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Well of the Week You need the right shovel to find the pony.

The final Petro NinjaEnlighten Geoscience Well of the Week in the series on the 5 different styles of Foothills plays brings to mind the story of the optimistic child who just knew there was a pony in the big pile of horse manure. Well, the fifth Foothills play type is referred to by Newson (2001) as the “Reef Play”; a primarily stratigraphic play chasing Devonian bioherms in either the footwall or hangingwall of a thrust. This play is a tough nut to crack but successful wells have high productive potential. As Newson put it: “The Devonian Reef play in the Central Alberta Foothills is exciting. The technical challenge of directly imaging it is one that has yet to be overcome”. Hence the pony reference.

Figure 1. The 5 Foothills play types, Newson (2001).

In 2004, Shell announced that they had made a major discovery in the Leduc at 100/02-06-037-10W5/00. This well, in Tay River, Alberta was made possible by creating a better shovel in the form of advanced in-house seismic interpretation techniques. By figuratively digging to a depth of 5,100m they were rewarded for their innovative practices with a pony in the guise of 149 metres of gas pay and an estimated deliverability of 30 mmcf/d.

A colleague formerly of Shell reminded me of the Limestone Mountain pool in which a reef was carried on the Brazeau sheet and other autochthonous Leduc tests along the Foothills. Maybe these leads can be followed up on with expanded exploration.

Tay River might not have lived up to the initial excitement it generated but this “technical success” demonstrates, once again, the value of investing in geoscience to find new opportunities.



Newson, A. C., 2001. The future of natural gas exploration in the Foothills of the Western Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Leading Edge. v. 20, no. 1.


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