Saskatchewan reports growing energy momentum

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

REGINA, SASK., July 22 -- Saskatchewan offers a wealth of oil and natural gas assets, and officials believe the province’s resource potential will continue to grow through anticipated technological innovations.

Of the Canadian provinces, Saskatchewn is Canada’s second-largest oil producer and third-largest natural gas producer.

One promising play under production is Saskatchewan’s portion of the Bakken oil play. Saskatchewan’s Bakken oil production reached 57,000 b/d in December 2008 compared with 950 b/d in October 2004.

Ed Dancsok, assistant deputy minister of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources, attributes escalating production figures to advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The province has not yet established a Bakken reserve estimate.

In 2008, Saskatchewan reported 4,045 oil and gas wells were drilled, making it the province’s second-best year in terms of total wells drilled. In 2007, officials reported 3,451 wells were drilled.

Initial oil in place for conventional crude reserves across the province is estimated at 41.2 billion bbl. Currently, more than 35.5 billion bbl remain beyond reach, but Danscok said intensive research efforts are under way to find ways to economically unlock that oil.

Latest estimates put Saskatchewan’s remaining recoverable reserves of conventional crude oil at 1.18 billion bbl. This includes 611 million bbl of heavy oil, with the rest being medium and light crude.

These figures do not include oil sands or oil shale, and the province is working toward developing its unconventional crude oil. Saskatchewan has a 2.7 million hectare area with some degree of oil sands potential.

Dancsok said enhanced oil recovery holds great potential for Saskatchewan’s conventional reserves. Current EOR projects include both steam and carbon dioxide injection. Researchers are studying vaporized solvent injection methods for heavy oil.

EOR production levels increased steadily from 2,735 b/d in 1982 to 50,788 b/d in 2008. Canada’s largest CO2 project is the Weyburn project operated by EnCana Oil & Gas Partnership. In 2005, Apache Canada began CO2 injection in Midale field.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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