Shell outlines drilling plans

By Brooke Ward – The Northern View

Published: July 08, 2008 11:00 PM

Responding to a community desire for more information and answers to questions about the proposed development, Shell Canada representatives filled the Eagle Room at the Civic Centre on July 3 and 4 with a series of panels pertaining to coalbed gas, how it is produced and what the company intends to do in the Klappan. Several others also outlined the company’s commitment to sustainable development, environmental protection and cultural preservation.

Prepared in such a way that it almost seemed a rebuttal to previous presentations by opposition groups, the presentation was nonetheless informative, addressing key issues while setting the record clear on where exactly the company is on the time line of development.

“We are currently in the early stages of exploration,” said Kathy Penney, Shell’s manager of the Klappan project.

“In 2004 we drilled three wells and from that we know that there’s a lot of coal there. We also know that there is a lot of gas in the coal and we need to figure out if we can actually get it to flow in a commercially viable way,” she continued, explaining the ideal progression into an intermediary stage, called the pilot, during which time the company would drill another several wells.

“The entire project could stop at any time during the exploration or pilot stages if the results of our tests show that commercial production of natural gas is not likely. And even if all of our tests during the exploration and pilot stages have positive results, we would not be in a position to start development activities for a number of years,” said Penney, putting the earliest date for production around 2017.

Intending to prevent any methane migration or seepage by lining wells with cement and steel piping, the company is also involved in a number of environmental studies, says Penney, adding that there are many assessments Shell will have to pass before getting to the development stage.

For now, Shell will be trucking any produced water to Fort St. John for treatment to avoid issues regarding re-injection in this area, but Penney said flaring will most likely not be able to be avoided.

“We want to minimize our footprint and we’re absolutely looking for ways to minimize flaring…No one wants to give away a good resource. But when you’re at an exploration stage and you don’t have a pipeline to tie into, you’re going to have to flare because the gas has to go somewhere.”

This summer Shell intends to re-enter two of the previously drilled wells and reclaim the third one, with a further six wells slated to be drilled in the fall.

“We figure it would be about a three month program…We’d be out in January,” said Penney.

Penney says that further public consultation and community meetings are planned for later in the fall or the new year.