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In 1978, an all-time drilling record was set in Western Canada, with 6,893 wells being drilled, an increase of 16% from 1977. A total of 3,065 exploratory wells was drilled, up 12% from the 2,740 wells in 1977. Development wells also reached record numbers, with 3,845 wells, an increase of 20% from 1977.
The success rate for exploratory wells was 55% based on 581 oil discoveries and 1,111 gas discoveries. The development rate was markedly higher, at 89%, from 1,214 oil discoveries and 2,208 gas discoveries.
In Alberta, activity in the 2 major 1977 discovery areas of Elmworth and West Pembina was high. The Elmworth deep basin with tight Lower Cretaceous sandstones contains an estimated potential of up to 440 Tcf, of which a major part is recoverable only at higher gas prices. The West Pembina D-2 pinnacle-reef oil and gas discoveries generated major drilling activity, and land prices in the area reached a maximum of over $26,000/lease acre. In British Columbia, the West Eagle 1977 oil discovery has been actively pursued, with 26 additional discovery wells to March 1978.
In the Arctic Islands and Northwest Territories, drilling activity decreased for the fifth successive year, with 18 wells drilled. A deeper oil discovery at Norman Wells, 2 Beaufort Sea suspended gas discoveries, and an under-ice development well on Melville Island were the highlights.
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