ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Forest Oil Corp. says results from a third well at its Osprey platform are encouraging and the company is confident the field will produce more than the 50 million barrels of oil predicted earlier.
''Number 3 looked as good as our first two wells,'' said Gary Carlson, senior vice president for Forest in Alaska. The first two wells led the company to predict the field could produce more than 20,000 barrels a day.
Forest now expects the field will yield well beyond the earlier estimate of 50 million barrels.
''We know it's more than that,'' Carlson said. ''This well makes our predictions even stronger. We've got some more geological data to analyze.''
Once the fourth well, begun this past weekend, is finished, the company should have a better idea of how much oil is available, he said.
The third well hit a pocket of natural gas that tested at 8.5 million cubic feet a day, Forest said.
For now, says Carlson, ''we're planning to use the gas that comes up with the oil to run our power plant.'' If future drilling shows a major deposit, some of the gas could also be sold, he said.
For now, Forest is working on permitting and engineering to run a pipeline to shore and make the other arrangements needed to get production started. Carlson says he's hoping to have oil flowing from the platform by the end of next year.
The Number 3 well was drilled to a total depth of 16,940 feet and had about 436 feet that showed oil. Reservoir quality was similar to the second well, so the well was not tested for production rates.
The well also punched 300 feet deeper without running into oil-water contact. That's a good sign, said Carlson.
''We always look at the lowest known oil and describe our accumulation that way,'' he said.
The fourth well, being drilled by Nabors Alaska, will run essentially due east of the platform, and north of the bore for the Number 3 well. The Osprey site is about a mile and a half offshore from the West Foreland peninsula on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet. That's basically across the inlet from Nikiski.
Forest is currently producing about 11,000 barrels of oil daily from its Cook Inlet fields, and has a share in three wells currently being drilled in the region, Carlson said.
''Cook Inlet is having a revival, it looks like,'' Carlson said.
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