88 ENERGY is on track for an October drill start after its wholly owned subsidiary Accumulate Energy Alaska executed a rig contract with Kuukpik Drilling LLC for the Kuukpik Rig 5.

Accumulate Energy Alaska will use Kuukpik Rig 5 for the upcoming Icewine 1 exploration well, with the company starting to move from Prudhoe Bay to the well site in late September.

The rig is a winterised rig with a telescopic mast rated for 400,000 pounds that is well suited for the drilling of Icewine 1, 88 Energy said in an announcement.

Kuukpik Rig 5 has drilled remote exploration wells in all areas of the Alaskan Arctic, including the Barrow gas fields, Umiat, NPRA and an offshore ice island in the Beaufort Sea.

88 Energy managing director Dave Wall said with the spud date for Icewine 1 fast approaching, it was great to have finalised a rig contract with Kuukpik.

“It’s been a tough year in the oil patch but, thanks to the hard work of the 88 Energy team as well as the support of our shareholders, [we are] one of the few junior oil companies providing investors with exposure to significant leverage to what could be a company-making well,” he said.

It came after the company’s lease plan of operations was approved by the Alaskan Department of Natural Resources division of oil and gas.

88 Energy’s oil discharge prevention and contingency plan and final permit to drill were still outstanding, but the company said it was confident these would be granted in ample time before the spudding took place.

88 Energy, the operator, holds a 87.5 per cent working interest in the Icewine project, with joint venture partner Burgundy Xploration holding 12.5% interest.

Kuukpik Drilling brings substantial North Slope and Cook Inlet experience dating back to the early 1970’s and four campaigns of work from 2005-2009 on the Big Island of Hawaii with a proven record of successful partnerships with multiple operators.