2006/07 JV Exploration Plan
The JV participants have approved a budget to fund a 2006/07 Alaska Exploration Program, which contemplates the drilling of two exploration wells in the Gwydyr Bay Prospect Area, located to the north of the Prudhoe Bay Unit. The current plan is to drill both wells from the same onshore well surface location to offshore subsurface targets. Both prospects have been identified from mapping of 3-D seismic data and are interpreted to potentially have stacked oil reservoir targets. TG World will fund 50% of the well costs to earn 35% in the Gwydyr Bay Prospect Area.
The current budget also allows for the drilling of a third well during the 2006/07 winter drilling season. Management of TG World is confident that technical work currently underway will lead to the identification of a third well location for addition to the 2006/07 drilling program. If a suitable location is identified, the third well will be drilled under the drilling contract described later in this news release.
In addition, negotiations are ongoing for the purchase of several trade 2-D and 3-D seismic data sets covering JV Prospect Areas. A proprietary 3-D seismic program is also planned and budgeted for the 2006/07 winter season on JV lands. That seismic data is expected to be used to generate a prospect inventory for exploration drilling during the 2007/08 winter season.
The JV also plans to participate in the State Land Lease Sale in October 2006. As well, efforts to acquire additional existing leases on the North Slope are ongoing, as the JV seeks to consolidate the land position in joint-venture prospect areas.
TG World's share of the planned Alaska Exploration Program described above, which includes all project related G&A, is approximately US$17 million. On August 24, 2006, the Company completed the closing of a CAD$22.7 million equity financing, net proceeds of which are to be used to fund ongoing exploration and development of oil and gas assets in Alaska, in Niger and for general corporate purposes.
Nabors Drilling Rig 16E Contract Signed
BRPC, as operator of the JV, has signed a contract with Nabors Drilling Alaska for use of Nabors Rig 16E for the 2006/07 winter season. Nabors operates 17 highly specialized arctic rigs in Alaska and has been a leading North Slope contractor since 1963. Rig 16E is a 2,000 hp Beam Leg Mast rig with a 24,000 ft depth rating. The rig is currently in Deadhorse, Alaska - the Nabors service base for the North Slope. Routine maintenance work has commenced to prepare the rig for the upcoming drilling season. Permitting of surface access leases associated with the targeted drilling location is well underway and field operations are expected to commence with the building of an ice road to the drilling sites. Depending upon weather conditions, this could be as early as December 15th or as late as January 7th. The North Slope winter drilling season typically lasts until mid-April.
Baker Energy Contract Signed for Provision of Exploration and Development Support Services
On August 14, 2006, BRPC, as operator of the Alaska JV, signed a contract with Baker Energy, a unit of Michael Baker Corporation, under which Baker Energy is to provide exploration support services and, if discoveries are made, to assist in the development phase. Under the contract, Baker Energy has agreed to provide a broad range of managed services, including general project management, infrastructure design, data management, capital work program implementation, supply chain management, operations and maintenance and production reporting.
BRPC's Bart Armfield, Vice President of Field Operations, stated, "For a start-up independent operator like Brooks Range Petroleum, it is cost effective and it makes technical sense to outsource key operational services to a world class firm like Baker Energy who has a proven track record in field development and operations in challenging environments such as the Gulf of Mexico offshore and elsewhere. We are also very impressed with Baker Energy's record of accomplishments in safety and environmental protection which are critical success factors for any operator in Alaska."
With respect to 2006/07 exploration activities, Baker Energy is providing early logistical support in obtaining permits for ice road and drilling sites and is working to complete an HSE plan for the field operations. Baker Energy is also providing logistical and purchasing support for third party services and materials needed in the drilling operations. Baker's Alaska office is located in the same building as BRPC. The Baker Project Manager reports directly to a vice president at BRPC.
Under the terms of the contract, Baker Energy will also provide services in the development of any North Slope oil discoveries. The JV participants believe that having Baker Energy committed to provide services during any development phase is crucial, as the JV's goal is to tie-in a discovery and commence production in the following winter season, analogous to the Kerr-McGee Ataruq Field plan.
