Geoscience BC's Seismic Study In The Nechako Basin Assesses Hydrocarbon Development Potential

In 2007, Geoscience BC received a $500,000 grant from Northern Development through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure program towards this $2,500,000 project. This has been a funding partnership of Geoscience BC, Northern Development, and Province of British Columbia

2012- Understanding of the Nechako Basin’s oil and gas potential has been limited by lack of exposure and difficulties in collecting seismic data due to a covering of younger volcanic rocks of unknown thickness. In the 1980s, a seismic survey undertaken by Canadian Hunter collected approximately 1,300 km of information. Five wells were drilled in the early 1980s as a result of this earlier program, but hydrocarbon exploration in the area ceased soon after.

Now, new studies are shedding new light on the Nechako Basin. Geoscience BC’s Nechako Basin Seismic Project, funded with $2 million from Geoscience BC and $500,000 from Northern Development’s Pine Beetle Recovery Account, was focused on the collection and processing of 330 line-kilometres of new seismic data in the Nechako Basin. The area of the survey is largely contained within the Nazko First Nation’s Traditional Territory. Results from this project have been released through Geoscience BC’s website, and follow-up analysis of the seismic data sets is ongoing. Additional Geoscience BC projects have helped map the rocks of the Nechako Basin in greater detail.

Seismic surveys use sound waves to produce images of the rock formations below the earth’s surface. These images provide critical data needed to identify formations and structures with the potential to host oil and gas deposits. Vibroseis surveys create sounds waves using vibrator plates mounted on the base of a series of large trucks.

The Nechako Basin seismic survey representes a major component of Geoscience BC’s interior basins oil and gas geoscience program originally funded in April 2005 with a $5 million grant to Geoscience BC from the Province of British Columbia.

"The hydrocarbon potential of the Nechako Basin is not currently well understood. We believe that these types of regional geoscience projects are key to further developing our knowledge of the basin, which in turn will help attract industry interest to the region."

Dr. 'Lyn Anglin, President and CEO, Geoscience BC

"Our communities are very optimistic that the half million that we have invested to enlarge this survey will result in exploration and diversification opportunities for companies hit so hard by the forest industry downturn. This is exactly what the Pine Beetle Recovery Account should be doing in terms of the economy and the public interest."

Bruce Sutherland, former Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust

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Positive Economic Impacts in Central and Northern BC

By 2013, the Ministry of Forests and Range predicts that the Mountain Pine Beetle will destroy eighty percent of the marketable pine in BC's central and southern interior forests. Presently, the forest industry is near capacity in harvesting the beetle-killed wood. However, as the salvage harvest nears completion, an alternative source of economic activity will be required to replace some if not all of the jobs and economic activity presently supported by the forestry sector. Exploring the potential for the oil and gas sector in the Nechako Basin is seen as an important economic diversification strategy for many northern communities that are focused on mitigating the effects of the pine beetle.

The goal of the Nechako Basin Seismic Project was to develop a better understanding of the hydrocarbon potential of the Nechako Basin and with this information generate interest in the area by oil and gas exploration companies. The prospects for significant returns to the local, regional and provincial economies are quite substantial if the results of this work generate exploration activity and ultimately discoveries are made. Without investments in geoscience to improve understanding of the Nechako Basin region, it is unlikely to attract new oil and gas exploration. The Ministry of Energy and Mines is responsible for administering Crown oil and gas tenures in BC. The ministry has not put any tenures in the Nechako Basin up for auction as of this time, but several oil and gas companies have shown interest in the region requesting information about the region from Geoscience BC.

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