By Naomi Klouda
The Buccaneer Energy Limited jack-up rig “Endeavour — Spirit of Independence” was loaded onto the Kang Sheng Kou heavy lift vessel and is now en route to the Cook Inlet with a delivery expected the last week in August.
The delivery of the Endeavour jack-up rig to the Cook Inlet will complete the first phase of Buccaneer’s business plan started almost two years ago. The partnership with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority means the state of Alaska has invested $23.65 million into the purchase of the Endeavour. It will be drilling in the Cosmopolitan Unit in southern Cook Inlet, an area that is ice-free in winter. Instead of mooring the jack-up rig in the Homer Harbor, the plan now is to continue work off Anchor Point in the winter months. An additional advantage is that the rig can later be leased out for work in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, said AIDEA spokesperson Karsten Rodvik.
“The priority is drilling Buccaneer’s prospect. And they are required to use the rig for all of the inlet drilling as long as AIDEA has an ownership in the rig. The first series of wells will be Cook Inlet,” Rodvik said. “The rig was modified to make it capable for use in the Chukchi and Beaufort Sea. During 2012, it was to be on standby for major operators in those projects that presents an opportunity for Buccaneer to improve utilization of the rig.”
AIDEA is a public corporation of the state of Alaska, created in 1967 by the Alaska Legislature to promote “the health, security, and general welfare of all the people of the state.” Its mission statement is to increase job opportunities and otherwise encourage the economic growth of the state, including the development of its natural resources, through the establishment and expansion of manufacturing, industrial, energy, export, small business and business enterprises.
It is expected to take approximately 21 to 28 days for Endeavour to reach Cook Inlet, where the rig will be offloaded and towed via tug to the first well location in Buccaneer’s offshore program, by Anchor Point.
Bob Shavelson of Cook InletKeeper is watching the startup process for Buccaneer’s coming season, and wants to see blowout prevention equipment on hand before drilling work begins.
“They don’t have a contingency plan yet. The state (Department of Environmental Conservation) asked for it in January. If there were a blowout, they’ve said they will try to cap it. But the equipment they need to do that is located in Houston. If you can’t cap the well, you have to drill a relief well. There is no other rig available on short notice to do it in a timely manner,” Shavelson said.
Buccaneer has until Sept. 30 to drill two wells to keep its unit agreements.
Rodvik said that Buccaneer takes seriously their responsibility to operate in a safe manner.
“The minute Buccaneer got the letter they began taking action. We are confident in their capabilities to fully comply with all regulations and requests for information. Buccaneer expects they will have it all in place before the rig is on station. All permits need to be in place before operations begin, otherwise they can’t operate,” Rodvik said.
On completion of the drilling season, anticipated in early November, Buccaneer plans on towing Endeavour to the Cosmopolitan location in the ice-free southern Cook Inlet to commence drilling operations.
The Endeavour jack-up rig has the ability to operate in water depths up to 300 feet. It can drill to 25,000 feet. The desire to certify the Endeavour with the American Bureau of Shipping for the maximum five years so no interruptions to operations will be necessary meant that all key systems needed to be taken to workshops, stripped, repaired where necessary, and then reinstalled.
Buccanneer’s Cook Inlet leases are in northwest Cook Inlet, the Southern Cross Units and in the Cosmopolitan Unit. It also is developing the Kenai Loop onshore gas project.