Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Grande Prairie Oilfield Site Visit

A company we work with invited a bunch of us up to Grande Prairie (700 km NW of Calgary) to see their drilling operations there. It was informative and it was awesome, because I got to wear coveralls and fly in a helicopter.

We visited several sites in various stages of drilling progress. From one of these little drilling "pads", they are able to drill downward to the desired depth and then turn the drill bit to go out horizontally another mile or more. That means that they don't need too many pads and they can put them close to the road.

Once the drilling is finished, then they crack the rock using hydraulic pressure. They send ceramic balls of various sizes down the well and they eventually come to rest in a mount that blocks off the flow of liquid to the rest of the well. When they amp up the pressure, it fractures the rock, allowing oil and gas to flow more freely towards the well. This company was still trying to find the best method to frack their wells, and they showed us what happened when a bunch of the balls got jammed up in the wrong place.

Flying in a helicopter is a great experience. The take-off and landing are the exciting bits, especially given the heavy winds that day. Seeing everything from the air was amazing. There is SO MUCH wilderness out there. Loved it.

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