Great Bear Petroleum Operating LLC plans to drill three wells this coming winter to explore for conventional oil resources and learn more about unconventional plays.
All three wells -- Alkaid No. 1, Phecda No. 1 and Talitha No. 1 -- would be located just west of the Dalton Highway and trans-Alaska oil pipeline corridor. The proposed well locations are all southwest of the two vertical test wells that Great Bear drilled in 2012.
Great Bear plans to use one rig for the program, Nabors 106AC or an equivalent rig. The company told Petroleum News in October that it had already secured a rig for the season.
The drilling schedule begins in January 2015 with Alkaid No. 1 on ADL 391704, moves some three miles south to drill Phecda No. 1 on ADL 391704 and then moves some 10 miles south to drill Talitha No. 1 on ADL 391660. The company said it might rearrange the order of the wells based on weather, drilling times, well results and other factors. The company also intends to drill laterals or sidetracks, depending on time and results.
While Great Bear gave state officials a timeline from December 2014 to May 2015 for the program, the company told Petroleum News it might continue drilling later into the year, after winter, using approved all-year drilling sites located near the Dalton Highway.
The program requires two short ice roads from the haul road to two of the three ice pads -- a three-mile road to Alkaid and a three- to four-mile road to Talitha. The Phecda pad is adjacent to the haul road. For that reason, Great Bear plans to locate its temporary camp facilities at the Phecda pad, barring some unforeseen reason to use a different location.
The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is taking comments through Dec. 10.
Since it drilled Alcor No. 1 and Merak No. 1 in 2012, Great Bear has been conducting fieldwork on its central North Slope leasehold to determine future drilling locations.
The initial program envisioned six drilling locations hugging the eastern edge of the pipeline corridor to collect samples from Shublik, lower Kingak and Hue shale/HRZ, the three source rock formations underlying the region south of the Prudhoe Bay unit.
The goal was to bolster the slim collection of existing data about the region by obtaining information through a north to south transect. By understanding the geochemical and mechanical properties of the source rocks, Great Bear hoped to gain a better understanding of how the thermal history of the source rocks varies across the region.
After drilling, logging and collecting samples from the two most northerly wells, Great Bear suspended the program, in part because its rig contract expired at the end of 2012.
Geochemical testing of the samples took nearly a year, by which time Great Bear had decided to launch a surveying program to better identify "sweet spots" for drilling. While oil generally permeates source rock formations, certain factors improve productivity. And the varying temperatures within a formation can turn oil to wet gas and then to dry gas.
The surveying included 3-D seismic and Light Detection And Ranging, LiDAR, as well as other resources studies. The information suggested the presence of some conventional oil targets in the area, which would allow Great Bear to look for two things at once.
"The conventional plays can provide a good mechanism for driving infrastructure development across our leases, while the unconventional is developing," Great Bear President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Duncan recently told Petroleum News.
This story originally appeared in Petroleum News and has been republished with permission.