Caelus Energy is leaving Alaska, at least as an oil field operator.

Eni Operating US will take over from Caelus as owner and operator of the small Oooguruk field on the North Slope Aug. 1, but Caelus will retain its majority ownership in a promising Alaskan Beaufort Sea offshore discovery.

Celeus vice president Pat Foley said that the company is not selling interests in a discovery at Smith Bay, which is in state waters off the coast of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, although the company has no immediate plans for further exploration, he said in an email.

“Smith Bay is a very promising discovery, but it has its challenges,” mainly because of a remote location, state oil and gas director Jim Beckham said in an e-mail.

Caelus has also sold Nuna, a small nearby oil deposit, to ConocoPhillips, but the deal has not closed. Nuna is a proven oil reserve that will be capable of about 25,000 b/d when developed, Caelus has said.

Meanwhile, Eni plans to invest and build up oil production at Oooguruk and another nearby small oil field, Nikaitchuq, which Eni also owns ans operates. The company plans new drilling of production wells at Oooguruk along with new wells at Nikaitchuq field and to bring both fields to 30,000 barrels per day. Nikaitchuq, where some drilling is underway now, produced 16,640 b/d in May while Oooguruk produced 9,920 b/d, for a combined 25,900 barrels per day, according to state of Alaska production data.

Both Oooguruk and Nikaitchuq are produced from artificial gravel production islands built in shallow water offshore, drawing on oil reservoirs that are in state-owned submerged lands.

Eni is meanwhile testing possible new reservoir targets in federally-owned Outer Continental Shelf leases north of Nikaitchuq.

The company began drilling a long “extended-reach” exploration well from Nikaitchuq into the OCS leases last winter but was delayed in drilling and did not complete testing due to seasonal restrictions on drilling agreed to with federal agencies. The company plans to continue the testing this upcoming winter and drill a second well as a “sidetrack” off the first well.

Last winter’s well was the longest extended-reach well drilled in Alaska, with a total measured depth, both vertical and horizontal, of approximately 35,000 feet from the location of the drill rig at the surface.

In other developments, independent companies are planning new production from small fields now in development. Brooks Range Petroleum Corp., an Alaska-based company, plans to have its small Mustang project in production by early September, company officials have said.

Brooks Range will begin production with 1,000 barrels per day from one well and then expand output after a lateral sidetrack is drilled from an existing well, increasing Mustang production to 2,000 barrels per day to 3,000 barrels per day, company president Bart Armfield said in a briefing to Alaska reporters.

In another project, London-based Panetheon Resources plans to have early production from its Alkaid/Phecda project south of the large Prudhoe Bay field in mid-2020, Pat Galvin, the company’s Alaska vice president, told an Alaska business group Friday.

Alkaid and Phecda are separate but adjacent reservoirs south of the large Prudhoe Bay field that are located nearto the Dalton Highway, which makes year-around access possible. Preapplication meetings with state and federal agencies have been completed, Galvin said.

Recoverable reserves in the two deposits are estimated at 90 to 100 million barrels with about 1 billion barrels estimated in place in the reservoir rock, Pantheon has said. A nearby deposit, Talitha, is estimated to hold 900 million barrels in place with a similar projected oil recovery. Pantheon plans to initially use mobile production units to process up to 1,500 barrels per day from four wells that will be initially producing.

Panetheon purchased the assets of Great Bear Petroleum earlier this year. Great Bear made the Alkaid and Phecda discoveries as a part of its exploration for potential commercial production from large shale resources on the North Slope, which has been unsuccessful so far.

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