B.C.’s horn river basin contains more gas than thought

A shale formation in the northeastern corner of British Columbia contains twice as much natural gas as previously thought, says a study released Friday.

CALGARY — A shale formation in the northeastern corner of British Columbia contains twice as much natural gas as previously thought, says a study released Friday. The National Energy Board and B.C.’s Ministry of Energy and Mines estimate that the Horn River Basin contains 78 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that can be brought to market. “This report should provide residents of our province with a sense of optimism about the future,” B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman said in a statement. “B.C. is recognized for its significant shale gas reservoirs as well as for having world-class regulations,” Coleman said. To put the study’s numbers into perspective, the National Energy Board estimates the entire Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin contains 197 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, that does not account of unconventional gas resources that have not yet been assessed.

Shale reservoirs like the Horn River are deemed “unconventional” because they can’t be tapped by simply drilling a hole straight into the ground. Until recently, those areas were too expensive and technically difficult to exploit. But new horizontal drilling and rock-fracturing methods have unleashed a torrent of natural gas from shales in British Columbia, Pennsylvania, Texas and elsewhere in North America. The enormous production volumes have led to a supply glut that has dampened natural gas prices throughout the continent. That has led major B.C. gas producers like Encana Corp. (TSX:ECA) to look at selling their gas overseas via West Coast export terminals.

— The Canadian Press