Pembina, with an estimated 7.8 billion barrels of original oil in place, is Canada’s largest conventional onshore oilfield. Despite extensive secondary recovery through waterfloods, less than 1.4 billion barrels has been produced. The scale of the remaining prize continues to draw plenty of interest
Both the Bakken and the Cardium are “tight” or “unconventional” plays, where the oil is hosted in a rock, as opposed to a more porous, and usual sand formation.
They were well known but uneconomic zones until a few years ago, when advancements in horizontal drilling and fracing technologies allowed them to be exploited. The Bakken is ranked by most Canadian analysts as the most profitable oil play in the country now, with Cardium as #2.
With the Cardium in particular, there is very little geological risk. It has been drilled through thousands of times to get to the oil in the more porous, productive zone below it. The market loves these low risk plays that are very “repeatable” – each new well is likely to produce just as the one before it.
Thirdly, these new technologies are continually improving the economics in these formations. Four years later, companies are still increasing production from Bakken wells, and increasing the overall amount of oil recovered from the formations. The Cardium is a younger play, only a year old, and as management teams tweak the way they drill and frac these wells, it may one day get even closer to Bakken economics.
The Viking oil play in Southwest Saskatchewan stands at approximately 6 billion barrels, implying that the play is second only to the Cardium in OOIP among non-oil sands resources. Similar to the Cardium, the Viking is a legacy oil pool that has been developed since the 1950s with older technology, and that now stands to be rejuvenated by virtue of advancements in horizontal multi-stage fraccing techniques.
Mid-Continent shale may have as much as 500 billion barrels of oil. Bakken Shale oil production alone may reach 500,000 barrels per day in 2011. The Three Forks is rumored to contain just as much oil as the Bakken.