Pierce leaves Cook Inlet legacy with Unocal

Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2005

After nearly five years, Chuck Pierce has left his position as Unocal's top executive in Alaska.

As of Feb. 1, Pierce, who had been vice president of Unocal Alaska since 2000, was replaced by John Zager, general manager of Unocal Alaska.

During Pierce's tenure, Unocal was active in natural gas exploration in the Cook Inlet area. Pierce is moving to Sugar Land, Texas, where he will serve as vice president of development for Unocal Indonesia, overseeing the company's deep-water development program.

Zager came to the company's Alaska business unit in 2001 and has been the Cook Inlet asset manager for the past two years.

He has a geology background and has been with Unocal for 23 years.

During 2004, Unocal continued actively exploring for natural gas on the Kenai Peninsula, and since 2001, has drilled 28 gas wells, including 11 in Happy Valley and two near Nikolaevsk.

Of the 28 wells drilled, Unocal remains the operator of 19.

On Nov. 5, the company began putting natural gas in a gas pipeline extension bringing gas from the Happy Valley area to market by connecting with the existing Kenai-Kachemak Pipeline.

Unocal operates 10 offshore oil platforms in Cook Inlet and has produced about 900 billion barrels of oil there, according to Ed Turner, gas development manager for the Happy Valley project.

The company also is active on the west side of the inlet, with ongoing natural gas operations in the Ivan, Stump, Lewis and Pretty Creek fields.

The company produced 41 billion cubic feet of gas in the Cook Inlet basin in 2004 and produced 5.6 million barrels of oil.

Unocal spokesperson Roxanne Sinz said the company plans to continue its crude oil production as long as economic limits permit and plans to continue its natural gas exploration activities on the Kenai Peninsula indefinitely.

Unocal at a Glance

Company headquarters: El Segundo, Calif.

Alaska operations senior executive: John Zager, general manager

Number of employees: 188 in Cook Inlet; 293 in Alaska

2004 capital expenditures: $66.4 million

2004 Cook Inlet production: 5.6 million barrels of oil; 41 billion cubic feet of natural gas

Local contact: (907) 276-7600

Company outlook: Unocal continues drilling on the Kenai Peninsula, primarily looking for natural gas.

The company also has ongoing activity on the west side of Cook Inlet in the Ivan, Stump, Lewis and Pretty Creek fields.

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