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Press Release

What is Squatex’s particular vision of hydrocarbon development in Quebec?

The management of Squatex firmly believes that it is imperative that the development of hydrocarbons in Quebec be done in accordance with the culture and traditions of Quebec, particularly in terms of consultation and social dialogue.

Indeed, this tradition of concertation, rooted in the history of Quebec, has demonstrated that it allows the establishment of sustainable national goals and substantial plans of government action.

The management of Squatex believes that it is always possible to agree on a plan of exploration and exploitation in Quebec that is reasonable, responsible in the face of the challenge posed by climate change while allowing an enrichment of businesses and the community.

When Jean-Claude Caron founded Squatex in 2001, he had the ambition to build a company that would mobilize the expertise developed in Quebec to enrich his fellow citizens. “I’ve been in the business community for over 30 years. I have always worked to enrich Quebecers, and I believe that the responsible exploitation of our natural resources could allow us to continue to move forward as a separate society, he said. It is to future generations that I think when I pursue the adventure with Squatex. We are able to grow in Quebec and we do not have to be afraid of money! »

In the end, Squatex’s attitude is one of collaboration with the Government and stakeholders, not a confrontation.It is more than time to move towards the exploration and exploitation of our natural hydrocarbon resources and thus be able to control and diminish our environmental impact on the planet. Hopefully we’ll be able to get there before it’s too late.

What are the environmental benefits of exploiting our own hydrocarbons in Quebec?

There would be significant environmental benefits to exploiting our own hydrocarbons in Quebec.

In a blog postpublished in December 2018, Jean-François Thibault, a Director at Squatex, says it is essential to have a lucid and pragmatic approach in order to make a successful energy transition. According to him, “… We will still need hydrocarbons for at least the next 40 or 50 years. Fossil and renewable energies will be met as long as the seconds have not completely replaced the first ones, which will have to be consumed less and less over the years.

We must therefore think of the transition in terms of energy mix, and not in terms of opposition between the different forms of energy.

Once we say that, the question is no longer whether we want to consume less hydrocarbons and invest more in renewable energies. On that, everyone agrees!

The question is more about where the hydrocarbons will come from for the next 40-50 years, because we are going to consume it! Whatever we think. »

If we exploit our own hydrocarbons, “… This would allow us to directly manage — by ourselves — the environmental impacts associated with the production of oil and natural gas that we consume.

The hydrocarbons act adopted by the Government of Quebec is among the most severe in the world.

If we were going to produce our hydrocarbons, it is obvious that it would be done in a much more responsible manner than in other jurisdictions. This means that the global environment would benefit from it.

It should also be noted that the environmental impacts associated with the transportation of oil and natural gas resources would be reduced, since we would produce locally what we consume.

Finally, to continue importing from elsewhere the hydrocarbons that we consume is only to shovel the environmental problem in the neighbour’s yard.

Is this really the way we want to act, as citizens of the world? ” he concludes.

What are the economic benefits of exploiting our own hydrocarbons in Quebec?

There would be many economic benefits to exploiting our own hydrocarbons in Quebec. “Quebec currently imports 100% of the hydrocarbons it consumes. “It therefore sends abroad (in the United States and Algeria, in particular) all the profits related to the production of oil and natural gas”. says Jean-François Thibault, Director of Squatex, in a  blog post published in December 2018.

“It is amazing how we are able to tear our shirt to consume our own milk, but how we are slow to act in terms of consuming our own energy sources.

In one case, we want to “encourage the local workers”, in the other, it is as if this argument was not considered valid.

While consuming oil and natural gas for another 40-50 years, why not take advantage of the benefits of exploiting our own resources?” he concludes.

Importing our hydrocarbons is equivalent to exporting good paying jobs that could allow Quebecers to enrich themselves and support their families, especially in the country. In fact, Squatex is concentrating its efforts to develop its resources in the Lower St. Lawrence and Gaspésie as a priority.Quebecers are aware of these economic benefits. A Léger poll commissioned by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) has recently shown that 53% of Quebecers think it is better to use our own oil resources than to continue importing them.

What is Slim Hole drilling?

In the oil and gas industry, a Slim hole well is a type of oil or gas well whose borehole size is significantly smaller than the usual borehole size. It is generally less than 6 inches in diameter or less.

The concept of small-diameter drilling finds its roots in the observed correlation between the cost of wells and the volume of extracted rock. If you can extract less rock and use less bulky equipment, the costs of the well should decrease.

A first type of small diameter drilling consists of using a conventional oil drill with smaller rods (< 6po instead of 8 or 13in, i.e.). Which is simply to reduce the size of the hole.

