88 Energy to reenter Icewine well to test production capacity
88 Energy is getting ready to test the production capacity of its latest North Slope exploration well as it evaluates seismic data that could lead to more drilling.
The small Australian independent explorer plans to reenter the Icewine-2 well on June 11. After pressure gauges are retrieved from down the wellbore, the company will employ a nitrogen lift to recover up to 4,000 barrels of drilling and other fluids from the reservoir before production tests begin, according to a May 21 release on its upcoming operations.
The nitrogen gas displaces the down hole fluids and allows them to be removed so, ideally, oil can begin flowing naturally after the process is complete.
88 estimates the work will take 10 to 14 days, after which time the well will continue to be flowed to test its drawdown pressure and decline rate.
88 Energy holds rights to roughly 475,000 acres of contiguous state leases south of the developed area of the North Slope.
It also holds a 100 percent interest in about 15,500 acres south of the Point Thomson gas field and adjacent to the western edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. BP drilled the Yukon Gold-1 well in the area in 1994 and hit oil at several depths of the 12,800-foot well but did not develop it, according to 88 Energy.
The company is working from the Franklin Bluffs drilling pad, about 35 miles south of existing North Slope fields, where it drilled the Icewine-1 well in late 2015. Its location adjacent to the Dalton Highway-trans-Alaska pipeline corridor makes it accessible year-round, a rare feature among Slope exploration projects that often require ice roads and winter-only drilling on undeveloped land.
The Icewine-2 well, drilled in early 2017, is focused on appraising the unconventional oil resource in the HRZ shale, which 88 Energy describes as “a prolific source rock” in the Brookian geologic formation.
The Brookian sequence of formations contains the shallow Nanushuk formation and the Torok sands, which have been the source of multiple large oil discoveries by Armstrong Energy, ConocoPhillips and Caelus Energy in recent years. The belief is the HRZ shale holds similar potential to the Nanushuk and Torok plays if it can be effectively fracked.
Additionally, the company is processing 3-D seismic data it acquired this winter over nearly 180 square miles on its large swath of acreage west of the Dalton Highway.
88 Managing Directory David Wall said via email the seismic information will inform company leaders about where their next exploration wells could be drilled. In February the state Division of Oil and Gas approved permits for the company to drill two exploration wells roughly 25 miles west of the Franklin Bluffs pad near the Kuparuk River.
The company had older, 2-D seismic over the area but did not feel it was sufficient to support base a drilling campaign on, according to Wall. Evaluation of the 3-D data should be done in midsummer, according to the May 21 release.
He said 88 leaders are confident that with the new data and drilling permits in hand they will be able to raise money for further exploratory drilling.
New seismic data from the company’s Yukon Gold leases should be available late in the year, as well.
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].