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The Beaver River gas field is located mostly in northern British Columbia at the approximate junction of the British Columbia-Yukon and Northwest Territories boundaries.
The Beaver structure was mapped initially by E. D. Kindle in 1944, while working for the Geological Survey of Canada. Amoco Canada mapped the area in 1955, and as a result of its map interpretation, purchased the Crown lands over the Beaver River structure, as well as several other structures. The discovery well on the Beaver River structure was commenced in 1958 and completed in 1960. The excessive length of time required to drill the well resulted from continued problems, the most serious being a gas blow-out, which resulted in the death of 2 rig hands. A total of 6 follow-up wells has been drilled on the structure, proving a recoverable gas reserve of 1.4 trillion cu ft of gas.
The gas reserve is in an anticline which can be mapped by surface geology and has been confirmed in the subsurface by conventional geophysical methods. The producing zone identified as of Middle Devonian age is a secondary dolomite with fair to good porosity and permeability. The porosity and permeability are improved substantially by fracturing associated with the structural deformation. Exploration in the area of Beaver River, while ideal relative to the standards of the surface geologist, is a nightmare of high costs and problems for the geophysicists and engineers. Access problems due to terrain variations, extreme cold in winter, and muskeg in summer, make normal operations extremely difficult and costly.
The "disturbed belt" of Northeast British Columbia and the Yukon and Northwest Territories undoubtedly holds many more giant hydrocarbon accumulations similar to Beaver River. However, for exploration to flourish in these high-cost areas, exploration incentives are necessary. Reasonable assurance that hydrocarbons when found will get to market with as little delay as possible is a primary requirement. With increasing demand for fuel on the North American continent, Canada's northland gains prominence as a potential supplier. As the demand becomes more urgent, exploration for accumulations such as Beaver River should expand.
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