Department of Administration

Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

Alaska Department of Administration, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
Administration >  AOGCC >  Statistical Reports >  Current Oil & Gas Pools Statistics >  Katalla Field, Katalla Oil Pool
AOGCC Pool Statistics
Katalla Field, Katalla Undefined Oil Pool
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Operator: Alaska Crude Corp.
Index map for the Oil Pool showing it’s general location with respect to other oil fields.
Discovery Well: Alaska Development Company
  Well No. 1
  Permit No. 100-057
  API No. 50-069-10004-00-00
  Sec. 36, T19S, R05E, CM

Depth: 500’ MD / 500' TVD


Status: Inactive
Location: Southeast Alaska      
Orders: None Summary - Annotated References List of Wells

Natural oil and gas seeps occur along the Gulf of Alaska coastline within a long, narrow beltway (28 miles by 4 miles) that extends eastward from the edge of the Copper River Delta to the Bering Glacier. At least 75 oil seeps and 11 gas seeps have been observed at one time or another in the Katalla area, which lies about 50 miles southeast of Cordova. Local Native inhabitants undoubtedly originally discovered these seeps, but a prospector, Thomas White, is given credit for the discovering oil seeps near head of the Katalla Slough during 1896 and staking the first oil claims in the area. In 1901, the first exploratory well, known as Well A, was drilled near seeps on the banks of Oil Creek to a depth of 270 feet and then abandoned because of lost drilling tools. In 1902, The Alaska Development Company drilled the No. 1 well to a depth of 366 feet and obtained a flow of oil, resulting in the first commercial oil development in Alaska. From 1901 through 1951, at least forty-four wells were drilled or started in the Katalla area. Of these, 28 wells lay within the Katalla Oil Field and 18 produced oil.

First production from the Katalla Field reportedly occurred in 1902. A small refinery was built approximately one-half mile northwest of the field, and it began operations in 1912, producing gasoline and other products that were sold locally and in Cordova. A total of about 154,000 barrels were produced and sold until Christmas Day of 1933 when the refinery burned. Because of economic conditions, it was never rebuilt. The population dwindled and the local post office closed in 1943. By the mid 1940s only 12 permanent residents remained in Katalla, which later became a ghost town. In 1974, the refinery site was named to the National Register of Historic Places. All wells within the Katalla Field appear to have been plugged and abandoned.

The first comprehensive geologic studies of the Katalla area were conducted and published by George Martin of the US Geological Survey between 1903 and 1921. Nicolas Taliaferro published an account of the geology of the Katalla District in 1932. Despite the loss of the refinery, there was continued interest in the Katalla area as a target for oil and gas exploration. In the late 1930s, a geological field survey party representing the Standard Oil Company of California, the Tide Water Associated Oil Company, and the Union Oil Company of California investigated the Katalla area. During 1944 and 1945, teams from the US Geological Survey undertook extensive geologic field mapping and stratigraphic studies projects to appraise the oil potential of the Katalla area as part of the War-Mineral Investigations program. In 1953 and 1954, Phillips Petroleum Company and Kerr-McGee Oil Industries of Oklahoma City conducted field evaluations in the Katalla-Yakataga region.

In the Katalla area more recent exploratory drilling activities have been sporadic. During 1961, Richfield Oil Corporation drilled the Bering Unit No. 1 and No. 2 wells, which are located about 9 miles to the east and northeast of the Katalla Field. Both wells were drilled slightly deeper than 6,000’ measured depth, then plugged and abandoned. In 1969, Panoil Company began drilling the Katalla State No. 1 exploratory well in Katalla Bay. The well was drilled to a depth of 426’, and casing was run to 422’ and cemented. At that time, the crew noted unusual movement at the end of the drilling barge. Subsequent investigation revealed failures in numerous structural members of the barge. Because of concerns that the barge would collapse in the heavy surf, drilling operations ended, the well was plugged and abandoned, and the casing was cut off 6’ below the mud line. During 1985 and 1986, Alaskan Crude Corporation drilled the Katalla KS-1 exploratory well to a depth of 1,838’ on the patented land of Claim No. 1, which encompasses 465 acres and contains the Katalla Oil Field. According to the monthly report of drilling operations, no drill stem tests were run. Through-tubing swabbing was attempted to evaluate the flow potential of the well, but the results were reportedly not conclusive. Well KS-1 remains shut-in.

