The ERCB Core Research Center in Calgary is the world’s largest and most functional facility of its kind –18,000-square meters of core samples, drill cuttings and well information.
Most of what is being offered at the upcoming AAPG International Conference and Exhibition in Calgary, Canada, is cutting edge, 21st century modern.
But one of the top attractions is likely to be a showcase as old as rock itself.
“Cutting to the Core of Our Business,” a two-day core conference at the ERCB Core Research Center in Calgary, will be offered Sept. 16-17, immediately after the ICE conclusion.
To those who value the basics of the science, this is the place to be.
“In its most basic form,” says AAPG member Nathan Bruder, “the science of geology is rooted in our ability to physically look at and interpret rocks.”
Bruder is co-chair for the conference, along with fellow Statoil Canada geologist and AAPG member John Cody.
Canada’s ERCB (Energy Research Conservation Board) Core Research Center is an independent, quasi-judicial agency of the government of Alberta charged with the regulation of safe, responsible and efficient development of Alberta’s energy resources, including oil, natural gas, oil sands, coal and pipelines.
Housed at Calgary University’s Research Park, the CRC encompasses 18,000-square meters of core samples, drill cuttings (some hundred years old) and drilling and completion information from oil and gas wells throughout the world.
It is the world’s largest and most functional facility of its kind.
Specifically, CRC is available for drill cutting and core research, meetings and seminars, and core cuttings and loans. Data and research are available as well as rentals of equipment, from microscopes to hot plates.
Participants who attend the two-day core seminar in September will get a first-hand look at all the treasures found within the facility: 78,000 drillings kept in 18.5 million vials; 1,650 kilometers of core samples in more than 1.3 million boxes.
Some of the material is as old as the profession itself, like a cutting from a well drilled in 1911 and a core from 1925.
To Bruder, the CRC is invaluable.
“Modern technology, while powerful, does not diminish the importance of core and cutting material,” he said, adding that the CSPG conference and tour will focus on the unconventional, frontier and international hydrocarbon systems.
“Viewing core and cutting materials allows the geoscientist to directly observe key aspects of the reservoir,” he added, “such as detailed sedimentological and biological structures, porosity and permeability relationships and mineralogical changes.”
It is something that only a few facilities have the wherewithal to do.
“Without facilities such as the Core Research Centre,” Bruder said, “the storage and archiving of core material would be left to industry operators, many of which hold varying levels of importance in the core data.”
Translation: Not everyone may place a high priority on core preservation.
“As the search for hydrocarbons becomes more difficult, access to core material becomes even more important,” he continued. “As unconventional plays gain strength within industry, the ability to access and evaluate core material is essential.”
The quantity of what’s on hand, however, is just part of the story. Companies – primarily from Canada, though there are samples from international operators – bring their samples to CRC because of the equipment available to view them and the data and research material on hand to put them in perspective.
“Viewing core and cutting materials,” Bruder said, “allows the geoscientist to directly observe key aspects of the reservoir such as detailed sedimentological and biological structures, porosity and permeability relationships and mineralogical changes.”
Something, he added, that does not occur with imaging alone:
“These key features of the rock cannot be directly imaged or evaluated using well logs or seismic.”
The core conference will highlight the unique place that CRC occupies as a repository for the history of geology in the 21st century – especially in core displays from unconventional exploration in tight oil sandstones of western Canada and tight gas sandstones and shales of Canada and the United States.
Cores from conventional frontier exploration such as the Canadian Arctic, the North Sea, the Barents Sea and countries such as Peru and Yemen also will be on display.
“Attendees to the core conference will be able to directly view core material, in conjunction with formal presentations and poster displays and meeting with authors,” Bruder said.
The ERCB is designed to make energy resource data available at an early stage and then to share that information to companies of all sizes so they can all compete on more equal terms, avoiding past mistakes and ultimately producing energy in an orderly safe way.
“Unlike conventional formal presentations, the core displays are interactive in nature,” Bruder said.
The interactivity extends to those presenting, those participating and, Bruder added, “more importantly, the rock itself.”