Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion should be sent to the Society of Petroleum Engineers Office. Such discussions may be presented at the above meeting and, with the paper, may be considered for publication in one of the two SPE magazines.
During 1969, a stratigraphic test hole program was conducted on Melville Island in program was conducted on Melville Island in the Canadian Arctic. The purpose of the program was to explore for sulphur bearing program was to explore for sulphur bearing limestone caprock associated with salt domes. Two track-mounted seismic style drilling rigs were used to drill thirty-six holes to a maximum depth of 1000 feet.
In such a remote location and difficult environment, many transportation and support services were necessary that would not normally be required. Hercules type freighter aircraft were found to be the most efficient means of transporting exploration equipment into the Islands. Conventional tracked vehicles were quite suitable for surface transportation of the drilling equipment. Both a helicopter and a mixed wing aircraft were needed for personnel movements on and between the Islands.
Drilling in a permafrost environment presented unique problems which have not been presented unique problems which have not been extensively covered in the literature. The selection of the proper drilling fluid appears to be the most important consideration in planning a drilling program in permafrost areas. planning a drilling program in permafrost areas. Contrary to many widely publicized opinions, it does not appear that human or industrial activity has a serious or lasting effect on the ecology of the area.
In July of 1968, King Resources Company secured sulphur exploration permits covering approximately 880,000 acres in the Arctic Islands from the Canadian Federal Government. These permits were obtained after geological studies indicated an abundance of salt domes in the Sverdrup Basin which is centered in the Canadian Arctic. This basin bears a marked resemblance to the Gulf Coast Basin in that both contain large thicknesses of Mesozoic sediments and both have intrusive salt domes. The target in this venture was to find sulphur in limestone caprock associated with these domes. Preliminary economic studies were conducted which indicated that if sulphur reserves of the order of 20 million tons could be discovered at depths suitable for normal Frasch mining, the sulphur would be competitive on the world market.
Early in 1969, planning began for an exploration program.