Canada regulator says northern oil shale may hold 200 bln barrels

Fri May 22, 2015 4:23pm EDT
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CALGARY, Alberta May 22 (Reuters) - Two prospective shale-oil fields in Canada's Northwest Territories may contain more than 200 billion barrels of crude, according to a study released on Friday by the country's energy regulator, but only a fraction of that amount will be recoverable.

In the first assessment of the Canol and Bluefish shale fields in the central Northwest Territories near the town of Norman Wells, 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, Canada's National Energy Board and the N.W.T. Geological Survey found the fields might be the nation's largest untapped oil reserves.

The Canol field, which has already seen exploratory drilling by Husky Energy Inc and others, could hold as much as 145 billion barrels of oil in place. Although it did not estimate how much of that could be produced, the study says the Permian field in Texas, where producers typically recover 3 percent of oil in place, may be the nearest geological equivalent.

"If a 3 percent recovery factor was applied to the in-place value for the Canol Shale, the recoverable resource would become 4.35 billion barrels," the study noted.

Fourteen exploration licenses have been awarded for the Canol shale, and seven wells have been drilled into the formation since 2012, but results have not been made public.

The smaller Bluefish shale formation has not yet been explored. It is thought to hold 46.3 billion barrels of oil in place. (Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)