In early 2018, Oil Search acquired and assumed operatorship over a world-class portfolio of oil leases on the Alaskan North Slope, USA. The leases acquired contain the Nanushuk oil field in the Pikka Unit, one of the largest conventional oil discoveries made in the United States in the last 30 years.
Alaska provides us with significant upside potential. Our leases are in close proximity to existing infrastructure in a well-established, prolific oil producing province and attractive fiscal regime. These assets complement our existing top quartile, high returning PNG gas assets and create a more diversified portfolio, less exposed to single commodity and country risk.
In April 2019, we successfully completed our inaugural North Slope appraisal drilling program within the Pikka Unit. The results increased our confidence in the acreage and supported the Company's decision to double its position across its Alaskan assets, through the exercising of the option with Armstrong Energy in June 2019. In addition, strong results from the two-well appraisal program, combined with data from neighbouring drilling activities, 3D seismic mapping and detailed reservoir modelling, led to a 46% increase in gross 2C contingent oil resources above the acquisition case to 728 million barrels.
In early 2020, having matured the development plan and progressed all necessary environmental and Government permits, Oil Search and its joint venture partner, Repsol, entered the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) phase for the Pikka Unit Development. Significant progress was made in the first season of civil works, which were required to connect the proposed Pikka Unit Development to existing North Slope infrastructure. In April 2020, Oil Search completed its second Alaskan drilling program with discoveries made from both the Mitquq 1 and Stirrup 1 exploration wells, with both wells achieving excellent flow test results. Data acquired from the program is being incorporated into Pikka Unit Development planning, with both discoveries highlighting potential for low-cost tie-backs into the proposed Pikka Unit Development or standalone developments.