A small Alaska explorer has plans to drill for oil inside ExxonMobil’s Point Thomson Unit.
Jade Energy LLC received approval of its 2019 plan of development for Area F of the Point Thomson Unit from the state Division of Oil and Gas April 4.
The company previously took a 62 percent interest in the Point Thomson Area F lease in the southeast corner of the unit from ExxonMobil in a transaction approved last November.
The $4 billion Point Thomson development that ExxonMobil finished in early 2016 is focused on natural gas; the field is estimated to contain upwards of 8 trillion cubic feet of high-pressure natural gas. As a result, it is expected to be a lynchpin for any large gas export project.
Point Thomson sits on the eastern edge of state land on the North Slope and is adjacent to the northwest corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
After dealing with technical challenges related to the high gas reservoir pressure at Point Thomson that hampered initial production— approximately 10,000 pounds per square inch, according to ExxonMobil — the major now produces nearly 10,000 barrels of natural gas condensates that are stripped out of the gas before it is reinjected into the reservoir.
Jade Energy entered into a farm-out agreement with ExxonMobil in June 2018 to develop the Brookian oil prospects.
The company acquired 3D seismic data from Area F during the 2017-18 winter, the results of which will inform its drilling next winter, according to Oil and Gas filings. The target is Brookian formation reservoirs in the 12,000-foot range that are believed to contain significant amounts of oil.
BP drilled two exploration wells in the area in the mid-1990s known as the Sourdough wells and in 1997 BP and Chevron issued a press release stating they had confirmed approximately 100 million barrels of recoverable oil in the area.
However, the economic viability of the prospect was unclear at the time and the confidentiality period on the Sourdough well data has been extended, according to the submitted plan of development.
Anchorage-based Jade Energy is a startup explorer co-owned by Erik Opstad, who is the company’s managing member. Opstad has also recently been an Alaska manager for Accumulate Energy Alaska Inc., another Slope explorer that is the local subsidiary of Australian 88 Energy Ltd. Accumulate has led Brookian and unconventional oil exploration elsewhere on the Slope in recent years.
Opstad could not be reached with questions in time for this story.
Jade Energy plans to drill a well bore into the Brookian formations in next winter. From there, the rock samples will be evaluated to determine if they would be suitable for angled or horizontal development drilling, which the company believes is necessary to commercialize the field.
If it’s concluded the reservoir is compatible with the modern drilling techniques the well would likely be reentered during the 2020-21 winter when a lateral well would be drilled to appraise the prospect.
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at email@example.com.