KENAI (AP) -- Forcenergy Inc. has finished driving the pilings that hold its new Osprey platform in place.
The Miami-based company hopes to begin drilling in Cook Inlet by the end of October and have the first exploratory well completed by early next year.
''Now, we're hooking up the quarters and power,'' said Gary Carlson, vice president for Alaska operations. He said the company is waiting for the drilling rig to be trucked to Anchorage and loaded.
Nabors Alaska Drilling Inc. is bringing its Rig 429 from the North Slope to Osprey. Carlson said it will take about a month to bring the pieces and set them up to drill.
Cook Inlet oil companies previously used a jack-up or floating rig to explore for oil and gas, then removed the equipment to build a production platform.
Forcenergy officials, however, took a different approach to explore the Redoubt Shoal prospect near West Foreland. Instead of importing a jack-up rig, they designed Osprey as an exploratory platform.
If the exploratory wells find sufficient oil and gas, Forcenergy will convert Osprey for production. If they fail, Forcenergy will move Osprey to another exploration site.
Carlson said Forcenergy has spent about $33.8 million on Osprey so far. Osprey is the first new platform installed on Cook Inlet since 1986.
Forcenergy permit applications to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggest Redoubt Shoal could produce up to 25,000 barrels of oil and 4.3 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. That could nearly double the inlet's present oil production of roughly 32,000 barrels per day.
The first exploratory well, which is expected to cost about $5.5 million, will extend about 15,500 feet from the platform. It will reach not only down, but also about 6,000 feet to the side to find the hoped-for oil. It probably will be done by late January, Carlson said.
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