Tight oil plays in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin have recently seen a significant increase in activity through advances in horizontal drilling and fracturing technology. The Cardium Formation in the Pembina field of Alberta, Canada is one such play, with approximately 454 new multi-stage fracture stimulated horizontal wells rig released in 2011. Within the Pembina field there are significant geological variations, which are highlighted by the range of oil production rates and profiles seen throughout the field.

This paper provides a review of the Cardium Formation in the Pembina field, including comparisons of the technical and economic results of the different multi-stage fracture fluids within each specific geographical region and a comparison of the results between the geographical regions.

In general, reservoir quality and oil production from the eastern region of the Pembina field is poorer than oil production from the central and western regions, and therefore the economics of costly completion techniques are unfavourable in the East. Water foam hydraulic fracture fluid yields the highest reserves and value in Central and East Pembina whereas slickwater hydraulic fracture fluid results in the highest reserves and value in West Pembina.

By increasing the understanding of the different approaches that are currently being used and the results, the industry can select the appropriate technique for completing new wells in the Cardium and other similar tight oil plays world-wide.

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