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Leduc (1947) Page 2

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Leduc No. 1

Leduc Number 1 Opening DayThe first drill site was Leduc No. 1. This site was found on a field on Mike Turta's farm, which is located 15 kilometres west of Leduc and about 50 kilometres south of Edmonton. The well was ranked a wildcat. No drilling of any kind had taken place within an eighty kilometre radius. Drilling started on November 20, 1946. At the beginning, the crew thought the well was a gas discovery, but there were signs of something more. Past 1,500 metres, the drilling sped up and the first bit samples showed free oil in the reservoir rock.

As a result of this breakthrough, Imperial Oil decided to bring the well in with some fanfare at ten o'clock in the morning on February 13, 1947. The oil company invited civic dignitaries, the media, and the general public to the well site, which is south of what is now Devon. The night before the ceremony, however, swabbing equipment broke down and the crew members laboured all night to repair it. By morning no oil flowed and many of the invited guests left.

Finally, late in the afternoon, the crew prompted the well to flow. Many locals came to see a spectacular column of smoke and fire beside the derrick as the crew flared the first gas and oil. Alberta mines minister N. E. Tanner turned the valve to start the oil flowing (at an initial rate of about 155 cubic metres per day), and the Canadian oil industry moved into the modern era. Imperial Oil's search for oil finally paid off. By the end of 1947, Imperial Oil and a group of small companies had drilled 147 more wells in the Leduc-Woodbend oilfield. Surprisingly, only eleven were dry.

Leduc No. 1 stopped producing in 1974 after the production of 317,000 barrels of oil and 9 million cubic metres of natural gas. On November 1, 1989, Esso Resources—the exploration and production arm of Imperial Oil—began producing the field as a gas reservoir.

On February 13th, 1947 -- with the press, government officials, and local farmers standing by -- the Leduc #1 blew in. Vern Hunter recalled the event: "By the morning of February 13 -- the date set -- we hadn't started to swab (a technique for sucking oil to the surface) and that operation sometimes takes days.  However, we crossed our fingers and at daylight started in. Shortly before 4 p.m. the well started to show some signs of life. Then with a roar the well came in, flowing into the sump near the rig. We switched it to the flare line, lit the fire and the most beautiful smoke ring you ever saw went floating skywards."

Leduc #1 Gushes Oil Listen



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