TGS announces new seismic survey on Canadian shale oilfield

12 June 2018 3 min. read
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Norwegian geophysical consulting firm TGS has commenced a new onshore seismic project on the Montney shale oilfield in BC and Alberta. The industry-funded, multi-client geophysical survey will cover about 274 sq km.

Shale oil already accounts for 8% of total Canadian oil output, and figures to take an increasingly larger share as the popularity of oil sands projects declines. With recent advances in technology (hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’), shale oil and gas extraction is cheaper, faster, and less carbon intensive than extraction from oil sands.

The oil price crash in 2014 caused the scrapping of many expensive oil sands projects, which can only break even at a barrel price of $44. While oil sands capital spending fell in 2017 for the third consecutive year, other oil and gas investments – including shale – rose 40% to $31 billion. The technologically-driven access to shale oil reserves means that the era of oil sands mega projects is likely over.

TGS announces new seismic survey on Canadian shale oilfield

Canada’s Duvernay and Montney shale formations in Northern BC and Alberta together hold marketable reserves of about 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, and 4.5 billion barrels of oil, according to Canada’s National Energy Board. The Montney formation is estimated to hold about half of the recoverable resources of Alberta’s oil sands region.

Today, Canada’s shale output stands at 335,000 barrels per day (bpd) according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, but is forecasted to grow to 420,000 bpd in ten years. Energy players Seven Generations, Encana, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips are among the producers developing the two formations.

Now, in a climate of rebounding oil and gas prices, Norwegian geophysical consulting firm TGS has commenced an onshore seismic survey on 274 sq km of the Montney shale formation in British Columbia. The announced Dawson Phase II 3D survey expands on the firm’s Dawson Phase I project located to the west. The project is the consultancy’s seventh onshore seismic survey in Canada.Dawson Phase II mapThe industry-funded, multi-client survey will utilize cutting edge land imaging technology in order to process ‘high fold vibroseis’ data. This will allow producers to comply with recent regulations that require mapping faults for pre-assessing possible fracking-induced seismicity hazards. Preliminary data will be available in the first quarter of 2019, with final data available in the third quarter of 2019.

"TGS continues to strengthen its onshore position with new seismic investments in prolific and high potential onshore plays across North America,” remarked TGS CEO Kristian Johansen. “Dawson Phase II further expands upon adjacent TGS seismic data in the Montney Formation of Alberta and British Columbia, an area long targeted for oil and gas exploration.”

“Our growing onshore seismic library, combined with our vast database of well data and interpretive products, uniquely positions TGS to help our customers develop the best data driven subsurface models and provide significant benefits to their exploration and production efforts,” Johansen concluded.

TGS is the world’s largest geoscience data company, providing services like the aforementioned seismic surveys to help energy firms determine the location and size of oil and gas reserves. Headquartered in Asker, Norway, the firm also has main offices located in Calgary, Houston, London, and Perth. TGS has a market capitalization of about US$2.3 billion.

In other TGS news, the firm announced that it will allocate a second vessel – the Ramform Sterling – to acquire a minimum 2,700 sq km of 3D seismic data off the coast of Newfoundland. In partnership with Petroleum Geo-Services, this is the eighth year of data acquisition for the geo data firms offshore of Eastern Canada. At the conclusion of the industry-funded project, their joint library will hold more than 40,000 sq km of offshore 3D data.