Friday, July 27, 2012

Endeavour jack-up rig leaves Singapore for Cook Inlet

Tim Bradner
Alaska Journal of Commerce

Buccaneer Energy Ltd. said its “Endeavour” jack-up rig will depart Singapore for Cook Inlet at the end of July and will arrive in time to begin drilling at the first of two locations for exploration wells planned by the company.

A transit time of 21 days is expected, Buccaneer spokesman Dean Gallegos said in a press release.

The rig will be able to operate until late fall in Cook Inlet, as long as winter ice conditions allow, and will then be moved to drill the Cosmopolitan oil prospect in an ice-free part of the Inlet farther south.

In a related development, sources in industry, speaking on background, said another jack-up rig now drilling in Cook Inlet is reported to be close to completing its first exploration well, to a planned depth of about 14,000 feet.

The well is being drilled by Furie Alaska Operating LLC, using Spartan Drilling Co.’s Blake 151 jack-up rig.

The Blake 151 arrived in Cook Inlet last fall and began drilling on the well, drilling to about 8,000 feet before winter ice conditions caused a suspension of operations. Furie, the operator, reported a gas discovery at approximately the 8,000-foot test, which it was unable to fully test.

The Blake 151 was stored for the winter at Port Graham, in south Cook Inlet.

Buccaneer’s work on refitting the Endeavour rig in Singapore took longer than originally planned because extra work was done to make the rig suitable for Arctic operations. This will allow the rig to be used as a standby rig for offshore drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, Buccaneer said.

The work, at the Keppel FELS Shipyard in Singapore, also took longer than expected. “In early 2012 there was a change in federal regulations that required an increase in lifeboat capability for jack-ups operating in U.S. waters. This required engineering and steel works to be completed that were not originally anticipated,” Buccaneer said in its press release.

Finally, the plan to use the rig this winter to drill at the Cosmopolitan prospect meant that rig work planned to be done this winter was moved forward and done this summer, Buccaneer said.

The Endeavour has also been given a five-year certification by the American Bureau of Shipping, which means that it can operate for five years without an interruption in schedule for inspections. The unit is capable of drilling in 300 feet of water.

The rig is owned by Kenai Offshore Ventures LLC, a joint-venture of Buccaneer and Singapore-based Ezion. The State of Alaska has an equity ownership in the rig through the state development corporation, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority.

Buccaneer plans to drill two exploration wells in Cook Inlet with the jack-up rig, the “North West Cook Inlet” and the “Southern Cross” prospects.

The company acquired Cosmopolitan, an oil discovery, from Pioneer Natural Resources. Test drilling so far of Cosmopolitan has been with extended-reach wells drilled from shore, but the tests were technical problems of having to drill through coal seams.

Having the jack-up rig available to drill vertical wells will allow for a more thorough evaluation, Buccaneer has said previously.

The Cosmopolitan discovery was originally made by ARCO Alaska.

Tim Bradner can be reached at

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