X Marks the Spot for a Well
Five things to know about where companies drill for oil and gas
Road trip season is upon us, which means you’ll likely be hitting the road this summer with your windows down and the radio up!
If you’re driving in Alberta, you can’t help but notice the plethora of pump jacks that pepper the landscape. You may be curious about how companies determine where to drill their wells and how those pump jacks seem to be scattered haphazardly across the land. But what may surprise you is that there is a lot to consider when deciding on oil and gas well placement in Alberta.
Here are five things that are good to know about how companies choose well sites:
- Getting the thumbs up. Before a company is allowed to drill a well, it must obtain mineral rights from the Government of Alberta and approval from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER).
- Make some room. The AER requires companies to follow spacing requirements to ensure wells are not drilled too close to one another.
- Know it by name. The specific piece of land where a well is drilled is called a target area. There are two types: central target areas and corner target areas.
- The space between. A central target area means that the well is drilled in the middle of the piece of land, so that the space around it is the same in every direction. A corner target area means that the space around it only has to be the same in two directions, allowing the drill to be placed in either corner of a piece of land.
- North vs. South. In southern Alberta, wells are drilled in corner target areas because it minimizes the impact they have on the large amount of agricultural activity in this region, particularly irrigation. In northern Alberta where most of the land is forested, wells are drilled in central target areas.