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Company sees promise in Alaska's shale oil potential

Posted: October 8, 2013 - 1:09pm  |  Updated: October 9, 2013 - 12:01am

ANCHORAGE — New data confirms a promising new source of oil in the shale rocks near Prudhoe Bay, Great Bear Petroleum CEO Ed Duncan said.

Duncan said his company is still reviewing the 3-D seismic data, which seems to confirm Great Bear’s earlier predictions about the resource south of Prudhoe.

Great Bear is the first company to actively pursue so-called unconventional oil in Alaska. In 2010, it leased about 500,000 acres of land from the state in hopes of finding commercially viable oil in the shale. Duncan is confident his company can extract the oil and make money using modern hydraulic fracturing technology, though he declined to provide specifics, APRN reported.

“There’s nothing not doable about our technical and our business thesis,” he said.

A 2012 report from the U.S. Geological Survey stated there could be up to 950 million barrels in the rocks Great Bear is focusing on. The company’s leases are about 15 miles south of Pump Station One on the trans-Alaska pipeline system.

To date, the small independent has drilled two exploratory wells, though it has six permitted. Duncan said it has invested over $100 million so far.

Acting state Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash said while the resource isn’t proven until more wells are drilled, he sees great potential.

“We think, our geologists think, that there’s tremendous opportunity with the unconventional resource, and we hope that Great Bear is just the first company to make a buck on it,” he said.

Great Bear plans to gather more seismic data this winter before unveiling their development plan — including how they plan to move oil off the North Slope — at the end of next year.

“Initial development would very likely be trucked to Prudhoe,” Duncan said. “And then longer term development certainly would warrant a dedicated processing facility and very likely a tap into the pipeline.”

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