Six companies described as independents by the Kenai Peninsula Borough oil and gas office are actively looking for fossil fuels in and around Cook Inlet this year.
Northstar Energy Group Inc., which is pursuing permits to drill for oil and gas in the North Fork unit north of Homer, announced plans to build a natural gas pipeline from North Fork to Anchor Point and Homer.
Northstar also has said it is looking at building a line north to Ninilchik to connect with the Kenai Kachemak gas pipeline being built by Marathon and a subsidiary of Unocal.
With more than 100,000 acres under lease, Aurora Gas LLC looks to be a major player in Cook Inlet natural gas production.
Nearly half of Aurora's holdings are on the west side of the inlet in the Moquawkie area with other holdings on the peninsula from as far north as Birch Hills and as far south as Anchor Point.
Aurora has announced plans to drill at least six wells this year and is working on permitting for seismic activity on both sides of the inlet.
The company said its most promising prospects are its Nicolai Creek field and the adjacent Moquawkie area.
A relative new player on the west side of Cook Inlet, Pelican Hill Oil and Gas Inc. is one of the first true independents to use 3-D seismic, according to Bill Popp, oil and gas liaison for the borough.
Adding more than 11,000 acres north of Tyonek to its lease holdings, Pelican now has 58,000 net oil and gas lease acres, and is planning to drill five wells in 2003, looking for gas in shallow to moderate depths on the west side of Cook Inlet.
Escopeta Oil and Gas Corp. has not yet begun the permitting process to drill, according to the borough oil and gas office, but the company predicts it will drill its first well this year.
Escopeta and a holding company owned by its president and a Texas partner each own 50 percent of leases on 120,000 acres in Cook Inlet.
The company once estimated 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.35 billion barrels of oil at its Kitchen and East Kitchen prospects.
Evergreen Resources Inc. is an independent hoping to develop shallow coal bed methane gas in the Cook Inlet basin.
The company has drilled eight wells in the Wasilla area, and upon full development of the properties, anticipates producing 500 billion cubic feet of gas, according to John Kelso, director of investor relations.
Evergreen has said that unlike conventional gas, unconventional gas is easy to find, but difficult to produce, and slight variations in drilling, cementing, completion and production practices can make the difference in whether coal bed methane wells are successful.
Lapp Resources Inc. of Anchor-age, an independent that specializes in shallow natural gas exploration, has applied for eight leases in the Homer area on about 40,000 acres.
"If the leases are approved, we would farm out production with Unocal," said David W. Lappi, chief executive officer.
The company has operated in Cook Inlet since 1991.
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