Landownership is complicated in the Katalla area. All oil-producing wells were located on Claim No. 1, which was patented under the placer mining law prior to the enactment of the oil and gas leasing law. Claim No. 1 was originally patented by the Alaska Development Company in 1906. In 1910, the Amalgamated Development Company obtained the rights and property of Alaska Development Company, including the claim. During 1916, Claim No. 1 and the refinery were bought by the St. Elias Oil Company. In 1945, Claim No. 1 was reportedly controlled by the Standard Oil Company of California. Since then, it has passed into private ownership. In April 2001, Cassandra entered into a lease-purchase agreement with the current owners of Claim No. 1.

Under the 1982 “Chugach Natives, Incorporated Settlement Agreement,” Chugach Alaska Corporation (CAC) was granted conditional right to all the oil and gas at Katalla for lands surrounding Claim No. 1 and other patented claims in the area through December 31, 2004, provided a well capable of producing in paying quantities was completed. During July 2000, Cassandra Energy Corp. of Kenai, Alaska (Cassandra) entered into a lease-option agreement with CAC for oil and gas rights on 10,134 acres adjacent to the Katalla Oil Field. Cassandra planned to drill two to three exploratory wells: one vertical well on the patented, private land of Oil Claim No. 1 and one to two directional wells drilled to bottom-hole locations on land conditionally controlled by CAC. In August 2004, CAC cancelled the lease-option agreement with Cassandra. Because no well was completed, the oil and gas rights for the non-patented lands at Katalla reverted to the Federal Government on January 1, 2005. Recent inquiries indicate that the oil and gas rights for several land parcels in the Katalla area remain privately owned (Claims No. 1 and 3, Redwood Claims No. 9 – 12).


Overall, the structure of the Katalla area has been characterized as “extremely complex.” Most of the known anticlines in this area are of small amplitude, tightly compressed, and lack structural closure. Wells in the Katalla Field are believed to have produced from fractured, relatively impermeable shaley rocks within the complexly folded and faulted middle portion of the Tertiary-aged (Miocene?) Katalla Formation at depths ranging from 360' to 1,750'. Comparable zones of fractured rocks along faults or folds elsewhere in the Katalla area appear to offer the best possibilities for discovering additional accumulations of oil.

Oil samples obtained from productive wells reportedly measured between 39-1/2 and 45-1/2 degrees API gravity, have a paraffin base, are high in gasoline and naphtha components, and are free of sulfur. The oil source for the Katalla area is believed to be the Organic Shale Member of the Katalla Formation. This shale ranges from 50 to 400 feet thick in the Katalla area, and some specimens of the shale emit a strong petroleum odor when broken. A sample of partly weathered organic shale collected in 1944 measured 5 percent total organic matter and 0.8 gallons of oil per ton of shale.

    Strat Column
Production: Chart      

  Oil (bbls) NGL (bbls) Gas (mcf) Water (bbls)
Cumulative 154,000 0 0 0
2005 Total
0 00 0
2006 Total
0 00 0
2007 Total
0 0 0 0
2008 Total
0 0 0 0
2009 Total
0 0 0 0
2010 Total
0 0 0 0
2011 Total
0 0 0 0
2007 Rate (b/d)
0 00 0
2008 Rate (b/d)
0 0 0 0
2009 Rate (b/d)
0 0 0 0
2010 Rate (b/d)
0 0 0 0
2011 Rate (b/d) 0 0 0 0
2008 Change (%)
0 0 0 0
2009 Change (%)
0 0 0 0
2010 Change (%)
0 0 0 0
2011 Change (%)
0 0 0 0

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