New platform arrives in Cook Inlet

Posted: Friday, June 30, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- The first offshore oil and gas platform installed in Cook Inlet since 1986 settled into place on the outgoing tide early Wednesday. The Osprey platform, owned by Forcenergy Inc., is preparing to drill for oil and gas in 45 feet of water near West Foreland, across the inlet from Nikiski.

''Everything went extremely well,'' said John Amundsen, safety, health and environmental manager for Miami-based Forcenergy.

Two Crowley Marine Services tugs towed Forcenergy's $35 million platform on Monday from the final assembly site in Port Graham to deep water near West Foreland. Tuesday night, they pulled Osprey to the shallows at Redoubt Shoal. It touched bottom on the outgoing tide early Wednesday.

The legs were being filled with water, and next month workers will drive a dozen steel pilings to anchor Osprey firmly to the bottom. In mid-August, Nabors Alaska Drilling will begin installing a drilling rig, expected to start boring holes the following month.

If all goes well, Osprey could be producing by the end of next year.

Forcenergy's permit applications to the Environmental Protection Agency suggest the company's Redoubt Shoal prospect could produce up to 25,000 barrels of oil and 4.3 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. That would be a huge boost to the inlet's present oil production of roughly 32,000 barrels a day.

Forcenergy, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, is using a novel approach with the Osprey platform.

Instead of bringing in a drilling rig, Forcenergy designed Osprey so it could be used as exploration, then converted to production. If the drilling isn't productive, Forcenergy can move Osprey to another exploration site.

Forcenergy has permits to drill four exploratory wells, plus a fifth well to inject drilling muds and cuttings for disposal. The company has budgeted $5 million to $6 million for each well, according to Gary Carlson, who heads the company's Alaska operations.

The first exploratory well will extend about 15,000 feet from the platform, Carlson said, and about 6,000 feet to the side. That well should take about three months.

If Forcenergy finds sufficient reserves, it will build undersea pipelines to carry the oil and gas 3.3 miles to Kustatan on the inlet's west shore. There, it will build a power plant and facilities to remove the water that comes out of the ground with the oil and gas.

Forcenergy also plans 7.8-mile pipelines to carry natural gas and crude oil from Kustatan to Trading Bay. From there, it could sell gas through existing Cook Inlet gas lines, and oil through the existing pipeline to a tanker terminal at Drift River.

Veco Inc. built living quarters for Osprey in Anchorage, while Hyundai Heavy Industries built the deck and legs in South Korea. Final assembly was done in Port Graham.

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