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Exploratory activity in Alaska increased considerably during 1959. Geophysical surveying and drilling registered the largest increases. Twenty wells were active during 1959, compared with 12 in 1958. Eight exploratory wells spudded during the year, compared with 3 in 1958. Significant exploratory wells were drilled in 2 basins never before tested--the Nushagak Basin in southwestern Alaska and the Koyukuk Basin in west-central Alaska. Three development wells were completed in the Swanson River oil field.
A major gas discovery was made on the Kenai Peninsula by the Union Oil Company of California and the Ohio Oil Company. The discovery well, Kenai Unit 14-6, was completed flowing dry gas at a 31,000 MCF/D rate from the Kenai formation. Two follow-up wells were also completed as gas producers.
Twenty oil companies sent field parties into the various sedimentary basins. At the close of 1959 there were 32,611,079 acres under Federal oil and gas leases and 101,639 acres under State of Alaska oil and gas leases. The State of Alaska offered the first offshore oil and gas leases. Bidding for these was higher than had been anticipated. The State obtained $4,021,031.43 from the initial sale.
A substantial decrease in surface mapping and a moderate decrease in geophysical activity are in prospect for 1960. Drilling will probably remain near the 1959 level.
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