Hilcorp, Aurora Outline Cook Inlet Drilling Plans

Shaylon Cochran

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     The summer drilling season is getting closer and operators in Cook Inlet have big plans for 2013.

     Hilcorp has submitted a request to amend its operations plan for its projects in the Ninilchik unit, onshore about 40 miles north of Homer. The amended plan calls for the drilling of up to two oil wells. Currently, Hilcorp is permitted to do gas drilling work at this site. The first would be a 12,000 foot exploratory well, with the possibility of a second if it proves successful.

     In its plan submitted to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Hilcorp says it may need to expand the existing drilling pad to accommodate a new drill rig and will determine in the next month if gravel will have to come from nearby wetlands, which would need a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

     The plan calls for 24-hour a day drilling as soon as the drill rig can be located on site, possibly as early as next month. The company anticipates completion of the well in 60 days, with testing going on for an additional 90 days. Hilcorp will construct a temporary truck loading facility to transport the oil from the six 400-barrel storage tanks it will have onsite, with two to four loads being transported daily.

     Another company, Aurora Gas LLC, has filed for permits to drill on the West side of Cook Inlet at Nicolai Creek, about 10 miles south of Tyonek. Aurora is another independent exploration and production company and has been in Cook Inlet since 2011.

     Their plans for Nicolai Creek include both new and old wells and updating infrastructure in the area including 700 feet of gravel road and a 60,000 square foot well pad. Updating that infrastructure will take about 3 weeks, according to Aurora’s plan filed with the DNR and another four weeks to drill its well. Aurora also intends to build a gathering line to transport gas to the Cook Inlet Gas Gathering System Pipeline for sales to Kenai or Anchorage.

     Representatives for both Hilcorp and Aurora did not immediately return phone calls for this story.

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