Doyon continues search for Nenana Basin oil and gas

Interior regional Alaska Native Corporation Doyon is not giving up on finding oil and gas in the Nenana Basin, southwest of Fairbanks. That’s despite more than a decade of exploration with various partner companies, including a 3rd well, drilled with Cook Inlet Region Incorporated this past summer. That exploration did not deliver a commercially develop-able deposit.

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Aaron Schutt is the president and CEO of Doyon.

”It’s discouraging every time you drill oil and don’t get success, don’t get me wrong,” Schutt said.

Doyon leases, or has subsurface rights to over 270,000 acres in the Nenana and adjacent Minto basins. Schutt said he remains optimistic for future finds.

“Three wells we’ve drilled, I wouldn’t say they’ve condemned any other parts of the basin yet,” Schutt said.

Schutt said successful oil and gas projects elsewhere in Alaska, including on the North Slope, show that it typically requires a lot of exploration. Doyon’s next project will be a 3-D seismic survey of a 64 square mile area to the north of last summer’s drill site. Like past seismic work in the region, Schutt said the survey is aimed at mapping potential reservoirs.

”Looking for trapping structures really. We’re not concerned about the basin generating sufficient hydrocarbons to have a commercial find somewhere,” Schutt said. “We just haven’t found a structure where the gas and oil are trapped in concentrations that you can extract them commercially.”

Schutt said if a survey indicates a potential reservoir, another well would be needed to verify it. He said the seismic work is slated for this winter, and added that CIRI is scheduled to decide next month if it’s on board with the project.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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