As more conventional oil and natural gas is developed, more wells are required to improve recovery. This has been the trend in Alberta and across North America, and it continues with unconventional oil and natural gas.
In established areas, new unconventional oil and natural gas development might be able to use existing infrastructure to reduce surface impacts. Good land-use practices, such as drilling multiple wells from a single surface location, or “pad,” means fewer pads containing more wells (see diagram below for more information.)
The alignment of roads or pipelines along corridors can also reduce surface disturbance.
The AER is reviewing ways to encourage companies to work together on certain aspects of projects to avoid unnecessary duplication of surface infrastructure.
DOES THIS DEVELOPMENT MEAN INCREASED ACTIVITY LEVELS?
Unconventional oil and natural gas development will occur in many instances by drilling multiple horizontal wells from a single surface location. After drilling, these wells will often be stimulated by hydraulic fracturing, which can involve round-the-clock operations for extended periods of time with increased truck traffic, dust, noise, and industrial lighting. Some aspects of this activity can be managed to reduce the impact on the local area. The AER has comprehensive requirements related to noise. For concerns such as increased truck traffic, the AER will work with counties and municipalities by providing information about potential developments to support their preparation for increasing activity.
Reduced Surface Footprint
As seen in the diagrams below, conventional drilling methods require many wells to obtain the same amount of oil or natural gas as multistage horizontal wells, which reduce the surface impact and improve efficiency.
Conventional well spacing
Multistage horizontal wells