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Buccaneer Energy could begin drilling this spring

Posted: January 22, 2013 - 1:04am

KENAI — The president of Buccaneer Energy’s Alaska operation said the company could be firing up its jack-up rig in northern Cook Inlet waters this spring.

The jack-up rig, called the Endeavour-Spirit of Independence, has been idling at dock in Homer since late August after encountering numerous problems, including delays caused by repairs and permitting complications.

What was planned as a short-eight day stay in Homer before leaving to drill in northern Cook Inlet waters has turned into a months-long delay. During that period, Buccaneer and the company hired to prepare and operate the $100 million rig, Archer Drilling, parted ways.

The 400-foot-tall jack-up rig, one of the largest such rigs in the world, arrived from Singapore in August. The plan was for the rig to stay a week or two before heading north to drill near Tyonek. But a series of problems has since dogged the rig and causing Buccaneer to miss a drilling window.

Buccaneer Alaska President Jim Watt said Friday at a luncheon of oil and gas industry officials that drilling could begin possibly in February or March, and at the very least once the snow has melted this spring, the Peninsula Clarion reported Monday.

Archer has filed a $6 million lawsuit in Texas District Court seeking payment for what it says are past-due bills for services and expenses from Buccaneer. Archer maintains it almost terminated its contract with Buccaneer twice before it eventually did and that the rig was not ready to move from Singapore as more repairs were needed.

Buccaneer has since reached a preliminary agreement with Spartan Drilling to take over repairs. Buccaneer officials said there would be no delay in it reaching its first drilling destination at the Cosmopolitan unit off Anchor Point.

Watt said during his luncheon speech that the rig’s delay is an indicator of Buccaneer’s commitment to safety and protecting the environment.

“Yes it has taken longer, yes it has cost more money for the company, but we want a rig we can be fully confident in to perform this operation offshore and that’s the focus,” he said.

Watt was also asked if Alaska’s oil and gas permitting processes were a factor in the rig’s delay.

“It is just something that slows the activity and it is part of doing business in Alaska,” he said.

He said streamlining the process would be helped by a one-stop shop where permits could be obtained for a plan of operations in an area instead of having to get a permit for every well.

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