Alaska’s North Slope yields large-scale, light oil discovery

Two exploration wells and 126 sq miles of 3D seismic have confirmed 6 billion bbl of light crude in place on Caelus Energy Alaska LLC’s Smith Bay state leases on Alaska’s North Slope, according to the company.

The Caelus-Tulimaniq #1 (CT-1) and step-out Caelus-Tulimaniq #2 (CT-2) were drilled in early 2016, targeting a large Brookian submarine fan complex spanning 300 sq miles. Subsidiary Caelus Energy Alaska Smith Bay LLC drilled and logged both wells, encountering an extension of the accumulation 5.25 miles northwest of the CT-1 discovery at the CT-2 location.

The operator encountered gross hydrocarbon columns in excess of 1,000 ft in each well. The CT-1 and CT-2 logged 183 and 223 ft of net pay, respectively. The wells were not flow tested due to seasonal time constraints, the company said in a press release. But extensive sidewall coring and subsequent lab analyses confirmed the presence of reservoir-quality sandstones containing 40-45° gravity oil.

Caelus is planning an appraisal program that will include drilling an additional appraisal well and acquiring new 3D seismic data over outboard acreage. The company believes the Smith Bay fan complex may contain 10 billion bbl of oil in place when the adjoining acreage is included. Due to the favorable fluids contained in the reservoir, Caelus expects to achieve recovery factors of 30-40%. Caelus Chief Executive Officer Jim Musselman added, “This discovery has the size and scale to play a meaningful role in sustaining the Alaskan oil business over the next three or four decades.”

The US Energy Information Agency reported that Alaska’s crude production dropped 6.8% month-over-month as of July and 2.6% year-over-year to 438,000 b/d (OGJ Online, Oct. 3, 2016).

Caelus owns a 75% working interest in 26 leases covering 117,000 acres in Smith Bay, about 150 miles west of Prudhoe Bay and 90 miles east of Barrow. The acreage is on state land offshore from the federal National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Contact Tayvis Dunnahoe at

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