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Control Well Requirements for Horseshoe Canyon and Belly River Coalbed Methane Development

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Release Date: July 08, 2014

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has been collecting reservoir information on the Horseshoe Canyon and Belly River coal zones that produce coalbed methane (CBM) since the start of its CBM control well program in 2006. Since that time, the AER’s understanding of CBM resources has improved and it has made a number of changes to its control well requirements as a result (see the 2010 edition of AER Directive 062: Coalbed Methane Control Well Requirements and Related Matters and Bulletin 2011-36: Change to Pressure Testing Requirements for Coalbed Methane Pressure and Flow Control Wells). The AER’s understanding of CBM development in these coals is now at a stage where additional changes are appropriate.

Effective immediately for the 2014 calendar year, the AER grants relief from

  • the annual flow meter logging requirement in section 11.145(1)(b) of the Oil and Gas Conservation Rules (OGCR) for Horseshoe Canyon and Belly River CBM pressure and flow control wells, and
  • the control well requirements in section 7.025(1) of the OGCR for the Taber and MacKay coals of the Belly River Group.

The AER is examining the requirements in sections 7.025 and 11.145 of the OGCR that a well producing gas from a coal must have a designated pressure and flow control well within three kilometres for Horseshoe Canyon and Belly River coals. It anticipates that the revised control well density for these coals will be lower than what is currently required. This would result in fewer wells to test and allow control wells that are no longer required to add non-coal completion intervals for increased production.

While the AER is reviewing these requirements, you have the opportunity to submit an application to rescind specific control wells to reduce the density of control well coverage. Your application should be submitted through the AER’s Electronic Application Submission system in accordance with Directive 062. The application must not cover an area of more than nine townships. It must also demonstrate that each township has one or more remaining AER-designated control wells that in combination have completions in each of the coal zones being produced in that township. The ultimate distribution of remaining pressure and flow control wells should be evenly spaced and the AER will take this into consideration in its review of the application.

The AER will announce longer-term revisions to these requirements later this year.

Other Testing Requirements

The AER continues to require

  • initial and end-of-life pressure tests on all CBM pressure and flow control wells as per AER Bulletin 2011-36. The AER continues to require these tests to establish drainage areas and ultimate CBM recovery for use in characterizing the end-of-life gas content of the coals across the entire CBM development area; and
  • that designated CBM pressure and flow control wells be completed only in coals and not in any sands or other lithologies as per Directive 062. Production from multiple coal seams in a control well may continue to be commingled in the wellbore.

 For more information, e-mail @email or call their help line at 403-476-4967.

<original signed by>

Cal Hill
Executive Vice President
Strategy and Regulatory Division