ANCHORAGE (AP) Unocal Corp. said exploration and drilling of two small natural gas deposits near the Swanson River oil field on the Kenai Peninsula could begin as early as next winter.
Unocal and Marathon Oil Co. are partners in the project, with Unocal as operator. Cook Inlet Region Inc., the Anchorage-based Alaska Native regional corporation, owns the subsurface mineral rights.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed an Environmental Impact statement because the projects are within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Unocal is now working on permit applications for the East and North Swanson River satellite projects, according to Unocal spokesperson Roxanne Sinz. A review should take at minimum 50 days.
Assuming the review is completed without delays and permits are issued, clearing of right-of-way could begin in August, she said.
One project, called the East Swanson River Satellite, is five miles east of the existing Swanson River field. The second project, the North Swanson River Satellite, is three miles north of the Swanson River field.
The road will be built first to the east satellite prospect. If it is successful, the road will be extended to the north satellite so that it can be tested, Sinz said.
Unocal won't comment on possible reserves because it is an exploration project, Sinz said. She did say the company expects both to be gas projects rather than oil if commercial discoveries are made.
Both projects if fully developed would involve construction of three new drill pads and the upgrading of a fourth pad, according to documents Unocal has filed with state and federal agencies.
It would also include 11.7 miles of new gravel road, buried pipelines and utility lines adjacent to the roads, and construction of an additional 3.1 miles of buried pipeline and utility lines alongside existing roads near the Swanson River field.
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