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Buccaneer will drill for natural gas on land near Homer

Buccaneer Energy's Endeavour jack-up rig spent most of the winter undergoing work near the Homer Spit. Now it is drilling at the Cosmo site in Cook Inlet after leaving Homer in April. Courtesy Peter Law

Buccaneer Energy, the company that brought the jack-up rig Endeavor to the Cook Inlet, announced plans to drill at a site near McNeil Canyon School, Voznesenka and Razdolna at the well dubbed West Eagle.

The exploration project will begin by moving the Glacier Drilling Rig from Kenai to Homer, an endeavor that will take more than seven days and 40 truckloads, the company said.

The project will get underway in August, said Mark Landt, vice president of land and leasing for Buccaneer Alaska. The company plans to set up an office in Homer, and is beginning work on the construction pad as well as finalizing its permits for the project.

Landt said crews will begin 12-hour shift rotations to the site next month, traveling back and forth in vans to minimize vehicle traffic on East End Road. The well will be drilled up to 8,000 feet, he said, though the gas zone is apparently in the 5-6,000-foot range.

Landt said it is possible the company may encounter oil at those depths, but its intent is to look for gas.

“We still plan to produce a gas well rather than an oil well,” he said. Waste from the exploratory well will be transported back to Kenai, where the company has several options, including bringing it to the Kenai landfill. The company said it also plans to transport water to West Eagle, some 1,000 to 50,000 gallons a day, to support its efforts. If need be, Landt said, Buccaneer will go as far as Anchor Point to acquire the necessary water.

Transporting the drill rig will require some coordination with the Department of Transportation, Landt said, as at least one corner on East End Road needs work to allow the rig to safely travel to the site.

The project is expected to take 30 to 45 days. If successful, Buccaneer will go back in and test the well to see if it has enough flow, which could take up to 60 days. If successful, a gas pipeline either to Armstrong’s North Fork field or Hilcorp’s RED well are proposed, with production expected next year.

Landt said most of the permits needed for the project have been acquired. The permit to drill is still being reviewed by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, he said.

Homer City Councilman David Lewis asked if any local workers were being hired for the project. Landt replied that while crews from other drilling projects on the Kenai Peninsula were being employed on site, the only local Homer-area hires would be administrative workers to man the local office.

Buccaneer also reported on its Cosmopolitan Site drilling, which is offshore near Anchor Point, using the Endeavour drill rig, which caused a stir in Homer after it overstayed its welcome in the Homer harbor by some eight months. The rig arrived late last summer, but repairs and work on the rig stalled through the winter. It finally left Homer in April for the Cosmo site.

The company recently announced it found a section of potential oil and gas-producing reservoir rocks. Testing is expected to continue.

Landt said the Endeavor has allowed exploration of the Cosmo site at a level not previously possible with onshore drilling operations.

“Without the Endeavor, projects like Cosmo would not be possible,” he said.

Contact Carey Restino at crestino(at)reportalaska.com