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And Now for Something Completely Different (May 22, 2021 Petro Ninja - Enlighten Geoscience WotW)

CBM. It's definitely not the Montney.

This is the seventh post in a series detailing how Resource Plays (basin-wide plays where hydrocarbons are the continuous phase) have often driven the Canadian oil and gas industry throughout its history. Links to the previous posts are provided at the bottom of this artilce.

Resource Play: Horseshoe Canyon Coal Bed Methane Gas

Type Well: 100/08-11-041-22W4/02

Drilling/Completion Technology: Rotary/Vertical/Hydraulically Fractured

While the Montney play was developing out west, a number of companies were evaluating a very different resource play: Coal Bed Methane (CBM). Their interest was easy to understand given the extent of this play. And although not as glamourous as the Montney, this stratigraphic interval has a gas resource potential of 147 Tcf (Beaton et al., 2002). This endowment represents approximately a third of the gas resource of the Montney's 447 Tcf (Canadian Energy Regulator, 2013) at a much lower cost structure given the shallower depth and less expensive drilling, completion and production methods.

Beaton et al. (2002)

While what would eventually become AEC West developed the Montney play, AEC East was amongst a group of companies evaluating the the potential for "dry" CBM production from the Tertiary and uppermost Cretaceous section of Alberta. Waffle et al. (2010) cite commercial CBM production in Alberta beginning in 2002. This event probably occurred with the recompletion of 100/08-11-041-22W4/02. For 13 years, this well was a steady producer until its abandonment with a cumulative production of just under a quarter bcf of methane.

And the massive development was on. Assisted by engineering enhancements to drilling, completion and field operations, this was a play that could truly be seen as a "manufacturing process" style of operation. The play was also assisted by high gas prices at the turn of the 21st Century. Continued low prices have restricted development in recent years, but will the transition to lower carbon fuel sources and an abundant resource lead to the revitalization of this play?

Regardless of what the future holds for CBM, there was a time when it was a major driver of the industry.


Beaton, A.P., Pana, C., Chen, D., Wynne, D.A. and Langenberg, C.W. (2002): Coalbed methane potential of Upper Cretaceous-Tertiary strata, Alberta Plains; Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, EUB/AGS Earth Sciences Report 2002-06, 85 p.

The Ultimate Potential for Unconventional Petroleum from the Montney Formation of British Columbia and Alberta - Energy Briefing Note (2013). Canada Energy Regulator.

Waffle, C. R., Tisdale, D. L. and MacNeill, Cory A. (2010). The Horseshoe Canyon Coals of Central Alberta — A Dry CBM Play. Search and Discovery Article #80079 (2010).

Previous Posts

The Beginning of Montney Mania (May 8, 2021 Petro Ninja - Enlighten Geoscience WotW)

March 13, 2021 Petro Ninja - Enlighten Geoscience WotW: The Deep Basin Era: 100/10-01-070-10W6/00

February 21, 2021 Petro Ninja - Enlighten Geoscience WotW: 100/04-16-048-08W5/00

February 6, 2021 Petro Ninja - Enlighten Geoscience WotW: Another Oil Resource Play:

January 16, 2021 WotW - Historical Drivers of the WCSB Industry: Introduction:

January 29, 2021 WotW - First Oil Well in Western Canada:


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