Dual listed junior oil explorer 88 Energy Limited (AIM: 88E | ASX: 88E) is just weeks away from spudding its Charlie-1 appraisal well at Project Icewine on the North Slope of Alaska.
The drilling event at Charlie-1, which is on track for a late February spud, will see 88 Energy — along with its farm-in partner Premier Oil (LON:PMO), target 1.6 billion barrels of gross mean prospective oil resource, of which 480MMBO is net to 88E.
The drilling event will intersect seven stacked prospects and could see Charlie-1 emerge as one of the world’s biggest oil wells of the year.
While it has a long history of successful oil discoveries, Alaska’s North Slope is now seeing renewed industry interest as new technology and exploration incentives have made the commercialisation of once stranded resources possible.
Recent North Slope discoveries include the two largest conventional oil discoveries onshore North America in over 40 years: ConocoPhillips’ Willow and Oil Search’s Pikka discoveries.
These oil discoveries have been made in a new play called the Brookian Sequence, where massive amounts of oil — over 4.0 billion barrels — have been discovered over the last six years.
These discoveries demonstrate the commercial viability of a previously speculative stratigraphic play type with vast unexplored potential.
Here are some of those discoveries in the Brookian play, alongside 88E’s Project Icewine:
88 Energy now has all permits required for drilling in hand, with the Permit to Drill approved on 11 February.
The ice road to the Charlie-1 location is more than 80% complete and is expected to be completed in the next two weeks, while ice pad construction is due to commence shortly.
88 Energy executed a rig contract, via its 100% owned subsidiary Accumulate Energy Alaska Inc, with Nordic-Callista Services to utilise Rig#3 for the upcoming drilling.
Mobilisation of the Nordic Rig#3 to site is anticipated to begin in approximately 10 days.
Managing Director of 88 Energy, Dave Wall, said “Excellent progress has been made on the ice road construction, despite extremely cold temperatures. All permits are now in hand ahead of the scheduled spud in late February.”
Charlie-1 appraisal well: targeting 1,600MBOE gross prospective resource
Comprised of no less than seven stacked targets in the new Brookian play, the Charlie-1 opportunity is derisked by 88E through reinterpretation of nearby well results and acquisition of modern 3D seismic.
The appraisal well has been designed as a step out appraisal of a well drilled in 1991 by BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc called Malguk-1.
Malguk-1 encountered oil shows that showed promise, but due to complications towards the end of operations BP ran out of time before the winter drilling season ended and the well was not tested. Plus, it was drilled using only vintage 2D seismic, which was insufficient to adequately determine the extent of any of the prospective targets encountered.
88 Energy subsequently undertook revised petrophysical analysis, which identified what is interpreted as bypassed pay in the Malguk-1 well. 88E also completed acquisition of modern 3D seismic in 2018, in order to determine the extent of the discovered oil accumulations.
Charlie-1 will intersect seven stacked prospects, four of which are interpreted as oil bearing in Malguk‑1 and are therefore considered appraisal targets.
These seven stacked targets that will be intersected have all been identified using the same modern technology used to make the recent large Brookian discoveries and each of these targets could be a potential standalone development in its own right.
Funding sorted for Charlie-1 well
88 Energy will operate Charlie-1 via its 100% owned subsidiary Accumulate Energy Alaska Inc, with cost of the well to be funded by Premier Oil Plc (LON: PMO) up to US$23 million under a farm-out agreement that was executed in August 2019.
Premier Oil is a £850 million (A$1.6B) capped oil company with 80,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in production. It will fund the appraisal well up to a total of US$23 million in exchange for 60% Working Interest (WI) in a circa 40% portion of Project Icewine’s conventional acreage in ‘Area A’, the Western Play Fairway.
To further fund its operations, on 24 January, 88 Energy completed a share placement, raising A$5 million (£2.6M) at a price of A$0.021 (equivalent to £0.011).
88 Energy intends to use the funds from the placement to fund potential costs of the Charlie-1 well above the Premier Oil carry, and fund lease rental payments, interest payments due on the debt facility, new ventures opportunities, and finance ongoing working capital and general and administrative overheads.
The optimism and momentum in heading towards the spud of Charlie-1 has seen the company share price more than double to a much as 2.6 cents off its October low of 1.2 cents. The imminent spud of Charlie-1 could prove to be a major catalyst as investors lock onto the potential of Charlie-1 well and 88E’s larger Project Icewine.