Oil, gas spending aimed at stretching production

Posted: Saturday, April 22, 2000

Unocal's Cook Inlet oil and gas operations are not presently for sale, the company says, and its capital program aims to slow natural declines in production.

"Alaska remains a good place for us to invest our money," said spokesperson Roxanne Sinz. "There is nothing we know of at the present time that suggests that will change in the near future."

Unocal operates 10 oil and gas production platforms on Cook Inlet and six of the region's 11 gas fields. The oil and gas business employs 261 Unocal employees and 94 contract workers from other companies, she said.

Sinz said Unocal's 1999 Cook Inlet oil production was 8.44 million barrels, all sold to the Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Co. refinery in Nikiski. Its local gas production was 100 billion cubic feet, all consumed by its Alaska Nitrogen Products plant in Nikiski.

The company's El Segundo, Calif., headquarters has not yet approved 2000 capital spending proposals, she said, but Unocal generally makes about $40 million per year in improvements to its Cook Inlet fields.

"Our plans are to be as active this year as we were last year," Sinz said.

Unocal just finished redrilling one well on the Steelhead Platform, boosting its production from 200 to 2,000 barrels of oil per day.

"That's the highest rate of any oil well Unocal has drilled in Alaska in the last 17 years," Sinz said.

A recent workover at a second Steelhead well increased its production from 450 to 1,100 barrels per day. At the Dolly Varden Platform, a side-track from one well doubled its production to 1,000 barrels per day. A workover at a second increased its production from 70 to 1,200 barrels per day.

If corporate headquarters approves the budget, Unocal plans similar drilling projects to further improve production from the Dolly Varden, Grayling and King Salmon platforms, in the Swanson River field and on the inlet's western shore, Sinz said. It also plans to install compressors to boost gas production at Swanson River and at Ivan River in the western inlet.

Unocal plans seismic surveys of three Kenai Peninsula prospects, she said. It continues to assess the prospects for developing coal bed methane in the Matanuska Valley with its 50 percent partner, Ocean Energy. Unocal has previously estimated that Cook Inlet coal fields could hold as much as 245 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

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