As industry continues to endure the chaos of the last six months (not that the last six years have been much of a picnic…), activity is slowly returning to key plays like the Clearwater. Outside of thermal development wells at Cold Lake, the Clearwater went undrilled from early March to mid-August 2020. However, new wells have since been spudded at Nipisi, Marten Hills, Meanook (on the Jarvie trend) and Ukalta (figure 1).
Since multi-lateral Clearwater production volumes and rates account for drainage from as few as two to as many as nine horizontal wellbores of various lengths, normalizing production to a standard lateral interval (1,000m) allows for an unbiased area comparison. Initial production results from the last Clearwater wells drilled before the pandemic-enhanced slowdown (on production since August 1, 2019), show an average IPmax consistent with, or slightly higher than the historical average for four of five areas (figure 2). The top wells at Marten Hills and Nipisi have IPmax rates more than double their area average. The locations of each area’s top well show a strong correlation to new drilling activity.
Admittedly, the longer term performance (i.e. decline rates) of these newer Clearwater wells remains to be seen, but initial results suggest the play is still flourishing with continued growth potential. Recent technical advancements include the development of multiple Clearwater sand intervals from a single surface location, such as those targeted by Spur at Nipisi.
There are a myriad of reservoir and fluid-related factors responsible for production variation between areas (Wilson, 2020), many of which are examined in CDL’s regional Clearwater Hydrodynamics and Reservoir Study (CDL, 2020).