ANCHORAGE, Alaska—An Escopeta Oil jack-up drilling rig has been in Cook Inlet for only three months, but company officials announced Friday that it has discovered about 3.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- an amount they say could be the inlet’s largest energy discovery in 25 years.
According to a statement from the company, a single well drilled by the Spartan 151 rig reached a depth of 8,805 feet in the inlet’s Kitchen Lights Unit Oct. 28, discovering 46.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The jack-up rig is the first to explore the inlet in at least two decades.
Sean Parnell this summer, offers up to $25 million in tax credits to the first company to drill the inlet’s Jurassic Formation -- an area Escopeta plans to reach next year, after suspending winter drilling due to seasonal restrictions.
“Escopeta is very excited by the results of this well, especially since we are only halfway down to the planned total depth,” Bruce Webb, Escopeta’s vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs, said in the statement. “We still have to drill through the Tyonek gas formations, and then into the Sunfish and Hemlock oil formations, on our way to the Jurassic.”
The jack-up rig was transported from Texas and arrived at the inlet in early August. Shortly after the trip, Escopeta was assessed a $15 million federal fine by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for violating the Jones Act by using a foreign-flagged vessel to bring the rig to Alaska.
Escopeta says the huge find from only the first of five planned wells is enough to commence planning and engineering for commercial gas production. This year's results have prompted the company to consider an accelerated natural gas development scenario, which could produce new gas deliveries from the inlet as early as 2013.