Great Bear Petroleum has now completed both of its initial vertical test wells, the Alcor No. 1 and the Merak No. 1, and is in the process of determining the next steps in its shale oil project on Alaska's North Slope, Patrick Galvin, Great Bear's vice president of external affairs and deputy general counsel, said in a Nov. 2 email.
"Great Bear is currently conducting complex technical analysis on the well data and whole cores to evaluate the results," Galvin said. The company has acquired a large amount of core and other well data, he said.
In September, Ed Duncan, Great Bear's president and CEO, told the Alaska Oil and Gas Congress that his company had found oil as anticipated in source rocks encountered by the Alcor well and that the thicknesses of the source rocks had exceeded expectations. The well penetrated all three of the North Slope's major source rock intervals: the Shublik, the lower Kingak and the GRZ/HRZ.
Great Bear has acquired state leases across a fairway of land in a region south of the producing North Slope oil fields, in an area where geologists think it likely that the source rocks have in the past generated oil. The company wants to determine whether it is possible to produce oil directly from any of the source rocks, in a similar manner to oil production in shale oil plays such as the Eagle Ford and Bakken in the Lower 48.
Great Bear has staked out a series of six test wells alongside the North Slope Haul Road, to the south of Deadhorse. The Alcor No. 1 and Merak No. 1 are the two most northerly wells in this series.
Assuming that this initial testing pans out, further determining the technical and economic viability of production will entail more drilling and hydraulically fracturing horizontal wells through target source rocks, to test their production characteristics.
Apparently buoyed by initial drilling results, Great Bear has applied to Alaska's Division of Oil and Gas for permission to conduct extended production tests using its initial horizontal wells, once these wells have been drilled. The company's approved plan of operations assumes just five to seven days of testing but the company wants to extend the test durations to 180 days. This extended testing would eliminate the need for a pilot test pad for production testing, thus potentially enabling a decision in mid-2013 on whether to move to a full-scale shale-oil development, Duncan told the Oil and Gas Congress. Great Bear had expected to make that decision in 2014.