speaking of which, how do you think 155 million head of cattle (beef and dairy), goats, chickens and pigs in the US affect ground water? Or the hundreds of thousands of tons of fertilizers that are spread on fields and yards every year. Do you think that may affect your ground water and create any health hazard? It's a level of risk we accept to feed ourselves and much of the rest of the world!
Formation fracturing has been implemented on the Kenai Peninsula for nearly two decades. Can it affect ground water even in a 4,000' ... 6,000' or 10,000' formation? YES. All it takes is a faulty cement job and a tubing/casing failure. Or simply a truck of chemicals turing over on the highway. There is risk! n
Now we, as an intelligent and objective people, have to a) understand the risk and b) determine what level of risk is acceptable. Virtually everything we do in a day has some level of risk. Do we have to trust the oil and gas industry? Not entirely. We have the internet and we live in the information age. Now we need to use our heads and make a wise and collective determination.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/dairy/background.htm
http://www.ers.usda.gov/news/BSECoverage.htm

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 12/19/11 - 10:50 am
0
0
Drink from the same Faucet 12/19/11

Mon. 12/19/2011
Obviously Kenai-Kid is involved w/ the Oil & Gas Industry in Alaska.

Keep It Simple: Demand that these Oil & Gas Executives
DRINK from the SAME WATER FAUCET AS YOU FAMILY.

Have your drinking water tested by a independent source before & after the drilling begins.

Why does Alaska continue to do Business w/ British Petroleum ? A foreign corporation that Kills It's Own Employees then causes the largest Oil Spill in American History in the Gulf of Mexico. ? ?

SPW "Airborne"

SPW"Airborne"

jlmh
352
Points
jlmh 12/19/11 - 01:43 pm
0
0
About getting your water tested

What the company is doing is a flow test (before and after), to make sure you can still draw water from your well after they plunder it. It is not a test for contamination. Having your water tested by bringing a little bottle to your local lab is not going to tell you anything about flow. That would be quite a bit more costly. Perhaps you could ask the company to reimburse you for the cost of having an independent company test this instead, but don't get it confused with water sampling that tests for things like coliform bacteria, arsenic and hydrocarbons.

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 12/19/11 - 05:40 pm
0
0
@ spw slow "Obvious?"

So what portion of my comment indicates that I would be involved in the oil and gas industry?
Is it simply because I stated Gas Land is not completely truthful? Or is it because I stated some objectivity to your view? Could it be because you believe all that is stated on a documentary that was aired on HBO?
All I said in my comment was "we, as an intelligent and objective people, have to a) understand the risk and b) determine what level of risk is acceptable." and to do this by finding actual documented facts from actual documented and objective sources. Gas Land is not that source. It bears some truth and some fact but it also spins much of the story for appeal to a specific viewer.
I feel my comment was unbiased. Niether for nor against gas drilling or formation fracturing (I seemd to have argued both sides of the spectrum ... which is the key to being objective). But since any form of mild objection to your views places me in one camp, I can only assume you are not an objective fact finder and tend to run wildly with half truths and spun "facts".

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 12/19/11 - 06:39 pm
0
0
More on Gasland

SPW,
You said Gasland was a "National Geographic Movie." It was not written, directed or produced by National Geographic, but by a young writer/director named Josh Fox. It was produced by Debra Winger.
Gasland premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The film is currently on the film festival circuit and premiered on HBO on June 21, 2010.

JOAT
487
Points
JOAT 12/20/11 - 12:19 am
0
0
Yawn...

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

They've been fracking the Kenai Pen gas and oil fields right under your houses for the last 40+ years already. How does your water taste now?

The oil & gas workers DO live here and DO drink this water.

This isn't Wyoming and this isn't shallow fracking. Stop comparing onions to grapefruit.

BP is free market. If you want an Alaskan company to take over the North Slope (how did we get BP into this again?), then create an Alaskan oil company and compete against BP to push them out of the market. If you want to personally pick and choose what companies get to work in your area, then move to a Socialist nation and take over.

Why don't you already have a water test on record from when you first purchased your house? Was it not important enough to you to get a water test before buying a property, but now that what you perceive as a deep-pocket industry is doing some work around town, you want them to buy you a water test? Makes no sense.

How many of you have actually asked this company to buy you a water test? You usually get better results if you just walk in and talk to the manager instead of bemoaning the company with false propaganda on the internet.

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 12/20/11 - 05:42 am
0
0
Farenheit 911

SPW... I suppose you believe everything in f
Farenheit 911 as well. How about Oliver Stone's "JFK?" Both present facts ... spun in a way that targets a specific viewer group. However, neither tell the whole truth and both use dramatic license ... sort of like Gasland.

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 12/20/11 - 11:01 am
0
0
Tis the Season 12/20/11

Tue 12/20/11
Well I could write a Novel on this issue but it wouldn't change a thing.

Now here's What is Really Important :

May YOU & YOURS have a Merry Christmas TOGETHER

May Our TROOPS COME HOME ALIVE & WELL & SOON
May GOD be with THEM & KEEP THEM SAFE!

Retiree SPW "Airborne"

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 12/20/11 - 11:21 am
0
0
@SPW

And a very Merry Christmas, a prosperous and healthy 2012 to you and yours. Thank you for your service to our great nation.

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