The Western Canada Sedimentary basin, which is rapidly aging in Alberta, has a youthful, vigorous component
Although “relatively immature,” northeastern British Columbia, where drilling has been conducted at breakneck pace over recent years, has more natural gas reserves than earlier thought, according to a new joint market assessment by the National Energy Board and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.
The findings, released March 31, said the ultimate potential for conventional gas in the region has climbed about 2 percent since the previous estimate in 1994 to 51.9 trillion cubic feet — close to 25 percent of the basin’s ultimate remaining resources — compared with about 122 tcf in Alberta.
That gain is enough to cover current output of about 950 billion cubic feet per year. The data, effective Dec. 31, 2003, is science-based and more exhaustive than any previously compiled.
Most B.C. plays about 80% undrilled
The study said that although the estimate of the conventional resource grew by only 1 tcf, the volume of discovered resources shot up 25 percent to 27 tcf, with discoveries at Maxhamish Lake, Ladyfern and Greater Sierra accounting for the bulk of the increase.
The report said most plays in British Columbia are about 80 percent undrilled based on geographical distribution.
It identified 83 plays, 19 of them rated conceptual.
No reserves were assigned to the province’s vast unconventional resources such as coalbed methane, shale gas and methane hydrates.
The findings said 60 percent of the discovered resources are sour gas, but only 30 percent of undiscovered resources are believed to contain sulfur, opening the way for high drilling activity for years to come.
Ultimate potential is described as an estimate of the total conventional gas in the region, including the 17 tcf and produced to date.
Hope to lure more U.S.-based companiesThe additional resources that could be drawn on in the future are located in northwest and interior basins, such as Nechako and Bowser, along with southeastern and offshore B.C. — all areas where the B.C. government is encouraging research and development.
Energy Minister Richard Neufeld said the report will promote “further international interest and investment” in a province that now supplies 15 percent of all Canadian gas production.
The government hopes the analysis will entice more U.S.-based companies who are eager to pursue fresh gas prospects.
Release of the findings follows a report by Geoscience BC, established by the government last year with C$25 million in grant money, urging companies to probe the oil and gas potential of the Nechako basin, which is estimated to hold 5 billion barrels of oil and 9.5 tcf of gas (Bowser is rated at 2.5 billion barrels of oil and 8.3 tcf of gas).
Geoscience BC is seeking new technology that will help companies explore a challenging region that is restrained by a complex geology, isolation and limited data.
Lyn Anglin, president and chief executive officer of the organization, said she hopes Geoscience BC can supply enough preliminary research to encourage full-scale exploration.