Resource Plays - Operations - Birchcliff Energy

Resource Plays

Birchcliff is focused on two established resource plays within the Peace River Arch: the Montney/Doig Resource Play and the Charlie Lake Light Oil Resource Play. Birchcliff characterizes its resource plays as plays that have regionally pervasive, continuous, low permeability hydrocarbon accumulations or systems that usually require intensive stimulation to produce. The production characteristics of these plays include steep initial declines that rapidly trend to much lower decline rates, yielding long life production and reserves. Resource plays exhibit a statistical distribution of estimated ultimate recoveries and therefore provide a repeatable distribution of drilling opportunities. As more wells are drilled into a resource play, there is a substantial decrease in both the geological and technical risks. These plays are ideally suited for the application of horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracture stimulation technology.


Birchcliff’s Montney/Doig Resource Play is centred approximately 95 kilometres northwest of Grande Prairie and, in the opinion of management, is one of the most sought after resource plays in North America. Birchcliff’s Montney/Doig Resource Play contains three primary producing regions: Pouce Coupe, Gordondale and Elmworth.

The Montney/Doig Resource Play in Birchcliff’s core areas of operations is approximately 300 m (1,000 feet) thick.  The play has a large areal extent covering in excess of 50,000 square miles.  Another very important attribute is the mineralogy of the reservoir.  The Montney/Doig is composed of a high percentage of hard minerals and a very low percentage of soft minerals including clays resulting in exceptional “fracability”.  This, combined with the current stress regime, results in the rock shattering more like glass in a complex fracture style versus a simple bi-wing style.  The rock parameters also yield exceptional fracture stability; the fractures stay open due to low proppant embedment.  This is a key contributing factor to the very low terminal declines and large estimated ultimate recoveries of the play.  Unlike most shale gas plays that are predominantly shale, the Montney/Doig is classified by Birchcliff as a hybrid resource play because it is comprised of gas saturated rock with both tight silt and sand reservoir rock interlayered with shale gas source rock. This results in relatively high permeability and productivity rates.

Hydrodynamics is another important attribute for resource plays.  A large portion of the Montney/Doig Resource Play is over-pressured which reduces the potential for significant water production.  The Pouce Coupe and Gordondale areas are predominantly over-pressured which also results in higher gas in-place.

These rock properties result in high recovery factors. 

The Montney and a majority of the Doig were deposited in a lower to middle shore face environment that is regionally extensive and results in a widespread style deposit that provides for more repeatable results.


The Charlie Lake Light Oil Resource Play is described by Birchcliff as a regionally extensive variety of restricted to nearshore marine facies. The Charlie Lake reservoirs are heterogeneous and consist of varying quantities of laminated and dolomitic, silty to fine-grained sandstones. The reservoir intervals typically exhibit porosity in the order of 8 to 15 percent, and net reservoir thickness of 3 to 30 metres. A critical component of the Charlie Lake Light Oil Resource play is the main trapping mechanism being a regional hydrodynamic trap setting up a large regional hydrocarbon column and oil pool.

The Charlie Lake reservoirs on the Peace River Arch were historically drilled vertically with reasonable economic results. Starting in the 1980s, various companies drilled horizontal wells in the Charlie Lake reservoirs with varying results. Birchcliff was one of the first companies to utilize multi-stage fracture stimulation technology with horizontal wells in the Charlie Lake and has had very positive results.

Horizontal wells on the Charlie Lake Light Oil Resource Play that utilize multi-stage fracture stimulation technology are generally drilled to a measured depth of 2,500 to 3,500 metres and deliver initial productivity rates of 100 to 750 boe/d.