Anadarko Prepares for Winter in Alaska

Plans are being made to drill a minimum of four wells on Alaska's North Slope later this year. At least two of the gas hydrate wells will be drilled on Anadarko's Prudhoe Bay lease. There has been not firm decision made on where the other wells will be drilled. Anadarko has "several options'' in the form of existing permits for wells in the Brooks Range foothills, the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the western North Slope, according to Anadarko spokesman Mark Hanley. Anadarko also is in the process of filing 15 more permits for other Foothills wells.

"We're still processing seismic from last winter, so no final decision has been made on the location of the well,'' Hanley said. The hydrate wells' effort is part of a project that is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, with about $4 million expected to come from the federal agency. Another $3.37 million will come from three private companies -- Houston-based Maurer Technology Inc., the lead contractor, and its partners Noble Engineering and Development Ltd., both subsidiaries of Noble Drilling Corp., and Anadarko.

Anadarko is in charge of designing a portable lab for on-site core analysis and storage. Applications have also been filed with the Alaska Division of Oil & Gas for 2002-2007 winter gas exploration projects in the Slope's Foothills area at its Dolly Varen and Arctic Char prospects about 60 miles south of Deadhorse and 10-20 miles west of the Dalton Highway. The company is considering five drill sites and possibly using an old gravel pad and airstrip in the vicinity as a staging area. Though Anadarko has developed several exploration scenarios, the company is seeking to drill only one well this winter at either of the two prospects.

Anadarko also told state officials that the Dolly Varden and Arctic Char prospects are too far inland to be covered by the Alaska Coastal Management program and should not require an ACMP consistency review.