ANCHORAGE (AP) Unocal Corp. is working with the state to extend the life of Cook Inlet's aging oil production platforms, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce.
Unocal operates 10 platforms in the inlet. It is engaged in a multi-year effort to upgrade artificial lift equipment in some wells, and is pursuing new approaches to do major maintenance on others.
The majority of the fields in Cook Inlet are over 30 years old, said Roxanne Sinz, Unocal's spokesperson in Anchorage. We can extend the life of these fields by using technologies like the electric pumps, which are a more efficient way of doing business,'' she said.
Legislation also is under consideration in Juneau that would reduce state royalties on 30-year-old oil fields in the inlet.
It's critical that we maintain the Cook Inlet infrastructure we have,'' said Gary Carlson, Forest Oil Corp.'s senior vice president for Alaska. These platforms are irreplaceable assets, and any extension of their useful life, any delay in abandonment, keeps them available to explore and develop smaller new deposits,'' Carlson told a state legislative committee in Juneau.
Forest is a partner with Unocal in several offshore inlet fields.
Meanwhile, one effort by Unocal to boost production from aging platform wells is having good results.
The company has a program in place to replace gas-lift artificial lift equipment with down-hole electric pumps since 1999, said Chet Starkel, a Unocal optimization engineer.
In most cases, the wells, which generally produce from 200 to over 600 barrels per day, have experienced a significant increase in their daily production rate once converted to electric pumps, he said.
The electric pumps are placed near the bottom of the producing wells and pump fluids, a mixture of oil and water, about 10,000 feet from the reservoir up to the surface. The conversion costs Unocal about $1 million per well.
The electric pumps replacing the gas-lift equipment are generally more automated and less costly to operate.
So far, wells on four platforms have been converted.
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