Preliminary evaluation of data indicates Oil Search Ltd.’s Mitquq 1 exploration well has hit hydrocarbon pay in a Nanushuk reservoir interval in the Alaskan Pikka Unit development, the company said Jan.  22.

Referring to wireline logs and pressure and fluid sample data, the company said the well intersected 60 m (197 ft) of net hydrocarbon pay while targeting the primary objective. The amount includes 55 m (180 ft) of net oil pay and 5 m (17 ft) of net gas pay.

“The forward plan is to drill deeper to evaluate a secondary reservoir and then side-track the well to appraise the Nanushuk discovery with core and a flow test, which will help establish deliverability,” Peter Botten, managing director for Oil Search, said in a news release. “The early results from the Mitquq 1 well are encouraging, but we still require further information and validation, which will be gathered over the next few months.”

Work is also progressing for the Stirrup exploration well, which the company said is expected to spud soon. An ice road has been constructed, the well pad complete and the rig is onsite.

“Stirrup 1 is targeting a Nanushuk formation prospect southwest of the Pikka development area, with well results expected in early April,” the company said. “If successful, this well would also be flow tested, if time allows.”

The company aims to begin development drilling in 2021 for its Pikka project, targeting first oil in late 2022. Gravel-laying work has begun for roads and well pads.

“The objective of both Mitquq 1 and Stirrup 1 is to discover sufficient hydrocarbons to tie back to the Pikka development or to support new stand-alone oil developments,” Botten said.