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Calgary, Alberta (Dec 13, 2011)… The Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) has issued , which concludes that 691 natural gas wells in the Athabasca Oil Sands Area present a significant risk to future in situ bitumen recovery and must be shut in. The gas wells to be shut in are located approximately 100 km north west of Fort McMurray.
Gas production from these wells may put bitumen recovery at risk. The geological formations in question contain natural gas that is in contact with potentially recoverable bitumen. When this gas is extracted, there is a drop in pressure that may impact bitumen recovery operations that employ extraction methods like steam-assisted gravity drainage.
The ERCB’s decision was prompted by applications and submissions from Sunshine Oilsands Ltd, Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. and Total E&P Canada Ltd. for the shut in of gas production from certain wells. Most of the affected gas wells are licensed to Canadian Natural Resources Limited and Perpetual Energy Operating Corp.
This decision is the result of a public process that included two written, interim hearings, held from 2009 to 2011. A final hearing was to be scheduled, however, based on the information that was filed in the interim hearings and with the advice of the hearing participants that no final hearing was required, the ERCB concluded that it had sufficient information to make a final decision.
For the two interim decisions, the ERCB had previously estimated that production of the shut-in natural gas was 1.3 million cubic metres per day (46 million cubic feet per day) in total. The ERCB is satisfied that these estimates remain accurate in the context of Decision 2011-035.
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For more information, please contact:Bob Curran, ERCB Communications