A second type can be used to lower costs for exploration drilling to locate the presence of hydrocarbon resources.  It relies in part the technologies used for exploration drilling in the hard rock mining industry.  The mining drilling rig is in that case equipped with all systems for drilling mud recirculation, real-time monitoring and conventional petroleum safety control. The overall equipment having a lesser size, its impact on the ground is less while being able to perform all the tasks required safelyand in the rules of art. The only notable difference is that the rotation of the rod train is faster than for conventional drilling operations for oil wells.

Resources and energy Squatex Inc. has always sought to innovate and use Quebec know-how to carry out its projects. The first tests for the local development of this method were carried out in the field by Squatex in 2012 for the drilling of Sayabec No. 1, near the village of the same name, then in 2014 for the drilling of Massé No. 2 in the municipality of Ste-Jeanne d’Arc.

It should be noted that this type of small-diameter drilling is only suitable for the exploration of conventional reservoirs, and in no way allows the hydraulic fracturing needed for the exploration of shale gas.

Why do we find that small diameter drilling is part of the solution for a responsible exploration of oil and natural gas in Québec?

Firstly, this allows for savings in the exploration phase: For the same price as a conventional oil drilling, 2 to 3 boreholes of small diameter can be carried and therefore we have the possibility to better delimit the reservoir.

Then, a small-diameter hole that can be drilled with an overall equipment that is reduced in size necessarily has a reduced environmental footprint. Know that a conventional oil drilling with all its other installations occupies in the field an area of 120m by 120m (i.e. 14 400m2). A small diameter drilling rig can be positioned inside a 40m by 40m square (1600m2), which represents 9 times less floor space than for the conventional drilling. This reduced footprint also results in a marked decrease in all aspects related to nuisance for the local community (noise, trucking, etc.) and also, even the amount of water used is less.

Ultimately, the use of small-diameter drilling for hydrocarbon exploration is a safe option that is economically beneficial and more environmentally friendly than traditional methods usually used for oil and gas drilling. 

Finally, small-diameter drilling mobilizes part of the legacy of a local know-how, which is what makes us proud.

What is a conventional hydrocarbon deposit?

When we talk about oil and gas in Quebec or elsewhere and especially the possibility of reservoirs, it is not everyone who can easily tell the difference between the types of natural reservoirs rocks. Moreover, in the media, confusion remains and therefore leaves people with a certain apprehension in the face of this unknown. In this blog, we will talk about the so-called conventional hydrocarbons reservoirs rocks.

“For a hydrocarbon deposit to qualify as a conventional oil and gas system, the presence of a source rock, a reservoir rock and a cover rock is necessary. In this system, hydrocarbons migrate from the source rock where they formed to the reservoir rock where they will be stored. The degree of porosity and high permeability of a rock characterizes its ability to be a reservoir rock. Hydrocarbons remain trapped in the reservoir rock through a cover rock (seal) that is characterized by a lower degree of porosity and permeability. (Source: MERN)

The first thing to remember about these conventional reservoirs is that for these, the methods of extraction of their hydrocarbons have been well known for more than 160 years (1859: Titusville, Pennsylvania) and above all they do not require the use of hydraulic fracturing. And as the above definition of MERN says, to be conventional, the reservoir must be porous, permeable and naturally insulated by a impermeable layer preventing a migration of hydrocarbons to the surface (blog # 2: seeps). This implies that, for the production of a conventional reservoir, a simple well will be necessary to extract hydrocarbons at the surface. This method is ultimately very similar to that used to produce drinking water, but at greater depths.

So why talk about conventional reservoirs? 

It is that a reframing of the terms used in the public space is necessary. Indeed, for several years, there has been talk in the public discourse on hydrocarbons thatshale gas.

 However, these are non-conventional resources. In this case, hydrocarbons are trapped in the source rock (Blog # 1) and that to recover them, hydraulic fracturing is the only cost-effective way to create the porosity and permeability that are necessary to enable production.

You have to know that in Quebec there are possibilities of conventional reservoirs (which can be exploited without fracturing). The latter are located mainly in the Gaspé / Lower St. Lawrence in the Devonian and Silurian rocks, but also in the St. Lawrence Lowlands in the limestone formations of Trenton and Black River. (Ordovician).

Do you have any questions about this scientific note? You can contact the Squatex team at any time to answer your questions!

For questions of a scientific nature:

Alexandre Aubiès-T., PhD., Geo.


For media Inquiries:

Jean-François Thibault, ing. jr


What work is done during the exploratory phase?

