The Territory of Alaska comprises more than 600,000 sq. mi. Increasing interest in the northern and central provinces as well as the southern province developed in 1957.
The northern province, including the Arctic coastal plain, has been withheld from public entry as Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4 and by Public Land Order No. 82. The U.S. Department of the Interior has recently announced lands withheld under P.L.O. No. 82 will be opened in 1958.
The central province including the Porcupine, Koyukuk, Bethel, and Nushagak regions is in a very early stage of exploration. Acreage leased in these regions by the end of 1957 probably exceeds 10 million acres. Surface geological investigations during 1957 totaled 21 party-months and seismic and magnetometer surveys 6 party-months.
The southern Alaska province includes the Copper River, Cook Inlet, Alaska Peninsula, and St. Elias-Coastal regions. Drilling activity increased 4-fold in 1957 over 1956. The total footage drilled in 1957 was 52,480 ft. as compared with 15,168 ft. in 1956. Drilling in the Cook Inlet basin resulted in a major discovery that may develop into the first substantial commercial production in Alaska.
In the Copper River basin no new activity except leasing took place in 1957. Total filings in the basin were approximately 2 million acres.
In the Cook Inlet basin the Richfield Oil Corporation’s Swanson River Unit No. 1 was completed for 900 b/d from 11,150 to 11,215 ft. in Tertiary sands. The well was located on the basis of seismic and surface data and is the first deep test in the basin. Following the discovery, competitive lease activity ensued and leases or applications to lease cover the basin.
In the St. Elias-Coastal region the Phillips Petroleum Company and Kerr-McGee Oil Industries, Inc. abandoned their Sullivan No. 2 as a dry hole at 12,048 ft. and terminated their development contract with the U. S. Department of the Interior. The Colorado Oil and Gas Corporation abandoned its Yakutat No. 1 at 9,314 ft. and at the end of the year was drilling ahead at about 10,500 ft. on its Yakutat No. A-1. Nearly all of the accessible land in this region was leased or under application.
In the Alaska Peninsula region Iniskin Unit Operator, Inc. tested its Beal No. 1, total depth 9,746 ft., and received oil and gas indications. The Humble Oil and Refining Company and Shell Oil Company’s Bear Creek Unit No. 1 was drilling at 6,586 ft. at the end of the year. About 3 million acres were leased or under application in the region.
Exploration in Alaska is expected to increase sharply in 1958 over 1957.