Drill Bits & Bytes Part 1: Curious about drilling activity in Western Canada

February 14, 2013 by

Editor’s Note: While VISAGE rebranded to VERDAZO in April 2016, we haven’t changed the VISAGE name in our previous blog posts. We’re proud of our decade of work as VISAGE and that lives on within these blogs. Enjoy.

My 3-year-old daughter, Amelia, has had a significant influence on me over the last year in particular. Regardless of what we do or where we are she is constantly bombarding me with questions. This has reinvigorated my own sense of curiosity… which is why I woke up the other day wondering, How many meters were drilled in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB = MB, SK, AB, and BC) last year?  I tried to guess … but couldn’t ground myself with enough facts to manufacture a guess. So I jumped into VISAGE and ran some quick and simple charts using the public data from the IHS Information Hub. In just a few minutes, here’s what I discovered:

  • Meters Drilled in 2012:  26,645,125 m

That’s almost 27, 000 km of well bore in 2012. The diameter of the earth is 12, 742 km. That means, if we were to line up all of those well bores we could have drilled through the earth (to the other side) twice.

Now that had me curious… what was the most meters drilled in one year?

  • The answer is 45,767,817 meters in 2005. That’s enough to go through the earth 3.6 times.

Now that had me even more curious… how many meters have been drilled in the entire WCSB since the beginning of time…. and when was the first well drilled?

  • The first well (with a recorded rig release date) was in 1883.
  • Since then there have been 733,127 wells drilled with a cumulative 868,394,326 meters drilled (up to Dec 31st, 2012). Now let’s put that in a fun context … how many times around the earth is that? The circumference of the earth is 40,075 km. That makes enough meters drilled to wrap around the earth’s equator almost 22 times.

My curiosity didn’t stop there … how much drilling is attributable to horizontal wells in recent years? The easiest answer is to show you…

 Meters Drilled in the WCSB

Horizontal well drilling surpassed vertical (+ deviated) in 2010, and in 2012 accounts for 80% of meters drilled in the WCSB. With a shift towards horizontal drilling, how has that affected the number of wells drilled? We’ll investigate this more in future installments of this series.  And when you ask me why I bothered to find out all these facts, I’ll answer you with the same answer I give my daughter when I’m at a loss for an explanation … “Why not?”.

So that completes the first installment of the Drill Bits and Bytes series. You might be interested in reading the rest of the series:

Drill Bits & Bytes Part 2: The Decline of Gas Drilling in Western Canada

Drill Bits & Bytes Part 3: A Shift in Western Canada’s Gas Production

Drill Bits & Bytes Part 4: Oil Drilling Activity in Western Canada

Drill Bits & Bytes Part 5: Western Canada Oil Keeps Rising