BP to step up its exploratory drilling on North Slope

Posted: Friday, October 06, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) BP is planning its most aggressive exploratory drilling effort on the North Slope in more than a decade.

One of the companys top executives said Thursday the effort this winter will include testing a geologic structure in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska that could hold significant amounts of oil.

The structure well be testing is about the size of the structure at Kuparuk, the second-largest field in North America, F.X. OKeefe, exploration vice president for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., told a breakfast meeting of the Resource Development Council in Anchorage.

But theres potentially a significant difference between structure size and reservoir size and the drilling will provide information on how much oil might be present, he said.

BP and its partners, Chevron and Phillips, plan to spend $30 million exploring in NPR-A. That includes construction of a 70-mile ice road and two ice drilling pads. The road and pads will melt away in summer.

OKeefe said BP also plans to drill six exploratory wells from pads already at the huge Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk fields.

By comparison, BP drilled two exploratory wells last winter and one the year before, he said.

Whats different this year are high oil prices, the streamlining of operations on the North Slope to bring down costs and the end of uncertainty created when BP announced plans in 1999 to buy Arco.

That combined the states top two oil companies. The latter problem went away when BP agreed to sell Arcos Alaska properties to Phillips.

Drilling from the Prudhoe and Kuparuk pads is designed to find and bring into production smaller pools of oil.

Unlike wildcat drilling in frontier areas like NPR-A, where discoveries normally need to be a hundred million barrels of recoverable oil or more in order to be commercial, satellites can be commercial with 10- to 30 million barrels, OKeefe said.

Drilling new wells to further develop existing oil fields also will speed up, OKeefe said.

BP forecast last month that its Alaska production would climb from 300,000 barrels a day today to 350,000 barrels within five years.

Phillips officials forecast a similar increase for their company.

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