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Duchesne, Mathieu J. (Geological Survey of Canada) | Brake, Virginia I. (Geological Survey of Canada) | Hu, Kezhen (Geological Survey of Canada) | Giroux, Bernard (INRS-ETE) | Walker, Emilie (Laval University)
Summary. The development of innovative exploratory drilling systems for Canada's harsh Arctic offshore areas over the past decade and future activity in these areas, including possible production concepts, are discussed. The results can be applied in other Arctic areas of the world, including offshore Alaska. This operating experience will advance drilling technology and serve as a basis for the design of Arctic offshore production and transportation systems. Unique technology has been developed and successfully used in the discovery of major accumulations of hydrocarbons. Continued technological advances are anticipated to have widespread Arctic applications in both exploratory and production operations.
Drilling has been successfully conducted in most of Canada's offshore areas despite the extremely harsh environmental conditions. During the past decade, technology has advanced very significantly particularly in the Beaufort Sea and Canadian Arctic Islands. particularly in the Beaufort Sea and Canadian Arctic Islands. Operating experience gained during the exploratory drilling phase is being used in the conceptual design of production systems. Undoubtedly, there will also be an evolution of technology during the development and production phases as the vast frontier reserves are exploited. Canada's offshore frontier areas typically have high costs and lengthy time spans between discovery and production. These factors present major engineering challenges for the design of safe, cost-effective, and timely exploratory and development systems. Confidence in the reservoir extent and predicted performance may permit large-scale development projects, while performance may permit large-scale development projects, while uncertainties may result in a phased approach where possible. The latter is attractive because earlier revenue is generated. Giant discoveries in the Beaufort Sea may not be essential to trigger development and a transportation system, because a combination of several pools may justify limited tankers or a small-diameter pipeline. Similarly, in such areas as the Grand Banks, phased pipeline. Similarly, in such areas as the Grand Banks, phased development with floating production platforms may be feasible. Artificial islands, first started in 1972, are still being constructed but with improved designs and equipment. A step forward has been the use of subsea berms on which concrete or steel segmented caissons have been placed. Integrated-type steel caissons have also been adapted for placement on subsea berms. One is one-half of a crude oil tanker and a second is a purpose-built steel caisson first used in 1984. Four drillships were converted and/or strengthened for Arctic service in the Beaufort Sea, and three have drilled since 1976. The second-generation floating vessel for the area is the Kulluk conical drilling unit, which began drilling in 1983 and has extended the operating season. In the Canadian Arctic Islands, drilling off artificially thickened ice in water depths exceeding 1,200 ft [365 ml has proceeded successfully since it began in 1973. On Canada's east coast, use of dynamically positioned vessels and iceberg towing have permitted seasonal drilling in positioned vessels and iceberg towing have permitted seasonal drilling in ice-infested waters. Production of oil from Hibernia and gas from Venture will be possible early in the next decade. Production of oil from the possible early in the next decade. Production of oil from the Beaufort Sea is also possible in the early 1990's and from the Canadian Arctic Islands in about the mid-1990's. Systems for such production will be discussed. production will be discussed. The focus will continue to be on exploratory drilling and delineation drilling for several years in most areas. Conceptual and preliminary engineering design for development will accelerate as new discoveries are made and others delineated. Wildcat exploratory drilling will also continue to satisfy exploration agreements and will tap the vast potential reserves of Canada's offshore areas.
The hydrocarbon potential of Canada's offshore frontiers has been recognized for several decades. Permits to explore for oil and natural gas were granted in several areas during the 1960's, when offshore drilling began on the east coast. Drilling in the Mackenzie delta and Canadian Arctic Islands (Fig. 1) in the 1960's was a forerunner to drilling offshore in those regions in the early 1970's. Encouraging hydrocarbon reservoirs have been discovered in all frontier areas except the west coast and Hudson Bay. The search has been primarily for oil in an effort to achieve self-sufficiency, security of supply, and economic returns. Significant reserves of nonassociated natural gas have also been discovered offshore and may be produced in conjunction with solution gas from offshore oil production and with nearby land-based gas reserves when a transportation system is available and demand and economic conditions warrant such production. Estimates of the potential recoverable oil and gas reserves for the frontier areas have recently been published by the Canadian federal government's Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) and are shown in Table 1.
I would like to begin my address by thanking the Society of Petroleum Engineers for the opportunity to speak to your Annual Conference about Canadian Natural Gas prospects and how they fit into the energy requirements of the North America!! continent over the next 20 years. It seems somehow an appropriate topic since the theme of this conference is "Energy Frontiers". We in Canada are very optimistic about our future energy potential. We are one of the few industrialized countries which has benefited materially from the increase in real energy prices over the past 10 years. There is some truth in the comment that if OPEC had not existed Canada would have had to invent it. The fact of the matter is that Canada is a country which has a very large resource base and has a very exiciting energy future if energy prices are high but we are energy paupers if energy is cheap and abundant.
