ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Evergreen Resources Alaska Corp. has applied to drill an eight-well exploration project to test the ability of coal in the company's 72,000-acre Pioneer unit in the Lower Susitna Valley to produce natural gas.
Petroleum News Alaska reports that in a 12-month operations plan filed with the state, the company said it is proposing to drill, complete and test wells in two areas, called pilots. In each, a central well will be drilled with three more a thousand feet away to the north, southeast and southwest.
''It is important to understand that we currently propose an exploration program designed to test the coal's ability to produce natural gas,'' Evergreen said in its application.
In a development program, wells would be spaced at greater distances.
Evergreen bought the Pioneer unit, 30 miles north of Anchorage between Wasilla and Houston, from Ocean Energy and Unocal in May 2001. Unocal formed the unit in 1997 to explore for coalbed methane.
The pilots are planned for an area north of the Parks Highway between Wasilla and Houston. Evergreen said it selected the sites to meet geological and engineering considerations and also to minimize possible impacts on the surrounding community.
Evergreen said its plan is different than previous coalbed methane development proposals at Pioneer.
''By utilizing our own equipment, Evergreen will reduce well location, drilling and completion time by 40 percent,'' the company said.
The first location is a mile and a half northwest of the Parks Highway and Big Lake Road on land where a private party owns both surface and mineral rights.
The company hopes to reach an agreement with the owner to drill on the property this summer.
The second area is along Church Road, two and a half miles north of the Parks Highway. Both the surface and the minerals are owned by the Alaska Division of Lands or the Mental Health Trust.
Ocean Energy drilled a water disposal well and built facilities and Evergreen said it will use them. Evergreen said it would begin building locations and roads July 15 and begin drilling Aug. 1.
Evergreen said there will be a nine-month production test. Water rate, gas rate and pressures will be recorded and analyzed to determine if the coals will produce economic quantities of gas.
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