Exploration

Hilcorp starts production at new Moose Pad viscous oil project in Alaska

S&P Global  News ~ Anchorage, Alaska — Hilcorp Energy has started production at its new Moose Pad viscous oil project in the Milne Point Field on the Alaska North Slope, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Milne Point is owned 50-50 by Hilcorp and BP, but is operated by Hilcorp.

“Production at Moose Pad came online in early April at an initial rate of 3,000 b/d flowing from two wells. Drilling and facility construction activities are ongoing,” said Hilcorp’s Lori Nelson in an email. “The facilities will make it possible to bring on additional production from our planned total of more than 25 producing wells.”

Hilcorp is estimating it will cost over $400 million to build and develop Moose Pad.

Peak production is anticipated to be approximately 22,000 b/d, Nelson said.

The company is planning for growth, however. David Wilkins, Hilcorp’s senior vice president for Alaska, told an industry conference in Anchorage last November that an oil processing plant built on the 14-acre Moose Pad is capable of handling 85,000 b/d of fluids, and the pad itself is designed to accommodate up to 50 wells.

Moose Pad is at the western edge of the Milne Point field near the Kuparuk River field boundary. The 14-acre pad is the first new production pad built in Milne Point since 2002.

An initiative Hilcorp has underway at Milne Point to help produce the viscous, or heavy, oil is a polymer flood installed in the field, Wilkins said last November.

The project, located at J Pad in the field, injects polymers in two horizontal wells that work in conjunction with two oil producing wells. Polymer injection works better at coaxing more of the thick oil from the reservoir rock than conventional waterflood, he said.

Wilkins said Hilcorp hopes to boost oil recovery from the typical 10 percent to 15 percent of oil-in-place with polymers to perhaps as much as 40 percent.

“There is an estimated 1.3 billion barrels of heavy (viscous) oil in Milne Point, so if we can get 40% it’s a lot of oil,” Wilkins said at the November conference.

As of late November, Hilcorp was producing about 10,500 b/d of viscous oil at Milne Point. The polymer injection is an important development because Milne Point production is becoming heavier over time, Wilkins said.

Other North Slope operators BP and ConocoPhillips are also producing viscous oil from deposits in the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River fields using other technologies.

— Tim Bradner, newsdesk@spglobal.com

— Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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