INNOVATIONS IN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION IN THE HIGH ARCTIC Abstract The depletion of oil and gas reserves in Western Canada has made the rapid development of Canada's frontier areas one of prime importance. For seven years Panarctic has been operating successfully in one of these areas, the Arctic Islands, reaching above the mainland towards the North Pole. By exploring almost all the year round, even in total darkness and in tem- peratures to -60"F, the company is well on its way to discovering gas and oil in marketable quantities. In doing this Panarctic has overcome the harsh en- vironment by pioneering innovative techniques in- cluding the ability to drill from the ocean ice using a conventional land rig. Résumé En raison de l'épuisement des réserves de pétrole et de gaz de l'ouest canadien, la rapide mise en valeur des zones frontalières du Canada est devenue de première importance. La société Panarctic opère depuis sept ans avec succès, dans une de ces régions: les îles arctiques, qui s'étendent du continent au pôle Nord. En explorant durant presque toute l'année, même par obscurité totale et par des températures atteignant -51"C, la société est sur la bonne voie pour découvrir du pétrole et du gaz en quantités commercialisables. En agissant ainsi, Panarctic a dû surmonter les diffi- cultés d'un milieu hostile grâce à des innovations techniques comme la possibilité de forer à travers la banquise au moyen d'une installation de forage classique terrestre. 1.
Seven years ago far sighted oilmen foresaw the decline in reserves of oil and gas in the western Canada sedimentary basin and began serious explora- tion in three new frontier areas (Fig. i). Major multinational oil companies pioneered the exploration work in the first two areas-the Mackenzie Delta and the Beaufort Basin off Canada's northern main- land and the Continental Shelf off the east coast. Work in the third frontier area, the Sverdrup Basin in the Canadian Arctic Islands was spearheaded by Panarctic Oils Ltd, a consortium of 30 oil and mining companies and the Canadian Government. Success in the form of both gas and oil discoveries has been registered in all three areas. In its years of operation Panarctic has accumulated over 80 million gross permit acres and, to the end of 1974, two hundred and fifty million dollars had been spent on these lands with 70 wildcats and 10 delinea- tion wells being drilled. Six prolific shallow gas fields, - by CHARLES R. HETHERINGTON and H. J. STRAIN, Panarctic Oils Ltd, 703-6th Avenue S. W., Calgary, Canada one oil field and several encouraging shows of oil and gas have been discovered (Fig. 2). Proven gas reserves in the Arctic Islands are estimated at 12 trillion cubic feet, about half the threshold reserve required to permit economic marketing. Estimates, by various authorities, of undiscovered reserves in the Arctic Islands vary between 90 and 200 trillion cubi
In the remote Canadian Arctic, exploration for oil and gas is costing $300 to $400 million a year. Thus far, the most significant discoveries have been of natural gas. Examined here are the costs and potential results of exploring in the area and the wellhead prices required to justify the efforts. The wellhead prices are translated into prices in the markets that would logically receive such gas.
The existence of petroleum in Canada's North has been known since 1798, when Alexander Mackenzie recorded the presence of oil seeps along the banks of the great river that bears his name, near the present site of Norman Wells. About the turn of the century, other explorers recorded the discovery of oil and gas seepages along the north shore of Great Slave Lake, and near Fort Good Hope, down-river from Fort Norman. In 1920, a subsidiary of Imperial Oil Ltd. drilled the discovery well of the Norman Wells oil field and Canada's North became, in fact, an oil-producing region. Except for a flurry of development and production in the early 1940's, brought about by the unique demands of World War II, exploration activity in the North remained at a low ebb until recent years. The harsh climate, remoteness, lack of communications, high costs, and attractions of risk capital to more amenable regions resulted in a long period during which only limited exploration activity was conducted. Forecasts of supply and demand for Canadian oil and gas demonstrate that substantial new reserves must be developed during the next 10 to 20 years to satisfy the needs of our expanding domestic markets and the requirements for exports to the U. S. As a result, exploration is expanding into the frontier regions and a large exploratory play is now in progress in Canada's Arctic region. Major gas discoveries have been made in two widely separated Arctic areas (Fig. 1). The more southerly region is in the Mackenzie Delta on the Arctic mainland, some 325 miles east of the Alaska North Slope discoveries at Prudhoe Bay. The other Arctic discoveries have been made in the Sverdrup basin in the central part of the Canadian Arctic Islands. Since the principal discoveries to date have been of natural gas, the following analysis examines the cost and potential results of this exploration in terms of wellhead prices required to justify the efforts being made.
Mackenzie Delta - Geology and Potential
The Mackenzie Delta portion of the Beaufort basin (Fig. 2) is a geographical and structural entity delineated by the Richardson Mountains and the Aklavik Range on the west and the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula - Caribou Hills escarpment to the east, Peninsula - Caribou Hills escarpment to the east, both lineaments converging to an apex in the Point Separation area. The Mackenzie Delta is comparable in many respects with the U. S. Gulf Coast and the West African Niger Basins, and consists of a thick succession of Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary rocks developed upon the northern continental margin of North America. The sequence overlies older Paleozoic sedimentary rocks that within the basin are Paleozoic sedimentary rocks that within the basin are deeply buried but at the southern margin are exposed within a complex structural element, the Aklavik Arch (Fig. 3).