An independent oil and gas explorer has applied for an Army Corps of Engineers permit to build a new production platform in Cook Inlet’s Kitchen Lights Unit.
Furie Operating Alaska proposed in a Dec. 4 application building three pieces of infrastructure in the area — the KLU Platform A near its existing KLU No. 1 well, an East Forelands onshore production facility and two 10-inch connecting pipelines to transport gas to onshore facilities. If approved, the platform would be the newest addition to Cook Inlet’s platform landscape since the late 1990s, a state oil and gas official said.
The Corps of Engineers is taking public comments on the proposal through Jan. 4, 2013.
According to its application, Furie’s platform, deck and components will be shipped north to either Homer, Nikiski or Anchorage from an out-of-state fabrication center. Furie’s Spartan 151 jack up rig will be used for drilling activities associated with the platform and a temporary platform rig may be used for some well completion and maintenance activities.
Furie is also proposing that the pipelines would run from the production platform to the east side onshore production facility following the existing Cook Inlet Gas Gathering System corridor operated by Marathon Pipeline Company. That production facility would be located about 16 miles southwest of the platform.
A 10- to 12 inch tie-in pipeline would carry processed natural gas from the onshore production facility to the CIGGS East Foreland Facility owned by Hilcorp and Marathon.
The platform would have a 64.5-by-72-foot production and main deck, 30-by-72-foot living quarters, a helicopter deck extending from one side and a 100-foot boom crane. The platform would be a monopod construction with an 18-foot diameter caisson connected to eight, 42-inch supporting pile legs.
Although the company did not indicate when it hopes to start construction on the platform, Furie President Damon Kade, in a spring interview told the Clarion the company would like to have the platform in place with gas headed to market by the end of 2013. Kade also said the company would permit for gas production initially with the idea of permitting for oil later.
However, Bill Barron, director of the state Division of Oil and Gas, said having the platform ready for operation in 2013 would be “an incredibly aggressive schedule.”
Furie, previously known as Escopeta Oil of Alaska, brought the Spartan 151 jack-up rig to the inlet in the summer of 2011 and spudded the KLU No. 1 well at a depth of 8,805 feet. It was the first company to bring in an exploratory jack-up rig to the Inlet in more than 20 years.
At the time it first drilled the well, the company estimated it found a total estimated potential of 3.5 trillion cubic feet of gas in the area.
Although the company labeled the gas find as the largest natural gas discovery in Cook Inlet in at least 25 years, some state officials were skeptical of that claim.
Barron said he “threw a bit of a skeptical eye toward” that number because the company “had no well test.”
“(Later) during the (legislative) session, the president of Furie ... actually commented that it had dropped, their reserve estimate of what they were publicly going out with was now 750 bcf or .75 tcf, which is a rather significant change,” he said.
In a recent email, Kade said he could not discuss the results of this summer’s drilling campaign or comment on the gas estimates of the Kitchen Lights Unit, but did say the company concluded drilling in October and stacked the rig for the winter.
Barron said he did not know the results of Furie’s summer exploratory drilling as the company is not obligated to disclose that information to the Division of Oil and Gas.
However, the fact that Furie is permitting for a platform within 1,000 feet of that well might be an indicator of the gas reserves there, Barron said.
“While it is not a wild speculation, I think anybody that would go through the process of permitting in an endangered species habitat would probably have something worth working on,” Barron said.
Shannon Morgan of the Corps of Engineers’ regulatory division said any comments received on the proposal would be factored into a decision document. The Corps of Engineers also looks at a number of factors including salmon habitat, and effects to Cook Inlet beluga whales and Stellar sea lions.
“With structures in navigable waters we are always looking at navigation and … ensuring there are no impediments to the public’s right to free navigation,” Morgan said. “And then everything that goes under our review like endangered species impacts, essential fish habitat and are there any cultural resources impacted.”
Barron said the last two platforms built in the Inlet were Forest Oil’s Osprey in the late 1990s, and Marathon’s Steelhead in the early 1990s.
There is currently one other monopod platform in the Inlet, Barron said, which is owned and operated by Hilcorp.
“There’s a few three-legged platforms out there and there’s a few four-legged platforms, but there’s only one one-legged,” he said.
Usually a monopod platform design is used in a fairly tight structure that requires a low number of wells, Barron said. The design is usually smaller, more economical and has a smaller footprint and facilities, Barron said. A monopod would also be quicker to design and quicker to build, he added.
“With a big platform, like say the Steelhead, you’ve got a lot of surface area to put in a lot of facilities,” he said. “On a monopod you are very limited to the top structure.”
Barron said he was curious to know if the company chose a monopod design because it planned to add a second platform in the same area or if the smaller nature of the platform better fit the gas estimates there.
Kade and other Furie officials did not return Clarion phone calls seeking comment by press time Thursday.
“Anytime anybody steps up with those kinds of applications is probably a very positive indicator,” Barron said.
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