Integrated Assessment of Water Resources for Unconventional Oil and Gas Plays, West-Central Alberta, Canada
The Integrated Assessment of Water Resources Project (IAWR) characterizes surface and subsurface water resources across broad unconventional oil and gas play fairways in west-central Alberta, and provides a basis for future, more detailed characterization projects addressing specific unconventional developments. Technical work is being performed by independent consulting groups, while project governance and financial support is provided by a consortium of oil and gas producers under the umbrellas of PTAC (Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada) and CAPP (Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers). Several shale and tight sandstone and carbonate reservoirs are now being developed in the heart of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin using horizontal wells and multifrac completions. Devonian Swan Hills carbonates and Duvernay shales, Triassic Montney siltstones, and Cretaceous Cardium sandstones are the best-known and most widespread plays. While drilling and completions methodologies vary by play and are still being optimized in many cases, there is a clear need for large source water volumes and secure water disposal zones to support these operations. A revised regulatory framework being put into place by the Alberta Energy Regulator demands that operators plan their development operations, including water sourcing and disposal, on a play-wide basis, and in collaboration with other operators where possible. It is important, therefore, that operators have regional knowledge of water resources, and the ability to interact readily with nearby competitors. In response to these needs, the IAWR Project has been designed to assess water resources at surface, in surficial sediments and shallow non-saline aquifers, and in deep saline aquifers. Initial work focused on data collection, cataloguing, and display in an integrated GIS-driven website. As the project reaches completion, more detailed modeling and analytical / predictive work is being completed. Collaboration with the Regulator ensures that Project work can be used directly in regulatory applications. Ultimately, Project results will be made public so that all concerned stakeholders can gain a common understanding of the best technical solutions for use of both non-saline and saline water resources. The IAWR Project is an excellent example of the collaborative work that the industry needs to undertake in order to demonstrate environmental sensitivity in developing unconventional resources.
AAPG Datapages/Search and Discovery Article #90189 © 2014 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Houston, Texas, USA, April 6–9, 2014