In order to find natural gas and oil resources, it is necessary to have a good scientific strategy to choose and carry out the good work. The exploratory phase in the field of hydrocarbons corresponds to a maximum risk taking for investors, and one could say minimum for the environment because the presence of the resource is then only assumed. So we will see here how the oil companies spend their money, hoping in the end that their investments are not going to be in vain and that they will find a deposit large enough to be produced economically.

As a first step, the company must obtain from the government, which is the owner of the natural resources, exploration permits over a territory.  The territory is usually selected according to geological assumptions that are based on existing studies or by similarity with producing regions. An exploration permit gives the company the right to search for hydrocarbons only.  It does not allow to produce them. The MERN calls them “Research Permits”.

On the MERN web site, we find a very good summary of what needs to be done by the companies in order to hope to find the resource and, if they find it, how to apply for a production license: “Based on the geological knowledge and the Hydrocarbons potential of a given territory, geological or geophysical studies can be conducted and drilling work carried out. Geological work includes the field examination of rock outcrops, litho-geochemical analyses and geological compilations. With regard to geophysical work, these are methods of researching hydrocarbons by indirect measures of the physical properties of the basement. This work is done by air or directly on the ground. The most frequently used survey types in oil and gas exploration are seismic, gravimetric, magnetic and magnetotelluric surveys. Finally, drilling works include the preparation of the drilling site, drilling, completion, modification, testing and temporary or permanent closures. »Of course, it is very rare, especially in Quebec, that companies can quickly find oil or gas reservoirs.  Therefore, this work can be spread over several years or even decades.

What are the regions favorable to the discovery of hydrocarbons in Quebec?

As we have seen in the posted note #1on the formation of hydrocarbons, two important points must be considered:

– The Source Rock: where hydrocarbons are formed

– The Reservoir Rock: where hydrocarbons are accumulating

In order to have a Source Rock, it is necessary to have a low-agitated sediment deposit medium, deprived of oxygen and with good transport of organic matter such as in a river delta or a sedimentary basin edge.  For the Reservoir Rocks, it is a bit more complex because they must be in the migration path of the hydrocarbons escaping from the Source Rock to be able to trap them, they must have a good porosity and also must be in a trapping situation:

  • Stratigraphic Trap:Superposition/alternation of impermeable and porous rocks
  • Structural Trap:A fold in the succession of rocks or a fault system that shifts the porous and impermeable rocks creating a natural plug 
  • Mixed Trap:associated with the formation or intrusion of a salt diapir (rising of the salt to the surface as observed in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine).

What do we have in Quebec ?

Have the above conditions met here in the past? Based on different scientific articles, on the MERN reports and even on sites more accessible for the uninitiated (like Planet Earth), the answer is unanimous: Yes, Quebec presents several regions with a potential for the discovery of hydrocarbons.

Quebec is divided into four geological regions: the Grenville-Churchill-Superior, the St. Lawrence Lowlands, the Appalachians and, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Îles-de-la-Madeleine basin.

The first geological region located mainly in the northern part of Quebec is that of the Grenville, Churchill and Superior, which contains mostly very old rocks (several billion years). They may be conducive to mineralization but not to the presence of hydrocarbons because the rocks in this province are mainly crystalline and non-sedimentary.

The second geological region is now better known for having experienced a recent conflict situation. Indeed, the St. Lawrence Lowlandsregion contains a natural gas-rich Source Rockformation, the Utica shale Formation. Because it is a Source Rock it is complicated to produce the gas because it  requires hydraulic fracturing to create porosity.  However, there is also in the Lowlandsthe Trenton Formationthat is also potentially interesting. This formation is best known by our Ontario and American neighbours with proven reserves and produced discoveries. It is a Reservoir Rockwith good porosity which is in contact with the Source Rock (Utica) and it does not require fracking to get the resource.

The third region corresponds to the Appalachians. This old mountain range is conducive to more conventional discoveries such as in Gaspésie-Bas-Saint-Laurent, that of Galt, Bourque, Haldiman and the Massé structure, which present structural reservoirs that are often complex. These reservoirs are found in several formations such as Forillon, Westpoint and Sayabecand do not require hydraulic fracturing.

The fourth region is located in the marine environment of the Îles-de-la-Madeleineregion, where a very deep basin exists containing Source Rocksand numerous Reservoir Rocks.  The exploration of the years 1970 to 1980, however, did not produce any discovery of hydrocarbons.

Squatex Resources and Energy is advantageously positioned in two of these regions with high potential: The Lowlandsand Lower St. Lawrence(Appalachians).

What is natural oil seeps?

If you walk in a forest or a trail near you, you may notice a greasy substance flowing from a rock or even into a stream. Is it pollution? Probably not! Indeed, during our last blog post on hydrocarbon formation formation des hydrocarbureswe talked about the Source Rock essentially, but what happens next?

