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Cinderella Rig

Page 1 | 2

Foreword

Imperial Leduc No. 2's original mission was to evaluate the Lower Cretaceous gas sands (three MMcf per day wet gas) down-dip from No. 1. But a series of unexpected events set the stage for a crude discovery at noonday more significant than the February 13, 1947 find. The chapter describing this step-out and the enormous potential hazards it faced are to be found in my book "LEDUC".

Franks rigImperial Leduc No. 1's objective had been twofold: to evaluate all Cretaceous sands and obtain stratigraphic information from the Paleozoic down to the Silurian.

Continual coring (using wireline core barrel) ensured nothing would be passed up. So it was when 4,261 feet had been reached at No. 1, porosity and oil stained sand justified three drill stem tests, all yielding nearly three MMcf per day plus light oil. The first test January 6, 1947 must have filled the Weeks' camp with joy; for wasn't this proof positive of a hinge belt accumulation? (Lewis B. Wicks, international guru, had projected a thick sand accumulation southwest of Edmonton.) Secondly it set the wheels in motion to drill a down-dip follow-up. Whose initiative? There is nothing in the existing records to indicate the next move. Where to find a rig? Why not the Franks 3 at Greenglade (Provost area wildcat)? The rig was perfectly matched to the depth as then envisioned, but would certainly not be strong enough for the much deeper unexpected objective. One wonders why the mast did not collapse.

Leduc, AlbertaThe next step was to choose the location for this step-out. Imperial Oil wanted to stay on Crown land and their first choice was Section 10, a title over a mile straight south of No. 1. Surface owner of the northwest quarter of 10 was Henry Ratke. Herdwick, the eldest son, felt it was not his place to commit to a surface lease with his parents away on holiday in Michigan. If 13-10 had been drilled (as it was to be later on as a farmout from Imperial Oil to Hargal) it would have hit the D-3 at too deep a subsea, that is, below the oil/water interface and would have had to be abandoned. So Imperial Leduc No. 3 farther to the northeast would have become the discovery well for the D-3.

The land department then looked at southeast quarter 16 (also Crown, kitty corner to Section 10, Mr. Sommers' land. Sommers later complained about the noise of the diesels) so the location was crowded west and south, being surveyed in by Rennie Haylock.

George de Mille – practical, self-trained geologist who later became one of Imperial’s most respected earth scientists, had been at Minburn on the gas well campaign. He was told by Fred Killer to move to Leduc as soon as possible to assist the author. "We prepared ourselves by looking over core and logs of No. 1, particularly the Devonian section."

The drilling license issued January 29 was for 4,500 feet (just into the "Upper Porous" Devonian) but would be deepened twice before the hole was finally completed. No. 2 was spudded February 12, just the day before No. 1 was brought in. Only 250 feet of 8-5/8 acid surface pipe were run "to case off all surface waters" - maybe okay for Cretaceous, but not for what was to come.

Ralph Archibald, one of the floor men (he had to commute from Wetaskiwin), describes going out to rig up at the well site...."We'd get into the back of this old International pickup with a high back on it. You'd close the door in the back, but it was colder than the hubs of hell. They had a little heater in the back...you might as well have lit a match. We had a little bit of a shack there (at the well site).....cold bald-headed prairie. I think the first day we made three or four inches in that black soil....it was like flint (pick and shovel, axes, crowbars)...its seemed like a hundred years before we could get that rig going and I am sure that Paul Matvenko, an explosives man, was used.....'' (He blasted the frozen ground with dynamite).

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