New technology makes it possible
Deltastream is a name you hear quite often these days, as being one of a few energy companies drilling new wells in the area. Along with Spur Petroleum, it seems to be pretty active in the Marten Hills. It turns out Deltastream is not only investing millions, its president and CEO Roger Tang likes talking to reporters.
“Last year we had $10 million spending in the Slave Lake area,” he says, in a phone interview. “We expect similar or maybe higher – drilling more wells this year.”
Deltastream started buying properties in 2016, Tang says. Its production is now up to 7,000 barrels per day and they hope to get that even higher. Production is from three different areas, with the eastern end of the Marten Hills (more or less north of Fawcett Lake) being the biggest of the three. The oil is being trucked out, but Tang foresees construction of a pipeline. He says 20,000 barrels per day are being produced in the area in total (by Deltastream and half a dozen other companies) and a pipeline would be quicker and much safer than trucks. The pipeline, as proposed, would run southwest from the field, joining an existing line not far from Slave Lake, Tang says.
The field is not a newly discovered. It was known about, Tang says, but back in the day the technology did not exist to profitably get it out of the ground.
“It wasn’t obvious you could use it,” he says.
In the past 10 years or so, ‘multi-lateral’ drilling has developed, allowing a single vertical shaft to have as many as eight horizontal wells leading off of it.
“It works really well,” Tang says. “It can draw 200 times more oil than one horizontal well.”
Not to mention the lesser footprint in the forest. In the old days, Tang says, 90 wells required 90 pads. Now, one pad per eight wells, taking care of one section of land.
“Our environmental impact is so low, you barely notice it.”
Tang likens the field Deltastream is working to the Pelican Lake one.
“It’s going to last 30-40 years, easily,” he says.
All of this is encouraging news for the M.D. of Lesser Slave River, which has lost a fair amount of tax revenue in recent years due to a decline in oilfield activity.
“It’s all good,” says CAO Allan Winarski. “We’ve got new pipelines coming through and the possibility of loading terminals out at Mitsue.”