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Market Snapshot: Technological advancements significantly increase peak production in Viking oil wells

Release date: 2018-04-25

Peak production rates of Viking Formation oil wells are ten times higher than they were ten years ago.

The Viking Formation is a geological formation that was deposited across large areas of western Canada about 100 million years ago. It has produced conventional shallow gas for 100 years and conventional oil since the 1940s. After 2009, the Viking Formation was almost exclusively developed with horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing. This newer technology targets Viking tight oil in southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan (see map below). Tight oil production from the Viking Formation was about 80 000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2017, roughly 10% of total Canadian light crude oil production, and continues to grow despite low oil prices.

Source and Description

Source: IHS-Performance Evaluator, with permission

Description: This map shows conventional versus tight wells drilled in the shallow Viking from 2001 to 2017 in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The graph below shows the monthly production of Viking oil wells from southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan for their first 50 months of operation. Each line shows an average of the wells drilled each year from 2001 to 2017. Peak production from wells drilled from 2001 to 2009 averaged about 4 b/d. Meanwhile, peak production from wells drilled between 2009 and 2017 increased every year with wells peaking in 2017 at 59 b/d after 2 months.

Source and Description

Source: IHS-Performance Evaluator, with permission

Description: This line chart illustrates the average production of Viking Formation wells grouped by year of initial production from 2001 to 2017. Up to 2009, peak production rates averaged 3.9 b/d. Peak production rates in the Viking tripled from 9.3 b/d in 2009 to 27.3 b/d in 2010. Peak production rates continued to climb, reaching 58.6 b/d in 2017. Average production drops off to about 9 b/d after 24 months and declines at similar rates over the life of the well.

Fracturing a formation in more places in a well can increase well production. The average number of fracture stages in Viking wells has increased from 2009 to 2017 and, over this period, peak production has increased every year. However, production falls to about the same rates after two years, suggesting better technology improves production more in the short term than in the long term.

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