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The technology that unlocked the massive shale gas prize — horizontal drilling and multistage fracturing — has hardly skipped a beat as it jumps to a new host in emerging tight oil and liquids-rich plays as well as “vintage” oil plays across the North American continent, including the Bakken and the Viking of Saskatchewan and the Cardium of Alberta.
The move by industry to horizontal well exploitation of Western Canada’s less permeable reservoirs using multistage fracturing is picking up speed in 2011 after setting new records last year.
In 2010, a little more than 5,000 of the wells drilled across the four western provinces were horizontal holes, or about 42% of all wells drilled (excluding oil sands evaluation wells), setting a new record.
Industry licensed 2,433 horizontal wells during the first three months of 2011, up 69% from the first quarter a year ago, setting the stage for another record year for horizontal holes. Excluding oil sands evaluation and experimental well licences, the 2,433 horizontal licences represented about 55% of all wells approved for drilling.