Friday, September 23, 2011

Pioneer permitting two Nuna appraisal wells targeting Torok

—Eric Lidji

Pioneer Natural Resources Alaska Inc. is permitting a two-well appraisal program at its nearshore Oooguruk unit this winter as part of its nascent Nuna development effort.

Although Pioneer is calling this an exploration program, the bottom hole locations of the two wells are within the existing boundaries of the Oooguruk unit. Petroleum News typically does not classify a well as “exploratory” unless it is outside of a producing unit.

The program this winter involves drilling, hydraulic fracturing and testing two wells — one onshore and one offshore — as well as constructing associated ice roads and ice pads.

The offshore Sikumi No. 1 well would be a vertical well starting on ADL 355037, some two miles southwest of the existing Oooguruk Island, but still within the Oooguruk unit boundaries. The onshore Nuna No. 1 well would be a directional well starting on ADL 25528, some 2.5 miles northwest of KRU drill site 3S within the Kuparuk River unit.

Pioneer hopes to begin drilling Nuna No. 1 in early January and Sikumi No. 1 in mid-February, and continue hydraulic fracturing and flow testing operations through the end of April. Produced fluids would be taken to existing production facilities in the region.

While Sikumi No. 1 would be plugged and abandoned after completion, Pioneer said it plans to preserve Nuna No. 1 as a development well for future work in the region.

Pioneer plans to build an eight-acre ice pad at each drilling location, and a five-acre ice pad east of drill site 3S for storing materials and equipment. The company plans to build one ice road connecting DS-3S to Nuna No. 1 and two others connecting Sikumi No. 1 and Nuna No. 1 to the ice road that Pioneer builds each winter out to Oooguruk Island.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is taking comments through Oct. 18.

Targeting Torok formation

Pioneer brought the Oooguruk unit into production in the summer of 2008 by developing the Oooguruk-Kuparuk oil pool and the deeper and larger Oooguruk-Nuiqsut oil pool, but toward the end of last year began detailing a third horizon, the shallow Torok formation.
While most of the wells used to explore and develop Oooguruk to date have passed through the Torok formation, the company wanted to develop some of the reservoir from onshore facilities and outlined a potential Nuna development project that called for two new onshore drill sites and a tie-in pad, plus associated gravel roads and pipelines.

The DNR formed the Torok participating area in June covering 1,560 acres over portions of two leases — ADL 355036 and ADL 355037. Pioneer estimates that the Torok participating area contains 690 million barrels of original oil in place and believes it can recover as much as 25 percent of that using primary and enhanced recovery techniques.

Unlike the other participating areas at the unit, Torok does not enjoy royalty relief.

In September, the DNR expanded the Oooguruk unit to include four leases along its southern edge that bring the entirety of the Torok formation into the unit boundaries.

With the expansion, Pioneer agreed to an exploration plan that requires three pilot Torok wells from the Oooguruk drill site — one is already online and Pioneer expects to complete another soon — by March and a test well from a Nuna drill site by Jun 30 2013.

Pioneer must also decide by June 30, 2014, whether it plans to sanction Nuna. If so, the company plans to build the Nuna DS-1 pad by June 30, 2015 and begin drilling in 2016.

Pioneer said it might also build a second Nuna pad in the future.

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Republished with the permission of the Petroleum News