Over the last 26 years, ARC has established itself as one of Canada’s premier energy companies – evolving from a small energy trust to become a publicly traded energy company (ARX.TO) and Canada’s third-largest natural gas producer. Through successful execution of our strategy, we have acquired and developed many high-quality, resource-rich properties that have positioned us well for near- and long-term growth as the largest player in Canada’s prolific Montney formation.
With more than one million net acres of contiguous land holdings across the region, the crown jewel of our Montney portfolio is our world-class Dawson asset where, in 2022, we achieved a significant operational milestone – reaching one trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas production since operations began in 2002.
Join us as we look back on the history of our Dawson asset and our journey to reach this important milestone.
1 Tcf of natural gas could heat all the homes in Alberta for approximately seven years.
The Montney formation in western Canada stretches approximately 130,000 km² and has the potential to produce 449 Tcf  of natural gas, making it one of the largest natural gas resources in North America. In 2003, ARC acquired the Dawson asset from Star Oil & Gas and entered into a new era that would transform the company and revolutionize natural gas development in western Canada.
Although drilling horizontal wells was not new in the early 2000s, using multi-stage horizontal fracking technology to enable multiple fracks within the lateral hadn’t been done, and this new approach offered a means to unlock even further value from the resource. Our Operations team recognized the potential of this technology and proposed drilling a horizontal multi-frack well at Dawson.
In 2005, we completed the first unconventional multi-fractured horizontal well in Canada and ushered in a new era of natural gas production. The application of this method proved to be a game changer for our company and the industry. Where our vertical wells historically produced approximately 1 MMcf/day, drilling a horizontal well would allow us to produce up to 5 MMcf/day thanks to multi-stage fracking.
As a result, we changed how we drilled, fracked, and completed our wells and began drilling further to achieve higher productivity and enhanced profitability.
Over the years, our commitment to operational excellence has led to significant improvements in design and process, and the application of new technology has allowed us to drill and complete wells faster and produce more efficiently. While our first horizontal well took 16 days to drill, by improving our development plans, technology and processes we can now drill four times the length in the same timeframe and access substantially greater reserves from the same surface footprint. Our first horizontal well was fracked with five stages. Today, we can do up to 100 frack stages depending on the length of the well.
Our efforts at Dawson over the last 20 years have also focused on improving our environmental performance. In 2011, we began the electrification of Dawson I and II by connecting our facilities to the BC provincial power grid, which is largely powered by clean hydroelectricity. This enhancement enabled us to avoid approximately 75,000 tCO2e/year. In 2023, we plan to continue this work and fully electrify our Dawson III and IV facilities which we estimate will further reduce emissions by approximately 125,000 tCO2e/year.
To-date, three of six of our facilities in northeast BC are fully electrified which has led to approximately 275,000 tCO2e avoided per year – the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road. The investments we have made, combined with access to renewable electricity, have resulted in assets that deliver industry-leading, low-emissions production.
With an inventory of ~500 top-tier future development locations and 300 MMcf/day of processing capacity at Dawson, this world-class asset will continue to drive us forward for another 20+ years. Today, Dawson produces roughly 2.0 per cent of Canada’s total annual natural gas production and accounts for approximately 40 per cent of our total natural gas production.
It took many talented individuals and committed teams and partners to reach one Tcf in production. Through the continued efforts of our people, we look forward to celebrating two Tcf within the next decade.
Thank you to our asset and field team members – past and present – for your contributions to achieve this significant milestone.