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Slim-hole drilling: the choice of Squatex

Resources and Energy Squatex inc. (Squatex) has always sought to innovate and use Quebec know-how to carry out his projects. During its first exploratory drilling in the Lower St. Lawrence, Squatex used mining drills. Indeed, the goal was to collect rock samples less than 200m deep, what is more simply called stratigraphic drilling. Squatex therefore wondered if these boreholes could not be better exploited. Indeed, Quebec is recognized worldwide for these mining drills and the quality of its workers. Why not use this expertise for the oil field?

After several researches on the various methods, it turned out that that of the slim-hole drilling was already used all over the world by big oil groups, by using smaller platforms oil. What is called small diameter drilling is all drilling with rods less than 8″ in diameter. With this technique, it became possible to use mining drills usually drilling in 3po 1/2 for oil drilling in Quebec.

Use of Slim-hole drilling

The first test we conducted in the field with this method was done in 2012 with the drilling of Massé No. 1 in the municipality of Ste-Jeanne d’Arc. At that time, the Hydrocarbons law did not exist, and oil and gas exploration companies depended on the Mining law. It should be understood here that a stratigraphic drilling in the eyes of the law did not need a permit, or even safety systems present on oil drills. As we planned to drill more than 1500m deep, we then forced the contractors to equip the drill with the same standards as the oil drills, ie Blow Out Preventers (or BOP) which are safety valves.

At the end of this drilling, in the summer of 2013, we made a further improvement, namely the use of closed water circulation. This improvement was intended to better control what comes in and out of the well. As a result of Massé No. 1, we also had the BOPS improved, because the overpressure during this drilling, showed us that only hydraulic valves would not be sufficient in case of greater pressure and so we also raised mechanical BOPS. At this point, we had a mining drill with all the equipment needed to ensure the safety of the workers, as well as where we work. It should be noted that no incidents occurred during the drilling and that all the delicate situations were well managed by the Squatex team.

Obviously, at that moment, we could collect drill cores, but since in the oil world it is more the so-called indirect methods that are used, for example what are called the “e-logs” or logging, we decided to also use these methods, in 2014 during the drilling of Massé No. 2. Indeed, we made logs on our small diameter drill. This approach allowed us to discover the potential of the Massé structure.

Benefits of Slim-hole drilling

Why do we find that Slim-hole drillingis part of the solution for a responsible exploration of oil and natural gas in Quebec?

First, it saves money: for the same price as a conventional oil drilling, we have 2 to 3 slim-hole drill holes and therefore the possibility of well delineating the reservoir.

Then a small diameter borehole has a reduced environmental footprint. It should be known that an oil drilling represents a zone with the grounds of 120m on 120m for the drill and other installations, that is to say 14 400m2 of total surface. A slim-hole drill is 40m by 40m, or 1600m2, which is 9 times less ground than conventional drilling. This reduced footprint also results in a reduction of all the aspects conducive to causing nuisance to the community (noise, coming and going of trucks, etc.), even the amount of water used is less.

Ultimately, slim-hole drilling is a safe, economically beneficial, and more environmentally friendly option than the more traditional methods of oil drilling. Finally, they mobilize the heritage of a know-how from home, which has something to make us proud.

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