British Columbia (B.C.) has seen near-exponential growth in the areas of the
Horn River and Montney unconventional shale-gas plays situated in northeastern
B.C. (Fig. 1). The original-gas-in-place volume for the Montney and Horn River
basins has not been formally calculated, but it has been estimated at greater
than 500 Tcf and continues to be revised upwardly as new and more-refined
information is obtained and development takes place. The Cordova embayment and
Liard basin, east and west (respectively) of the Horn River basin, are at early
stages of assessment but promise additional massive gas-in-place values.
Approximately 5 years ago, industry experts were predicting a dramatic
reduction in viable gas production from the western Canada sedimentary basin,
and from North America in general. Market predictions were favouring investment
in import terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG), in which gas from offshore
suppliers could be imported and moved through the North American transportation
grid to market. Regulators were anticipating an influx of LNG-facility
applications and myriad infrastructure modifications to handle the resulting
new flow regime.
In 5 short years, this dire future has been reversed completely because of
the advent of economically viable methods to access gas trapped in shales and
similar tight formations. At the current rates of production and exploration,
there are more than 20 years of gas reserves in B.C., reversing a previous
decline, as shown in Fig. 2.
B.C. is ideally positioned to provide gas to North America with ready access
to a number of major gas-transportation pipelines, including systems operated
by TransCanada Pipelines, Spectra Energy Gas Transmission, and the Alliance
Pipeline. Many of these systems are undergoing significant capacity expansions
to accommodate the influx of gas from these new plays.
This paper will explore the challenges posed to regulators in rapidly moving
from conventional vertical-well developments to unconventional multiwell pads
consisting of multiple fracture-stimulated horizontal wells.
© 2011. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- Original manuscript received:
28 October 2010
- Meeting paper published:
20 October 2010
- Revised manuscript received:
8 December 2010
- Manuscript approved:
9 December 2010
- Version of record:
1 November 2011