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Home > Alberta's Resource Inventory > Hydrocarbons > Exploration > Before Drilling

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Before DrillingGeochemical Testing

There has been a long-standing and close co-operation among industry, government and academic scientists in gathering data about oil and gas in Canada. Early requirements to accurately record all kinds of information from the hundreds of thousands of wells drilled to date in Canada have given us an extremely valuable and reliable database that can be used quickly and cheaply.

The recent introduction of computerized commercial databases is speeding up the generation of new drilling prospects, the optimization of producing fields, and the scrutinizing of field operations.

Additional information can also be obtained by studying the geochemistry of an area. The chemical composition of sedimentary rocks, fluids and gases near the surface may indicate the presence of oil or gas at deeper levels. Sometimes shallow holes are drilled to obtain samples for geochemical testing. The effects of these leaking hydrocarbons may also be seen by the effect on plants in the area.

Based on this information, the explorationist must then convince managers or investors to provide funds for further work. The next stage is to develop an image of the underground formations integrating all the available geological and geophysical information. It may be possible to obtain the geophysical data from regulatory bodies or purchase information acquired in previous surveys. If not, the geologist works with a geophysicist and a contractor to plan a seismic survey. Obtaining a government licence and arranging access with landowners is next on the agenda.

Petroleum Communication Foundation. Our Petroleum Challenge: Exploring Canada's Oil and Gas Industry, Sixth Edition. Calgary: Petroleum Communication Foundation, 1999. With permission from the Centre for Energy.

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