Firms drill ahead on inlet projects

Two closely watched Cook Inlet exploration wells being drilled with jack-up rigs are reported to have reached or are approaching their target depths.

Furie Operating Alaska Inc., drilling the Kitchen Lights Unit No. 3 well in North Cook Inlet, has reached its planned depth of 10,400 feet and is making plans to do a natural gas production, a state official said.

Kyle Smith, petroleum land manager at the state Division of Oil and Gas, said the state receives daily drilling reports on Cook Inlet wells and confirmed that the well had reached its planned total depth and that an extended gas production test is planned.

Cathy Foerster, a commissioner with the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said the commission has been informed that Furie is logging the well and will seek a permit to flare gas during the production test, which is expected to continue for 30 days.

Meanwhile, on a second exploration well near Anchor Point on the east side of the inlet, Buccaneer Energy, an Australian company, reported on May 21 that it has set its “surface” casing at the Cosmo No. 1 well at a depth of 800 feet and will be drilling into its first target, the Tyonek formation that is known to contain natural gas.

Surface casing is a heavy gauge drill pipe that gives the well mechanical strength to support deeper drilling.

The Tyonek gas-bearing sands start at the 2,000-foot level and extend to 6,000 feet with multiple prospective gas zones, Buccaneer said in a press release.

The company plans to set another string of casing in the Tyonek and then drill deeper to the Starichnikof and Hemlock formations, which are known from previous drilling by other companies to contain oil.

Buccaneer said it will extract core samples in the oil-bearing zones to add to the available information on the resource. Once that is completed Buccaneer will conduct production tests from the shallow gas prospect.

The well location is just offshore Anchor Point, where there is an existing gas pipeline owned by Enstar Natural Gas Co. Buccaneer is using the Endeavour jack-up rig, of which it is part-owner.

On the Furie well further offshore, the KLU No. 3 is being drilled with the Spartan 151 jack-up rig. The well is near Furie’s KLU No. 1 well that drilled in 2011, and which discovered gas. It was too late in the season to conduct a flow test on KLU No. 1, however.

Furie officials said earlier that the 2011 test was drilled to test deeper oil formations and was not suited for a gas production test. In 2012 Furie drilled an exploration well at another location on its leases.

Tim Bradner can be reached at