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Shale Gas and Oil in Canada; Current Development and Exploration Targets in the North America Context

Lavoie, Denis
Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Quebec City, QC, Canada.

Over the last few years, development of shale gas and oil has significantly changed the energy outlook of North America. From years of slow decline in production volume of conventional resources, the input of unconventional hydrocarbons has positively impacted on the overall energy independence to foreign sources. The development of shale gas and oil in the US has been hectic in the last decade or so, conversely, Canada, given its large reserves of conventional hydrocarbons has been lagging behind. Recent evaluations from Canadian industry and government regulators indicate the potential presence of over 1500 TCF of gas-in-place. Production from Devonian and Triassic shale gas and Devonian-Carboniferous shale oil in western Canada is now rapidly ramping up.

The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) research on source rocks of conventional hydrocarbon systems led to identification of potential shale targets for oil and gas. In eastern Canada, fundamental research and pre-production drilling and completion have identified the Upper Ordovician and Carboniferous shales as the next targets to be developed for their natural gas potential. Lesser known Middle Ordovician and Devonian shales are longer-term potential targets for resource appraisal.

From Ohio in the US to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in eastern Canada, the regional Upper Ordovician Utica Shale has various thermal maturation domains and preliminary results indicate that large areas have oil potential (Ohio and Anticosti Island). Further to the east, Lower Ordovician shales of the Green Point Formation in western Newfoundland are tested for their oil potential.

For decades, fundamental research of the GSC has been concerned with all aspects of conventional hydrocarbon systems; new research projects on the unconventional systems are now being developed in response to the increasing demand of geoscience data. On-going activities range from development of resource-reserves evaluation geoscience approaches for continuous accumulations, evolution of pore space in diverse types of organic matter during burial, methodology for assessing geological integrity of shale cap-rock and new chemostratigraphic approaches for sweet spots identification.

Moreover, in response to societal concerns on groundwater and environmental matters, research on water management issues and the potential for induced seismicity from well completion techniques are in progress.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90155©2012 AAPG International Conference & Exhibition, Singapore, 16-19 September 2012