ANCHORAGE - Forest Oil Co. has hit oil in Cook Inlet, possibly the first commercial discovery in the inlet in more than a decade.
A test well at the Redoubt Shoal prospect produced 1,010 barrels of oil a day, the company announced last week. Using special oil recovery techniques, officials with Denver-based Forest estimate that well could produce up to 2,500 barrels of oil a day.
"Drill a well like this and you can't help but be optimistic," said Gary Carlson, head of Forest Oil's Alaska operations. Forest Oil plans to drill up to three more exploratory wells in the next six months.
If the field meets expectations, Redoubt Shoal could hold as much as 50 million barrels of oil and produce 25,000 barrels a day. The inlet currently produces about 29,000 barrels a day.
"For Cook Inlet, that's some nice oil," said Chuck Logsdon, state's chief petroleum economist.
Redoubt Shoal could reverse the long decline in Cook Inlet oil production.
In the 1960s, Amoco drilled at Redoubt Shoal. The company hit oil, but opted to focus on other Cook Inlet projects instead. In the mid-1970s, Unocal also drilled at Redoubt Shoal. Again the company decided not to develop the field. The rights to develop the area shuffled through various owners until Miami-based Forcenergy bought the leases from Dan Donkel in 1996. Late last year, Forest bought Forcenergy.
If Forest decides to produce oil from Redoubt Shoal, Carlson said, the company will lay a 1.5 mile pipeline from the platform to a processing center on the shore.
Forest expects first production in the spring of 2002, according to a press release.
"I'm optimistic we're going to be moving ahead," Carlson said.