AAPG Middle East Region, Shale Gas Evolution Symposium

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Geological Controls on the Prospectiviy and Productivity of Unconventional Resources – Learnings from the Montney Play of Western Canada


The Montney Formation is a fine-grained depositional system of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, that holds one of the world-largest unconventional resource, with an estimated 4,200 Tcf of gas and 260 Bbbl of liquids originally in place. After nearly 60 years of conventional exploration and production, over 12 years of unconventional development and with more than 6,000 horizontal wells drilled, the Montney resource play is also one of the most documented unconventional hybrid system, thanks to the huge amount of well data publicly available in Canada. Integrating this data from the basin to the field scale provides a unique opportunity to better understand the geological controls on the prospectivity and productivity of unconventional plays. This analysis demonstrates that despite their fine-grained nature and apparent homogeneity, these plays are highly complex and dynamic systems where fluid and rock property variations are controlled by the stratigraphic and structural frameworks. These geological discontinuities resulted from the depositional and burial history of these deposits and understanding the processes at work provides a powerful tool to better predict reservoir and fluid distributions in these plays. Although perfect analogs do not exist, unconventional plays with a long history of production and associated large dataset such as the Montney, can offer invaluable concepts and models to guide early exploration and development efforts in new resource plays around the world. This presentation will provide an overview of some of the major learnings from the Montney resource play, from a geoscience perspective.