New Well Licensing: Blueberry River First Nations (BRFN) Agreement Opens Up Industry Activity

The Blueberry River First Nations (BRFN) and B.C. government announced a historic agreement in January setting out a framework that guides future industrial development on BRFN traditional land claims.

The agreement ensures Blueberry River members can meaningfully exercise their Treaty 8 rights and provides stability and predictability for industry (DOB article January 18, 2023). Uncertainty still exists on next steps, but the BC Energy Regulator (BCER) has started approving well locations and the industry has returned to operating in the claim area. The BCER started approving new wells in August 2022 when a deal with BRFN appeared imminent. There were 308 well licences approved between August and when the deal was announced on Jan. 18, 2023. From Jan. 19 to Feb. 23, an additional 239 well licences were approved. Click here to see where all new well licences have been approved, both before and after the deal announcement — this visualized data is instantly available free of charge to guest users of geoLOGIC’s gDC Cloud.

The top five operators, by well count, that received well licences prior to the BRFN deal announcement were: ARC Resources (98), Ovintiv (53), Tourmaline (47), Murphy (39) and CNRL (23). Post announcement, the top five operators receiving well licence approvals are: Petronas (90), Tourmaline (58), Pacific Canbriam (31), CNRL (20) and Crew (12).

Almost all the well licences targeted the Montney formation and were designated as development wells. The approvals were predominantly in existing fields and on new well pads.

Of the 308 wells that were licensed in the almost six months prior to the Jan. 18 announcement, 58 wells were spud and 12 wells have been put on production (see charts below). The cumulative production from all 12 wells is 278,416 boe (2022-11 to 2023-01).

Ovintiv drilled the highest performing well. The 100/16-30-079-17W6/00 well had cumulative production of 56,338 boe and 313,849 mcf of gas (2022-11 to 2023-01). Details of the Ovintiv well, with respect to drilling, completion and production history, can be accessed in gDC Cloud, click here to view.


Having the Blueberry River First Nations deal in place gives industry the certainty needed to commit to capital in key development areas in B.C. The BCER will undoubtedly be under pressure to process a substantial number of applications for well locations, plants, gathering lines and facilities that were backlogged due to the shut down after the B.C. Supreme Court decision in late June 2021.

There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel and an industry that is ready to seize the opportunity.

Bruce Hancock is Director, Technical Advisory Group, at geoLOGIC systems ltd. He has over 40 years’ experience in oil and gas exploration, development and production.

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