ConocoPhillips plans 7 wells in Alaska petroleum reserve

Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - ConocoPhillips is planning to drill seven new exploratory wells in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The wells will be focused on the prospective Harpoon area southwest of the company's existing projects in the reserve, ConocoPhillips Alaska Vice President Scott Jepsen said during a presentation last week to the Alaska Support Industry Alliance. The wells will better delineate the large Willow prospect.

"We want to get more confidence around the geology and reservoir characteristics of the field, so that's one of the reasons we pushed back our startup date to around 2025-2026 now for the Willow development," Jepsen said.

ConocoPhillips announced the Willow discovery in early 2017. The company estimates it could produce 130,000 barrels per day at its peak.

Other company plans call for shooting three-dimensional seismic data around the Putu prospect near the village of Nuiqsut. The work will require about 165 miles of ice roads, Jepsen said.

"Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we'll be able to accomplish all this," he said.

ConocoPhillips in June announced the purchase of the Nuna project from Dallas-based independent Caelus Energy. Caelus sanctioned Nuna in March 2105 and indicated that it had authorized $480 million of expenditures on the project to that point. Caelus estimated up to 20,000 barrels per day from the project.

Jepsen said Nuna will be part of the Kuparuk River Unit and its oil will be processed through Kuparuk facilities, lowering development cost. Drilling will be done from the Nuna pad and a Kuparuk pad to minimize new infrastructure costs.

The company expects 400 laborers over one winter construction season will be able to prep the project for the first production in 2022.

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