Beaufort Mackenzie Basin's current exploration renaissance is being
driven by a North American continental energy strategy focusing
on natural gas.
and Canadian E&P firms are banking on the fact that the $C 7.7
billion, Mackenzie Valley pipeline — extending 1,200-kilometers
from the Beaufort Sea to northern Alberta — will be onstream by
2009. The pipeline will enable operators to monetize 12 Tcf of stranded
gas and 1.5 to two billion barrels of recoverable oil discovered
during the late 1970s to mid 1980s.
the heyday of northern exploration, some 250 wells were drilled
in the BMB, resulting in 53 significant discoveries. Included among
these significant discoveries are world class fields like Amauligak
(1.35 Tcf marketable gas and 235 million barrels of recoverable
oil) and Taglu (2 Tcf of marketable gas).
to the Geological Survey of Canada, an additional 53 Tcf of natural
gas and 5.4 billion barrels of oil are waiting to be discovered
in the BMB.
the E&P industry has:
- Acquired more than 20 new exploration licenses from the federal
government, totaling more than three million acres. The bidding
process for "Crown" lands is a public one — the biggest work
commitment dollars (seismic and drilling) secures the license.
- Acquired 15 3-D seismic surveys, including a marine 3-D in the
shallow Beaufort Sea.
- Acquired several thousand kilometers of 2-D seismic data.
- Reprocessed its extensive historical in-house grids of 2-D seismic
data, using modern processing methods, including pre-stack time
and depth migration.
this newest exploration phase, nine wells have been drilled in the
Mackenzie Delta (onshore), resulting in a minimum of two publicized
natural gas discoveries.
the Devon-operated Tuk M-18 well flowed at a restricted rate of
30 MMcf per day from the Cretaceous age Kamik Formation. Devon and
its partner, Petro-Canada, publicly stated that the well is capable
of an estimated sustained deliverability of up to 80 MMcf per day.
Tuk M-18 encountered an estimated 200 to 300 Bcf of natural gas
the well as the first significant onshore drilling success in the
Mackenzie Delta since 1975.
by success, the company is systematically marching northward with
its exploration program. Devon plans to drill its first offshore
well in the Beaufort Sea during the winter of 2005-06. While the
offshore well is still two years distant, timelines in the North
are protracted due to logistics and regulatory approvals (including
environmental and aboriginal).
geologist Chris Bergquist describes a huge stratigraphic structure
that his company has identified with its newly-acquired, 1,800 square
kilometer 3-D marine seismic program — the structure boasts impressive
AVO anomalies in Tertiary age sediments that ring a shale diapir
flank play is located updip from a structure that Berquist describes
as "a pimple on the side of a huge feature."
The "pimple" was tested by the Minuk I-53 well, which flowed a combined 27.4
MMcf/d from two zones in the Oligocene age Kugmallit Formation and
26 MMcfd/d from a conglomeratic zone in the Eocene age Taglu Formation.
Bergquist's previous interpretation of this structure — based on
a 2-D seismic grid — was that of a tightly folded anticline.
to Peter Graham (also with Devon) and Bergquist, historical success
rates of Cretaceous plays onshore are about 5 percent. Onshore and
offshore , Tertiary age plays have averaged a whopping 50 percent
in historical success rates.
onshore wells in the Mackenzie Delta average about $C 20 to 25 million
to drill. The company's proposed offshore well, however, could cost
as much as $C 65 million.
a pipeline, it's difficult to justify putting a lot of money into
something that's going to sit there for 30 years, as some discoveries
have," Bergquist said. "But we believe that we see the light at
the end of the tunnel."
hurdles must be cleared, however, before Canada's Arctic gas reaches
southern markets. These include:
- Regulatory approvals.
- Securing shipping commitments from producers.
- Resolution of a lawsuit filed by the Deh Cho First Nation, an
aboriginal group residing in the southern Northwest Territories.