Buccaneer Outlines Plans to Drill East of Homer

     Buccaneer Energy is having a busy summer. The company’s jack-up rig Endeavor is finishing a drilling project at the Cosmopolitan Unit in southern Cook Inlet while plans are being made to drill onshore near Homer. 

     Since Buccaneer Energy arrived in Alaska last year, most of the attention has focused on its jack-up rig Endeavor. After months of delays, stemming from needed repairs to the rig, the Endeavor has spent the past few months drilling in the Cosmopolitan Unit offshore from Anchor Point.

     During a public meeting in Homer Tuesday night, Buccaneer Vice President Mark Landt said the Endeavour rig just finished a round of well testing at Cosmo and in the next few weeks, the plan is to move the rig north in Cook Inlet to the Southern Cross Unit.

     Meanwhile, Buccaneer is preparing to drill onshore at the West Eagle Unit, 21 miles east of Homer. Landt says the plan is to move the company’s Glacier drilling rig to the site, once it is finished drilling in the Kenai Loop field near the Kenai Wal-Mart.

     "It's a lightweight rig," said Landt. "It's a very quiet rig and very transportable."

     The rig will be transported in pieces loaded onto trucks, said Landt, sometime in September. 

     Before that can happen, however, improvements need to be made to a section of East End Road at Mile 16.7, to accommodate the large trucks. Landt said Buccaneer will pay to straighten out a sharp S-curve in the road at that location, and is working with the Alaska Department of Transportation to make that happen next month.

     Landt says a crew of 17 people will be working at the West Eagle drilling site while the rig is being mobilized. After it’s in place, he expects the crew to be cut to two people and the traffic along East End Road to be much less.

     Against the backdrop of new exploration in Alaska, Buccaneer has been having problems at home. Earlier this month, a takeover attempt by a group of Singapore-based investors was partially successful, with three members of the board of directors removed after a vote in Sydney, Australia. Company CEO Curtis Burton had to fight to keep his job, while facing a Buccaneer stock price that had plummeted to four cents a share.

     Landt said Tuesday that the problems in Sydney have not affected operations in Alaska.

     "I can say that since our new board has come in, the direction of the company in Alaska has not changed one iota," he said. "We are still moving forward on all projects."

     State tax incentives have played a large role in bringing smaller companies like Buccaneer into Cook Inlet, something Landt acknowledged Tuesday.

     Turnout at Tuesday’s meeting was small, with less than 10 people there, asking questions about Buccaneer’s plans. Landt passed out comment cards to folks who showed up at the meeting, saying Buccaneer wants input from the community about its activities.

     "We actually have a very good relationship with the community in Kenai and I would hope that it would work here," said Landt. "I think ... our drilling and exploration is really compatible with the local community. You'll get used to us."

     But so far, Buccaneer hasn't really fit in all that well. Landt was admonished at Monday night's Homer City Council meeting for taking months to fulfill a promise to present the company's Blowout Contingency Plan. And local media has trouble communicating with the company through its public relations firm JMR Worldwide. It can take days for them to respond to requests for interviews, if they respond at all.

     Landt said he recognizes that Homer does not have the same history with the oil and gas industry that folks have on the central Kenai Peninsula and he appreciates the passion that people here have for the environment of Kachemak Bay.

     Buccaneer held another public meeting Wednesday night at McNeil Canyon Elementary School, a location much closer to the West Eagle drilling site. Landt says that, next month, the company plans to open an office in downtown Homer.