Approximately 75 people turned out Monday evening to hear Northern Cross Yukon explain its oil and gas exploration plans on Eagle Plain for the next decade or more.
Company president Richard Wyman told the audience there's a significant opportunity brewing in northern Yukon for the territory's economy and workforce, particularly if a commercial product is established.
He laid out a proposal for up to 20 more exploration wells over the next few years, based on the results so far from the company's 3D seismic program last winter.
Targets for the 20 wells have already been identified but how the project unfolds will depend on the results of further drilling and extended flow tests that will be used to help determine the productivity of each site, said Wyman.
The company president did emphasize Northern Cross has no plans to use hydraulic fracturing to get at the gas or oil, and is not expecting it will have to use fracking.
All the targets, he insisted, involve conventional drilling.
"We are looking for both crude oil and natural gas in this campaign,” said the company president.
Wyman said the company intends to submit its project plan to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board in the next week or two.
A tentative schedule posted by the company shows it hopes to be ready to renew drilling activity by January. The first extended flow test could begin by late next year, according to the schedule.
He explained the additional holes and the extended flow tests the company intends to conduct will eventually provide Northern Cross with the information it requires to determine if its supply of oil and gas on Eagle Plain is commercially viable.
"We just need to take a bit more time to understand it.”
Wyman said flow tests for each hole will need to go for about two years to provide the company with enough information to know what it's dealing with.
Each hole, he noted, will require year-round access.
Oil recovered during testing will have to be trucked south, though the company has not yet decided whether it will truck it all the way or ship it by sea through Skagway or other ports, he said.
Wyman said in addition to the 3D seismic program, the company is still analyzing data from four wells drilled between July 2012 and 2013.
Eagle Plain, Wyman reminded the audience, has the largest onshore potential for the development of oil and gas in the Yukon.
The Geological Survey of Canada estimates there are 4.5 million barrels of oil and six trillion cubic metres of gas, he pointed out
Wyman said the opportunities for the local economy are substantial.
Northern Cross would like nothing more than to shrink its main supply line from 3,500 kilometres into Alberta to a fraction of that, with links to Dawson City or Whitehorse, he said.
Wyman told the audience Northern Cross is committed to safety, respect, honesty, team work, inclusion and the environment.
"It is very important to Northern Cross that we are very transparent and open to what we are doing.”
He said while the company has received a substantial investment from the China Offshore Oil Corp., there is a still significant amount of Canadian interest in Northern Cross.
The company estimates it has already spent $120 million on its exploration program so far.
Northern Cross is holding meetings this week with First Nation representatives and the general public in four Yukon communities to explain its plans for the future.
Following the meetings in Whitehorse, the company moved to Mayo Tuesday, is in Old Crow today and will conclude the tour tomorrow in Dawson City.
Monday evening's audience included representatives of local survey, engineering and environmental consulting firms, the service and supply sector, environmental organizations, and several members of the territory's anti-fracking movement.
Surrounded by a handful of anti-fracking lobbyists following his presentation, Wyman told them the project proposal the company intends to submit for screening does not include a fracking option.
Should the company decide down the road to use hydraulic fracturing, it would have to go back before the assessment board and the regulatory agencies, he explained.
Wyman told the lobbyists the subsurface structure in the area of Eagle Plain occupied by Northern Cross is not of the shale type requiring fracking to release the hydrocarbons, as it is in southeast Yukon and across the way in the N.W.T.