This is the third Petro Ninja – Enlighten Geoscience Well of the Week in a series describing how resource plays (basin-wide plays in which hydrocarbons are the continuous phase) have often driven development throughout the history of the Canadian oil and gas industry. Links to the previous articles are provided at the bottom of the post.
Resource Play: Mudrock hosted oil (Canol)
Discovery Well UWI: Northwest Discovery No. 1 (along the banks of the Mackenzie River near Norman Wells)
Well Details: https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1320162078672/1583413106462
Drilling/Completion Technology: Pre-Conventional (Cable Tool) / Open Hole
It is, to me, less surprising that the next driver of the western Canadian oil and gas industry after Oil City in Waterton was a resource play than that it was way up in the Northwest Territories at Norman Wells. While I understand that they were prospecting based on oil seeps along the Mackenzie (Deh Cho in Dene) River, the NWT 100 years ago was a very wild and isolated place.
But drill for oil they did. And they found it. The Northwest Discovery No. 1 well struck oil in the Canol. According to the Northern Oil and Gas Directorate (1995): “Northwest Discovery No. 1 flows oil from fractures in the Canol Formation. “Oil comes to surface to black globules … trenches fill with oil .” Oil flowing from a fractured shale. A pressure test at the time indicated the reservoir was about 20% over-pressured. Sounds like a resource play to me. And it launched an industry icon, Imperial Oil. This discovery was one of the first of many feathers in Ted Link’s cap. He might not have thought of it in terms of geomechanics but he definitely understood the importance of fracturing in this resource play.
And what a resource play it is. Terlaky (2017) estimates the Oil in Place to be 145 billion barrels or more, and it is waiting for us to access in the Canol. Modern data captured during a recent spate of exploration illustrates a thick target with excellent reservoir characteristics. And it sits in a mature fairway extending the length of the Central Mackenzie Valley.
The dominant contribution of resource plays in developing our industry is pretty long and we are just getting started.
Next week, a decade on and another start on developing one of our massive resource plays.
Finch, D, 2002. Field Notes: The story of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists. https://cspg.org/common/Uploaded%20files/pdfs/documents/about/background/introandbodylowres.pdf
Hogg, J., 2015. The Canol Oil Shale Play, Central Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories, Canada: Geoscience, Operations and Social License. CSPG Playmakers. https://www.cspg.org/common/Uploaded%20files/pdfs/documents/conference_website/play_maker/presentations/Hogg.pdf
Northern Oil and Gas Directorate; Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1995. Petroleum Exploration in Northern Canada: A Guide to Oil and Gas Exploration and Potential. https://www.rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca/eng/1320162078672/1583413106462
Terlaky, V, 2017. Canol Formaon and Bluefish Member Shale Play Summary, Central Mackenzie Valley. https://www.nwtgeoscience.ca/sites/ntgs/files/resources/playsummary_no.1compressed_23jan2017.pdf