Conoco aims to up North Slope production with new drilling rig

Conoco’s new Extended Reach Drilling Rig will allow the company to access more from a single drill site (Image courtesy ConocoPhillips Alaska)
Conoco’s new Extended Reach Drilling Rig will allow the company to access more from a single drill site (Image courtesy ConocoPhillips Alaska)

ConocoPhillips Alaska has announced plans for a new drilling rig on the North Slope that will more than double the area it can develop from a single drill site.

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The company is calling it a “potential breakthrough” and said the rig will increase production by making development possible in areas that are currently hard to reach.

It will allow Conoco to access an undeveloped field, Fiord West, from existing infrastructure. Fiord West was discovered in 1996.

Conoco spokeswoman Natalie Lowman said the state would not have extended the company’s Fiord West leases without the contract for the new rig.

“In order to retain our leases, such as those around Fiord West, we have to be able to develop them, and the [Extended Reach Drilling] rig allows us to do that,” Lowman said in an email.

Gov. Bill Walker said in a statement, “I applaud ConocoPhillips and Doyon for their work to spur production during fiscally challenging times. This is welcome news, as it fulfills lease terms for Fiord West.”

ConocoPhillips signed a contract with Doyon Drilling, which is under the Fairbanks-based regional Native corporation, to build the new rig.

It will arrive in Alaska in 2020.

Lowman said under the terms of the contract with Doyon, the company can’t release the rig’s total cost.