ARCO Discoveries in Alaska May Mean Large Oil Reserves

Article excerpt

NEW YORK _ Two recent Alaskan oil discoveries could contain 1.75 billion barrels of gross oil reserves, Atlantic Richfield Co. officials told a meeting with security analysts in New York on Tuesday.

Arco said that the Sunfish discovery in Alaska's Cook Inlet has the potential to contain up to 750 million barrels of gross oil reserves if the geologic structures are filled and Arco's geologic concepts are demonstrated.

The Los Angeles-based company also said that the Kuvlum discovery in the Beaufort Sea involves a structure that could contain 1 billion barrels or more of gross oil reserves.

"Alaska is a marvelous proven oil and gas province which is still only lightly explored," said Lodwrick M. Cook, chairman and chief executive officer.

Over the years, Los Angeles-based Arco has been a major player in Alaskan exploration and development.

"Our strong competitive differentiation has become even stronger as other companies reduced their exploration efforts or abandoned the state," Cook said.

The Sunfish discovery, made in 1991, came in an area which many thought was "played out," he said. With a 1992 delineation well, the Sunfish sands were confirmed as commercially viable, and the North Foreland sand was discovered.

Arco, as a 60 percent partner, and Phillips Petroleum Co., as 40 percent partner, acquired nearly 130,000 acres to the south and west of the Sunfish discovery at a state lease sale in January 1993.

"We believe the discovery at Sunfish extends over this newly acquired acreage on the South Cook Inlet anticline," said H.L. "Skip" Bilhartz, president of Arco Alaska Inc. "We now believe we have identified enough economically recoverable oil at Sunfish to justify development, although several additional wells will be required to solidify the scope of those plans."

The Kuvlum discovery well, drilled in the summer of 1992, flowed at 3,400 barrels per day. Under producing conditions, Bilhartz said, "the rate could be greater than 10,000 barrels per day."

Data from the single discovery well indicate that the size of the structure could make Kuvlum the largest domestic oil discovery since Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk were discovered decades ago, he said.

The prospect, in which Arco has a 50 percent interest, could contain at least 1 billion barrels or more of gross reserves, Bilhartz said.

"Although the prospect is potentially a large one, its size does not match that of Prudhoe Bay," he said. "In the extreme case where the structure is full and the sands are thicker _ a case we give less than a 1 percent probability _ the structure could contain 6 billion barrels of oil. …

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