Jim Winegarner joins BRPC as Vice President of Land and External Affairs
BRPC recently announced that Jim Winegarner has joined the BRPC management team in Anchorage, as Vice President of Land and External Affairs. Jim was most recently employed at ConocoPhillips Alaska and has extensive experience in Alaska.
BRPC has now completed the staffing of its management team in Anchorage. Earlier in 2006, Doug Hastings joined as Vice President of Exploration and Larry Smith joined as Chief Geophysicist. Both Doug and Larry have extensive Alaska experience.
These three individuals join AVCG-associated staff Ken Thompson, Bo Darrah (President and CEO of BRPC), and Bart Armfield (V.P., Field Operations) in Anchorage.
Industry Exploration Success Continues
On July 14, 2006, ConocoPhillips announced that an overlying satellite field (named Qannik) had been added to its Alpine Unit. A 19 day test in the CD-404 well, in a 25 ft. thick sandstone at 4000 ft. sub sea, is reported to have produced an average of 1,200 bopd of 30-degree API oil. ConocoPhillips and partner, Anadarko have also announced that delineation and development drilling for 2006/07 is scheduled and first production expected in late 2008.
Cliff James, TG World President commented, "The ConocoPhillips announcement is significant to the JV in two aspects: First, this is the first discovery in a sandstone play fairway that is believed to extend from the coast, south to the JV held Titania, Itkillik River, and Ocean Point prospect areas. We expect that the JV will evaluate the potential of the Qannik sand play in these areas during the coming year. Second, the ConocoPhillips plan for first production by 2008 highlights the relatively short discovery to production cycle possible on the North Slope."
The ConocoPhillips release is the latest in a series of announcements concerning new discoveries in recent years. In 2005, Kerr McGee announced the Ataruq onshore discovery with initial plans for going on-stream in 2006 at 15,000 bopd. In 2004, Kerr McGee made the offshore Nikaitchuq discovery. Appraisal drilling is continuing, but last reports indicated this field has 60,000 bopd potential. In 2003, Pioneer made two discoveries - Ooguruk and Tuvaaq.
"We believe that these discoveries demonstrate the exploration potential remaining on the North Slope," commented Cliff James. "They are also significant because they were made by new entrants to the North Slope, companies that farmed-into lands assembled by an independent during the same time period that BRPC assembled its leases."
In its May 18th news release, TG World noted that ConocoPhillips/Pioneer was drilling the Antigua prospect near the JV's Whiskey Gulch Prospect Area. This exploration well has since been reported as abandoned. The significance of the abandoned well to Whiskey Gulch's prospectivity is uncertain at this time and further analysis is expected following the future release of the well data. The immediate consequence for the JV has been postponement of drilling of the Whiskey Gulch Kuparuk Sand Prospect until the Antigua well results are integrated into the prospect mapping. As a result, the JV does not anticipate any drilling at Whiskey Gulch in the upcoming winter season.
Overall industry exploration drilling activity on the North Slope (including National Petroleum Reserve Area "NPRA" lands) for the upcoming winter season has been estimated between 10 and 19 wells. As a result, the Company believes that the JV's drilling plans represent a significant portion of overall industry activity for the upcoming season.
TG World is a Calgary-based, junior international oil and gas exploration company. Through a wholly-owned subsidiary, TG World holds a 20% carried interest in the Tenere Block, an oil and gas concession in the Republic of Niger, Africa, measuring 71,155 square kilometers (17.3 million acres). The Tenere Block contains the northern half of the Termit - Tenere Rift. The southern half is adjacent to the Agadem Block, where Petronas and Exxon have so far drilled six announced oil discoveries and one gas discovery. CNPC International (Tenere) Ltd. (CNPCIT), a unit of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), holds the other 80% of the Tenere concession and acts as operator of the project.
TGE's interest in the Central North Slope Alaska Joint Venture includes a 25 - 35% working interest in approximately 172,000 net acres of lease lands and an AMI under which additional lands may be acquired. On March 18, 2006, TGE entered into a major exploration project through the formation of a joint venture on the Central North Slope of Alaska with Brooks Range Petroleum Corporation (BRPC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Alaska Venture Capital Group, LLC (AVCG).
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