Buccaneer makes progress; one tideland permit OK’d

Buccaneer Energy on Tuesday announced that work on its jack-up rig in the Homer Harbor is nearing completion and that the Endeavour-Spirit of Independence will soon be ready for operations at the company’s Cosmopolitan site off Anchor Point.

In a press release, Buccaneer updated what’s been done and what remains to be done, including:

n The parts required to address a manufacturer recall for the fast rescue craft have been shipped and will be installed in the next few days. The recall was issued after the rescue craft was purchased and installed in Singapore. The parts have been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

n The general alarm system, which had been certified in Singapore, but failed testing on arrival in Homer, has been updated and the system is working properly. A new, replacement system also has been delivered and will be installed as future rig operations allow.

n The rig’s Novec firefighting system has been repaired and a new extinguishing agent will be used to refill the bottle that leaked. The system was installed and certified in Singapore, but a leak developed in a valve during transit to Alaska. The leak was discovered upon the Endeavour’s arrival in Homer. In addition, portable extinguishers have been installed at newly requested locations around the rig and an upgrade to the helideck foam system is being finalized to provide more reliable operation during winter operations.

Prior to its acquisition on Nov. 15, 2011, the Endeavour had been idle for several years, and Buccaneer and its venture partners, AIDEA and Ezion, deemed it necessary to complete extensive upgrades and repairs to ensure that the rig was ready for safe, long-term operations in Alaska, according to the release. The rig was dry docked at the Keppel Fels yard in Singapore for six months undergoing repairs and upgrades. That work has continued in Homer since the rig arrived Aug. 24.

 “The Endeavour is a world class jack-up, and it was essential that we completed comprehensive inspections and testing all of the systems before deployment,” said Andy Rike, Buccaneer’s executive vice president of operations. “While it has taken longer than expected, we are nearing completion on all tasks and are fully confident that the rig is ready for safe, environmentally sound operations. Once the permits are approved we will be ready to go.” 

A Tideland Permit application to anchor the jack-up rig in the Port Graham area was approved by the Alaska Division of Mining, Land and Water on Tuesday, said Cliff Larson, permitting manager for the southcentral region. 

“What we do is send the actual land-use permit to the applicant and they have to read, agree to the stipulations on the permit, sign it, we would receive our payment, our bonding and our insurance documents,” said Larson. “Once we receive those back, I would then sign the permit.”

The permit fee for Buccaneer’s jack-up rig is $250 per year based on the space it would occupy, bonding is $50,000 and the insurance amount is set by the insurance company.

A second Tideland Permit application is currently in the public comment period. If approved, it would allow the rig to be anchored at Buccaneer’s Cosmopolitan site near Stariski. Comments on that permit are being accepted until 5 p.m. Nov. 28. Questions on that application should be directed to Christy Colles, (907) 334-2683 or christianna.colles@alaska.gov.

In their press release, Buccaneer officials reiterated enthusiasm for Cook Inlet’s oil and gas potential.

“Buccaneer and its venture partners firmly believe that the Cook Inlet basin remains one of the most underdeveloped hydrocarbon basins in North America, and in the coming years the Endeavour will play a significant role in realizing that potential,” said Jim Watt, president. 

“The Endeavour will not only revitalize Cook Inlet exploration and development, but with this recent round of upgrades and refitting, the Endeavour is now suitable to support exploration and development operations in the Arctic waters such as the Chukchi Sea.” 

Buccaneer initially planned to use the Endeavour earlier this year to drill at its North West Cook Inlet prospect. The necessary permits and approvals for operations at that prospect had largely been secured before the Endeavour arrived in Alaska, according to the release.  However, as a result of work needing to be done on the rig, Buccaneer had to adjust its schedule for operations. Buccaneer will now begin its exploration drilling program at the Cosmopolitan prospect.  

Buccaneer acquired the Cosmopolitan prospect from Pioneer Resources at the end of August 2012 and began the submission process for all necessary permitting and
approvals shortly thereafter, according to the release.

“Previous drilling at Cosmo confirmed significant oil and gas potential at the prospect, and the Endeavour is ideally suited for exploring that potential,” said Mark Landt, vice president of land and business development for Buccaneer. “Since acquiring the Cosmo prospect, 

Buccaneer has been working diligently to secure all necessary regulatory approvals for drilling operations, and once permitting is secure, the Endeavour will immediately embark for its new location.” 

Starting this winter, Buccaneer plans to drill vertical offshore wells to evaluate the shallow gas formations known to be present at the Cosmopolitan prospect.

“The gas prospect has been estimated to have gas with a proved and probable reserve estimate of 90 BCF,” according to the release. “If the gas formations are determined commercial during our winter drilling program this year, new gas supplies could be flowing into the South Central Alaska market in 2014.”

In the coming months, Buccaneer plans to drill wells to evaluate the oil potential of the prospect after the Department of Environmental Conservation completes its review and approval of Buccaneer’s comprehensive oil spill response plan.  

“Buccaneer is working through the regulatory approval process, and we appreciate the guidance we have received from state and federal regulators,” said Watt in the release. “Buccaneer has made a long-term commitment to Alaska. We see a real future here for the company, and we are intent on working cooperatively will the state to establish a long-term business that will support good jobs, provide tax and royalty revenues to the state and local governments, and, most importantly, meet the energy demands of Alaska in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.”