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Enormous volumes of gas (>30 Tcf) are contained within the deepest portions of the Western Canada Foreland Basin, where tight gas-saturated Cretaceous sandstones grade updip into porous water-saturated sandstones. Production has occurred from coarse-grained shoreline sands both near the updip gas–water interface, such as those found in the Elmworth Field, and from low-porosity–permeability reservoirs found deeper in the basin. These basin-centred gas (BCG) reservoirs are characterized by regionally pervasive gas-saturated lithologies, abnormal pressures and no downdip water contact, and occur in low-permeability reservoirs. The keys to Shell's exploration success were an understanding of the stratigraphy, sedimentology and rock properties of the basin, the development of structural, petrophysical and geomechanical models, development of an understanding of the desiccation or dewatering process, the distribution of water within the basin and how the pressure regime evolved, interpretation of 3D seismic, and an aggressive land strategy. The evaluation of structural leads was aided when seismic and geomechanical modelling were combined, thereby aiding in the prediction of zones with a higher probability of encountering favourable reservoir producibility characteristics, that is, areas where a well developed, well connected open fracture network is expected. This multidisciplinary approach has resulted in economic success in regions once thought to be non-productive, and where it was once said, ‘People go broke chasing the Nikanassin’.

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