Marathon Oil Co. is planning at least four new wells under its $22 million capital spending program for Cook Inlet this year and is stepping up exploration efforts in the region.
Along with continued production programs at the Kenai gas field, Marathon will continue its work at the Wolf Lake project on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, said John Barnes, Marathon's regional manager.
"The general activity level across Marathon's properties will be substantial this year," Barnes said. "We are also interested in exploration opportunities as well."
Marathon is one of the inlet's top producers of natural gas, with production in 2000 totaling 65 billion cubic feet. Daily production averaged around 178 million cubic feet. The bulk of the gas is sold to the liquefied natural gas plant it owns with Phillips Petroleum Co. Barnes said Marathon also supplies around 85 percent of Enstar Natural Gas Co.'s demand and also supplies Chugach Electric Association.
The year 2000 was a busy one for Marathon, which drilled six wells and one exploration well under its $22 million capital plan, Barnes said. The company also unveiled a new mobile drilling rig specifically designed for the Kenai Peninsula. Built near Tulsa, Okla., the rig began drilling in March. It is operated by Inlet Drilling.
"We've been pleased with the rig," Barnes said. "It's very mobile, the derrick and carrier can go down the road. And it leaves a smaller footprint."
Barnes said that translates to a smaller drilling pad and less environmental impact at the drilling site.
"It drilled 50,000 feet of well last year," Barnes said. "We are excited about the future of this kind of rig."
The bulk of Marathon's work in 2000 centered on the Kenai gas field, where four wells were drilled and two workovers scheduled to maintain production from the aging field.
Another well was drilled in the Cannery Loop field, while an exploratory well was started south of Clam Gulch.
Barnes said Marathon received the permits necessary to move ahead with its Wolf Lake project 10 miles north of Sterling on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The company plans to produce gas from Wolf Lake Well No. 2 and build five miles of pipeline to tie prospect into existing production facilities at its Beaver Creek field. From there, gas can be shipped to the Enstar pipeline, Barnes said. Another pipeline also is planned to take produced water from the Wolf Lake well back to disposal facilities at the Beaver Creek field.
"Right now, we're waiting for colder weather and snow to be able to get in there and do the work," Barnes said. "The ground needs to be frozen. It may be next fall before we get to it."
The KNWR holds the surface rights to the area, while Marathon is leasing the subsurface holdings from Cook Inlet Region Inc.
For 2001, Barnes said, Marathon will continue with production programs at the Kenai field that include more wells as well as workovers. Other production projects are planned for the Beaver Creek and Sterling fields as well.
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