With the development of unconventional resources, the large number and high density of well data in the deep/distal part of sedimentary basins offer new avenues for petroleum system analysis. Gas geochemistry is a widespread and inexpensive data that can provide invaluable information to better understand unconventional plays. This paper illustrates the use of early production gas composition as a proxy for in-situ hydrocarbon phase distribution in the Montney play of westernmost Alberta and northeastern British Colombia. We demonstrate that a careful stratigraphic allocation of the landing zone of horizontal wells is a key step to a meaningful interpretation and mapping of gas geochemical data. The regional mapping of the dryness of early production gas from the Montney formation clearly delineate thermal maturity windows that are consistent with available carbon isotopic data from produced and mud gas. Integrating this mapping with pressure and temperature data also highlights gas migration fairways that are likely influenced by major structural elements and compartmentalization of the basin. In the wet gas window, reported condensate-gas ratios show that the liquid recovery from multi-stage fractured horizontal wells is highly variable and strongly influenced by variations in reservoir quality and stimulation design. Understanding in-situ fluid distribution can help narrow down the number of variables and identifying key controls on liquid recovery. Several examples combining produced and mud gas data illustrate the use of geochemistry to better constrain geological and operational controls on productivity and liquids recovery in the Montney play.


With the rapid development of unconventional resources, a wealth of new data has been released from historically undrilled or poorly documented portions of sedimentary basins. The large number and high density of well data over extended areas of deep/distal parts of these basins offer invaluable information and new perspectives for petroleum system analysis. In the Montney play of Western Canada, the distal unconventional part of the basin covers an area of approximately 65,000 square kilometers and has been penetrated by over 7,000 horizontal wells. Due to sustained low gas price in North America over the past decade, most of the industry activity has been focused on the liquids-rich gas and light oil fairways of this resource play. Production data show that although a broad liquids-rich fairway can be defined at the basin scale, local variations of fluid distribution and reservoir quality strongly affect the liquid recovery from horizontal wells. The geochemical compositions of both produced gas and mud gas provide a powerful tool to investigate those variations, their geological controls and their impact on well performance. While this paper focuses on the fluid distribution, numerous studies have documented the influence of reservoir quality on the liquid recovery in the Montney play (Chatellier and Perez, 2016; Kato et al., 2018; Akihisia et al., 2018; Iwuoha et al., 2018).

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