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Chukchi Sea Exploration - The Second Cycle

Kirk W. Sherwood
Minerals Management Service, 3801 Centerpoint Drive Suite 500, Anchorage, AK 99503

The first (1988-1991) round of exploration in the Chukchi Sea led to the collection of 100,000 line-miles of 2D seismic data, expenditure of $512 Mm in high bids on 483 blocks (~2.7 Mm acres), and 5 exploration wells costing ~$35 Mm each. Eighty-five percent of the high bids targeted the 5 structures later tested by wells. Four of the wells encountered pooled oil or gas in minor quantities with the exception of the Burger prospect, where the discovered gas-condensate resources have been estimated at 14 Tcf. The drilling results support a characterization of the Chukchi Sea as a successful and possibly robust petroleum province with key ties to the prolific Alaska North Slope (onshore). The Burger 1 well targeted rocks equivalent to the Cretaceous Kuparuk Formation (Kuparuk field reservoir, 2,900 Mmbo orig. reserves). The other wells targeted rocks equivalent to the prolific Triassic Ivishak Formation (Prudhoe Bay field reservoir, 13,600 Mmbo). The Ivishak tests failed because of lack of petroleum charge (Diamond 1), seismic mapping error leading to missed sequence (Crackerkjack 1 and Popcorn 1), and facies change (Klondike 1). The organic shale facies representing the Ivishak Formation at Klondike 1 dimmed hopes for a Triassic-hosted Prudhoe Bay clone in the Chukchi Sea. The 2006 assessment of the Chukchi Sea forecasts 15,400 Mmbo and 76.8 Tcfg—one-third the mean, risked, undiscovered resources of the greater Arctic Alaska province (onshore and offshore combined) with 50,600 Mmbo and 223.6 Tcfg. Several Chukchi plays remain untested and offer great potential for future discoveries. A second round of exploration began in the Chukchi Sea with seismic data gathering in 2006. A lease sale scheduled for 6 February 2008 forms the first major milestone in the march to locate new hydrocarbon supplies in the Chukchi Sea.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90076©2008 AAPG Pacific Section, Bakersfield, California