Canada is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer. This is due, in large part, to the country’s vast reserves in and around Alberta, which contain the third-largest known oil reserves in the world.
Calgary-based ARC Resources Ltd. has called this oil-rich region home for more than 20 years. The company has assets distributed across western Canada and operations that include the exploration, development and production of conventional oil and natural gas.
Just across Alberta’s western border in northeast British Columbia, ARC Resources is one of the largest operators in the Montney region, which is considered one of the best tight gas plays in North America. Tight gas refers to natural gas reservoirs locked in impermeable, hard rock, making the underground formation extremely "tight." It was here that ARC Resources began optimizing the control systems it was using for its large, multi-well natural-gas production sites.
The systems in place at these sites didn’t support artificial lift, a process used on oil wells to increase pressure within the reservoir to help bring oil to the surface; however, artificial lift would be needed soon to maintain production levels. The existing systems also presented both expansion and safety challenges that the company wanted to address.
Operations at a Crossroads
ARC Resources already had optimization programs at its smaller pads that contained only one to four wells. Control systems in place at these pads supported the use of artificial lift systems to help maintain or increase production as these wells depleted.