Cook Inlet gas exploration planned

Posted: Sunday, February 02, 2003

KENAI (AP) -- A Texas-based company is planning an aggressive seismic testing program on the west side of Cook Inlet near Tyonek to look for natural gas.

Andy Clifford, executive vice president of exploration for Aurora Gas, said Thursday from Houston that the company is reacting to the shortage of natural gas in Southcentral Alaska.

''That is all we are focused on in Cook Inlet,'' he said.

Following its recent acquisition of ConocoPhillips' Moquawkie Field interests north and east of Tyonek and all of Anadarko's Cook Inlet lease holdings, the company is ''preparing for an active year in Cook Inlet,'' Clifford said.

Aurora announced it had awarded a seismic acquisition contract to Fairweather Veritas DGC of Anchorage, which will conduct the upcoming 3D seismic program. Seismic testing will be done on 12 square miles on the Nicolai Creek gas field west of Tyonek and on 16 square miles at the Moquawkie prospect, Clifford said.

''No one has ever seen fit to do it before,'' he said, largely because of the expense.

The company plans to bring in what Clifford called state-of-the-art technology, gear that is taken for granted in the Lower 48, but may be rare in Cook Inlet.

''Only Marathon is a co-leader in Cook Inlet,'' he said. ''We like to say we are following suit in bringing the latest technology to bear.''

The seismic testing involves putting down a dense grid of shallow explosive charges that will be recorded by special receivers to give the company a detailed analysis of the subsurface.

The company will be looking particularly at shallow pockets of gas about 2,000 to 3,500 feet down.

''This will be the most extensive 3D program yet undertaken on the west side of Cook Inlet and will involve the first-ever multi-component 3D survey in the basin,'' Clifford said. ''Depending on the results of this work, Aurora plans to acquire more 3D in 2004.''

Environmental groups have expressed concern that seismic testing may endanger creatures in the area. Clifford said Aurora is trying to have minimal impact.

''We see this as low-impact seismic,'' he said. ''We have all the permits. We will have as little impact on the environment as we possibly can.''

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