This was Royal Helium’s second well north of Ogema, drilled in the fall of 2021. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

SASKATOON – Royal Helium shifted gears over the course of the winter, reducing its drilling plan, focusing more on production and seismic surveys for future drilling.

On March 3, president and CEO Andrew Davidson said they had two seismic programs running at the time. “Rigs will be moving out after breakup, based on the results of the seismic program,” he said by phone.

“We have a 3D program going on at Climax, and a 2D program down at Val Marie,” he said. “We’ll be moving the drilling rig after breakup with the first well at Val Marie, and then our fifth well at Climax.”

Val Marie is the third area Royal will be drilling in. Last fall the company drilled two wells northwest of Ogema.

They initially did their exploration at Climax based on 2D seismic. Asked why the shift to 3D, Davidson said, “Initially 2D is sufficient to start drilling some exploration wells, which is why we’re doing 2D at Val Marie. But at Climax, we need the 3D additional definition on both the conventional traps, which are adjacent to our Climax-1, 2 and 3 wells, and then also the further map the lateral extent of the Nazare. So clearly, we found some very interesting things, we’ve dug some successful wells. We need to map the extents at the highest resolution we can.”

The “Nazare” is a new formation the company has dubbed based on its exploration at Climax, found very close to the sedimentary basement. That fifth Climax well will not be targeting the Nazare, but rather a conventional trap target.

The company has yet to produce its first cubic meter of helium. But Davidson said, “It should be coming in the near future. We lost a month due to weather and COVID, which put us behind schedule. That bumps us also up into breakup. We’re more or less ready to go. We’re at the end stages of our discussion, and also on the facilities design.

The company intends on employing one drilling rig for its summer program.

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In addition to doing their seismic work, Davidson said Royal was working with an engineer to do some reservoir modelling on the Nazare zone. Indeed, on March 9, the company announced it had engaged Dr. Gary Zhao, of the University of Regina’s Petroleum Systems Engineering Laboratory, to construct simulation development models for the Nazare zone at Royal’s Climax helium project. The modelling program will be used to determine the drill design and completion method to develop the Nazare discovery zone. The results of the program, along with the initial plans for Nazare development, will be announced once complete.

John Styles, lead completions and production engineering consultant to Royal said in a press release, “Royal is fortunate to have retained Dr. Gary Zhao for this stage of development of the Nazare discovery zone. Gary’s skill and experience with multistage hydraulic fracturing horizontal wells and their application for tight reservoirs are well known, with his skills having been brought to bear on several major projects with some of Canada’s largest oil and gas corporations.”

In that release, Davidson, added, “With the novel nature and the high-impact potential of our Nazare discovery, we are pleased to be working with the University of Regina, having one of the top petroleum engineering laboratories in the world, and Dr. Zhao in particular who has been integral to numerous successful collaborative ventures of this type.”

Davidson said they think they’ve figured out how to complete Nazare wells. “The frac we did there worked very, very well,” he said. “We got info, we tested it, it’s confirmed everything we needed on the problem in place. That worked very well. So now it’s a matter of what’s the most economical way to develop Nazare.  It may be fewer, but bigger wells, going horizontally, if that’s the best approach. This is what the modeling’s going to tell us. What would the optimal well design be to produce as much gas as possible out of a single wellbore.”

He hopes to get rolling with drilling soon after breakup. The seismic was expected to be completed mid-March in both fields. “As soon as we’re allowed to get in the field, we will,” he said.

 

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