Exploratory activities in the State of Alaska significantly increased in 1958 as a result of the discovery on the Kenai Peninsula, Cook Inlet area, in 1957. Surface and geophysical mapping increased 500% and 400%, respectively, over 1957, and were conducted by 15 oil companies in 9 area, of interest. These areas, in order of activity, are: Cook Inlet, Nushagak, Bethel, Alaska Peninsula, Porcupine-Kandik, Yukon-Koyukuk, and Arctic Slope.
Drilling increased slightly with 12 wells active at various times. The total footage decreased however, from 52,480 ft. in 1957 to 47,578 ft. in 1958. In the Kenai district, the Standard-Richfield Swanson River Unit well No. 1, the discovery well completed in 1957, was opened on a sustained production test flowing about 500 B/D from Tertiary non-marine sands of the Hemlock zone (named by Standard). Swanson River Unit well No. 2, two miles south of the discovery well, was completed from two zones in the “Hemlock” for about 900 B/D. Swanson River Unit well No. 3, located between and about one mile east of the completed wells, was a dry hole and may limit the easterly extension of the field. A fourth well is now drilling in the unit. In the Ninilchik district, Cook Inlet area, the Standard-Richfield’s Deep Creek Unit well No. 1 was abandoned at 14,221 ft. and is Alaska’s deepest test to date. No information is available on this well. As of December 31, there were 5 drilling wells in Alaska.
Alaska land filings now total about 40-million acres of which approximately 75% were subsequent to the discovery on the Kenai Peninsula. Four million acres, adjacent to Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4 in the Arctic Slope area, and originally part of lands withdrawn under Public Land Order 82, were offered in 1958 on a drawing basis following a 60-day “simultaneous” filing period. Sixteen thousand acres on the Gubik gas field were put up for competitive bids. Other parcels of land previously withheld under Public Land Order 82 are to be offered on drawing in the near future.
Impending benefits to the oil industry from Alaskan statehood will be: (1) the availability of tidelands for leasing; (2) the establishment of separate State quotas on lands, excepting those kept in the federal domain for reasons of national defense, etc.
All phases of exploratory activities are expected to increase in 1959. The greatest activity will probably again be in the Cook Inlet area.