The oil and gas formed in the Source Rock suffers enormous pressures due to the weight of the rock that has accumulated above it.  As oil and gas are lighter than water and rock, these migrate upward with the formation water (from the old sea).

So there are two possibilities 1) Oil and natural gas are trapped by a Reservoir-Rock which is covered by a waterproof layer or 2) There is no Reservoir-Rock or impermeable layer. This second possibility, which is most common, then produces a natural phenomenon that since millions of years and which is called natural surface seeps.

The figure below comes from a very good article from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MERN) and highlights the natural nature of the seeps, i.e. without human intervention.

Natural seeps are the first indices for geologists seeking hydrocarbons from the potential presence of subsurface reservoirs.

In the Province of Quebec, many areas have long been known to be teeming with natural hydrocarbon seeps. For example the Gaspésie (Northern Peninsula and Gaspé Bay), La Mauricie (The Devil’s Fountain), the St. Lawrence lowlands between Montreal and Quebec where methane was measured by the government in 1966 in drinking water in thousands of wells, and in the St. Lawrence River where several methane seeps have recently been identified by the Geological Survey of Canada. All these indications show that the potential for hydrocarbons in Quebec is far from negligible and deserves to be studied carefully.

The seeps are 100% natural phenomena! So when you walk in the woods, keep an eye open, you never know, you may find the future big oil field Quebecers!

Do you have any questions about this scientific note? You can contact the Squatex team at any time to answer your questions!

For questions of a scientific nature:

Alexandre Aubiès-T., PhD., Geo.


For media Inquiries:

Jean-François Thibault, ing. jr


How are hydrocarbons generated?

The generation of hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas) can be explained in a simple way by a slow process that can be divided into 3 main stages: 1) Formation of the Source Rock; 2) Burial of the Source Rock; and 3) Formation of gas and oil.

It should be noted that the “Source Rock” is a sedimentary rock derived from erosion processes that is naturally rich in organic matter and in which hydrocarbons are formed. Not to be confused with Reservoir Rock which is a rock in which hydrocarbons accumulate.(From : Dictionnaire de géologie 4eédition, Foucault et Raoult).

1- Formation of the Source Rock

After the death of a living organism (plant or animal), the material of which it is composed is recycled either by being eaten by scavengers or bacteria, or by being directly transformed into carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrate, sulphate, etc. to be released in the atmosphere or in the groundwater. However, 0.1% of this material escapes this fate and ends up being deposited in sediments at the bottom of the seas or lakes which are low-agitated and low-oxygenated environments, thus favorable to preserve this organic matter. Due to anaerobic bacteria, this mixture is transformed into dark and smelly mud that accumulates and hardens over time to become a source rock with at least a 1-2% organic matter content.

The environments most conducive to significant accumulations of organic matter have the following characteristics: i) They are located in warm climate conducive to the formation of plankton II) are near the mouth of rivers or deltas where a greater amount of organic matter is carried; and III) are far from a mountain range which limit the presence of heavier mineral sediments.

2- Burial of the Source Rock

Under the weight of the accumulating sediments, the source rock sinks into the earth’s crust at a rate of a few meters to a few hundred meters per million years. This progressive phenomenon is called subsidence and creates what is called a sedimentary basin.

Burial gradually submits the source rock to increasingly strong pressures and temperatures. The organic matter it contains is crushed by the weight of the sediments (at a depth of 1000 m, temperature is 50 °c and the pressure reaches 250 bars).

Under these physical conditions, the nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus atoms end up disappearing and the organic matter is gradually transforming into kerogen, a mixture of water, CO2, carbon and hydrogen that will allow for the genesis of oil and gas.

3- Formation of gas and oil

At depth of burial of about 2000m and at a temperature of 100 ° C, the kerogen begins to transform into hydrocarbons.

At depths between 2000m and 3800m, we are in what we call the oil window(liquid oil) in which the kerogen generates on average more oil than gas.

And at depths between 3800m and 5000m, the peak of theoil windowis reached and we enter into the gas windowin which the kerogen gives more and more light parts and the generation of gas (methane) takes over the formation of oil. 

Hydrocarbons Formation, taken from the course Planet Earth Université Laval (P. Bourque)

There you go! It is by being subjected to these different phases that some organisms end up being transformed into hydrocarbons!

Do you have questions about this scientific note? You can always contact the Squatex team who will answer your questions!

For scientific questions:

Alexandre Aubiès-T., PhD., Geo.


For media inquiries:

Jean-François Thibault, ing. jr


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.