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88 Energy set to plunge into Alaskan winter oil hunt

The ground view of one of 88 Energy’s Alaskan oil projects. Credit: File

Oil explorer 88 Energy has confirmed it has multiple targets waiting to be tested at Project Phoenix project once the Alaskan winter operation season begins in October.

While the company waits to get boots on the ground, it plans to comb over scores of mud gas isotubes and wireline data in a bid to get a better understanding of the project’s composition.

Management has revealed that its Hickory-1 well is now cased and suspended as it prepares for well testing when Alaska’s operational winter period kicks off.

The company says it is confident, because of the extensive work done earlier this year, that all wells in the region will flow. While the tools are down at the site during the northern hemisphere summer, 88 Energy is using the time to organise permits and plan and source equipment, which comes with a long lead time. It will also soon select a rig for its work.

Mud gas samples were collected at 30.48 metre intervals and showed sizable peaks throughout the well. While it remains early days, a geochemist from 88 Energy’s laboratory declared that Hickory-1’s well had, “mud gas hydrocarbon contents all greater than 10,000 parts per million, which are indicative of strong shows”.

Mud gas isotubes involve analysis of the mud stream, which is the fluid circulating in the wellbore during drilling operations. The analysis is used to better understand the reservoir’s composition and to look for any links between it and other formations – a factor crucial for defining the overall structure and potential of a reservoir.

But the company already expects its well to be economical, with multiple hydrocarbon-bearing zones and wireline data showing its “net pay” zone sits at about 137 metres.

The most common descriptions for net pay allude to the portion of the reservoir rock which will produce commercial quantities, or the part of a reservoir which will help support production of hydrocarbons in several field development timescales.

After spudding in March, drilling at the Hickory-1 well reached a depth of 3246m. The company pushed through primary targets SMD A, SMD B and SMD C, in addition to the secondary Slope Fan System, in early April. It then struck a previously-unknown reservoir, now dubbed the Upper Slope Fan System.

Management says the reservoir quality and thickness is meeting – and in some cases exceeding – its expectations. It says data interpretations indicate average porosities ranging from 9 per cent to 12 per cent, with the Lower SFS showing porosities between 11 per cent and 16 percent.

88 Energy is the operator of Project Phoenix and has a 75 per cent stake in the site. The project is surrounded by market-ready infrastructure, as it sits adjacent to the Trans Alaskan Pipeline and the Dalton Highway.

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