It is the same age as the Bakken in Saskatchewan and North Dakota, but is yet to be proven the identical resource. The Alberta Bakken/Exshaw fairway is bound by the Rocky Mountain Thrust Belt to the West, Sweetgrass Arch to the East and continues South into Montana.
This unconventional reservoir is overpressured, low permeability, and mixed lithology. Early vertical wells were looking at the mulit-zone potential. The Exshaw in the area had oil stained cuttings and when Drill Stem Tested recovered clean oil. These wells also found the localized sweet spots with pay sections over 25m thick. Faulting has created the thicker sweet spots, but more important are the associated natural fractures as they are the conduit for higher production rates.
Keys to success in this play will be:
Identifying extensional faults
Drilling near structure to increase probability of natural fractures
Effective completion strategies
Once drilled using data from the horizontal, well logs and gas detector to:
Identify the natural fracture network
Find the brittle or ductile areas
Tailor the completion program
With the recent success of the Three Forks formation in the Williston Basin, more activity is forecast for the Exshaw / Alberta Bakken.