ANCHORAGE (AP) -- ChevronTexaco Corp. plans to spend $37 million on exploration and development in Alaska this year, up 48 percent from the $25 million the company spent last year.
Wade Fennel, development manager for ChevronTexaco's new Alaska business unit, told Petroleum News Alaska that approximately $13 million would be spent on the Point Thomson unit, scheduled to come on line in 2008, and $24 million on other North Slope exploration and development.
ChevronTexaco holds approximately 417,300 exploration net acres in Alaska's Arctic, including the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the central North Slope, Brooks Range foothills, the Beaufort Sea McCovey prospect and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Despite its long-standing one-third interest in Cook Inlet's Beluga River gas field, since its return to Alaska as an explorer, ChevronTexaco has focused on the North Slope.
''We're not doing anything yet in Cook Inlet. We only have so many resources and we think the opportunities are on the North Slope right now,'' Fennel said.
Part of the reason ChevronTexaco is not interested in Cook Inlet is because it believes Unocal has the gas market cornered.
''We were bothered by the contract they entered into with Enstar,'' Fennel said, referring to Unocal's exclusive agreement to provide natural gas to Enstar.
In comments to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska on the Unocal-Enstar agreement, Chevron officials said they did not think the contract promoted gas exploration by other players in the Cook Inlet basin because Enstar is the major buyer of inlet gas.
As for oil, ''Forest has had some recent success in the inlet, but it has been studied pretty heavily by people looking for oil. Anadarko was looking for oil in the inlet; Forcenergy (now Forest Oil) was looking for oil and they found it later on, but there have been a number of companies looking for oil and they have had difficulty finding it in Cook Inlet,'' Fennel said.
ChevronTexaco has not ruled out taking another a look at the Cook Inlet basin in the future, he said.
ChevronTexaco's Alaska business unit, officially formed in the days following federal approval of the merger of Chevron and Texaco in October, is headquartered in Houston. The group also has an Alaska office, opened last year in Anchorage.
The unit has 20 members between the two offices, including employees and contractors, Fennel said. The Anchorage office has three full-time employees.
Current Alaska production is 9,500 barrels oil net for Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and 1,500 barrels for Texaco Exploration and Production Inc. for a total of 11,000 barrels, Fennel said.
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