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Location: About 50 km south of Fort St. John, British Columbia

Products: Sales gas (methane), natural gas liquids and condensate

  • Sales gas (methane) is used for heating homes and offices
  • Natural gas liquids (NGL) include propane, butane and ethane. Propane is sold to domestic and United States distributors for heating, crop drying, auto fuel and petrochemical feedstock. Butane is shipped to refineries where is used as a gasoline blending component and as a fuel in products such as butane lighters and curling irons. Ethane is shipped by pipeline to petrochemical plants where it is used as a "building block" for a variety of chemicals and plastics.
  • Condensate is used by refineries to produce gasoline and diesel fuel

Facilities: Shell’s Groundbirch venture includes facilities for water and fluid handling, oil batteries and gas processing.

Staff: The facility employs an average of 150 employees and contractors in the Fort St. John office and field, with an additional daily average of 100-300 field contractors.

Contact Information: 1-888-384-6465

  • You probably think of natural gas as the fuel that heats your home and cooks your food, but did you know that natural gas comprises almost one-fourth of all energy used in the United States and nearly half of all energy used in Canada?
  • North American has enough natural gas to provide more than 100 years of supply at current consumption rates. 
  • Natural gas serves roughly 5 million businesses, 207,000 factories, 65 million homes, 1,800 electric generating units in North America.

Groundbirch is an unconventional shale or ‘tight gas’ asset. Tight gas refers to reservoirs where gas is contained in dense rock and cannot flow freely. The tight gas formation in the area lies in a wide layer of siltstone, sandstone and shale some 2,073 to 2,316 metres (6,800 to 7,800 feet) below ground. In order to produce this gas, hydraulic fracturing is used to crack the reservoir rock and create man-made fractures, which allows the gas to flow at commercial rates.

Drilling: Where appropriate, Shell uses a combination of vertical and horizontal and vertical drilling technology to minimize our footprint. Using this approach, a number of wells can be drilled from a single surface location or pad to access gas over one kilometre down. By using multi-well pad drilling, we can significantly reduce our surface footprint by building fewer well pads and therefore needing fewer access roads and pipeline rights-of-ways.

Hydraulic Fracturing:

  • In certain formations where oil and gas are trapped very tightly in tiny pores (rather than accumulated in more porous rock), if we simply drill through the rock the oil and gas will not flow easily, making it difficult to extract enough oil and gas to make the well economical. After we drill a ‘tight’ oil and gas well, to increase production, we stimulate the oil and gas flow from the formation using a technique called hydraulic fracturing.
  • Hydraulic fracturing is a proven technique used since the late 1940’s in many kinds of oil and gas wells. Advances in drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies have allowed us to use this same technology in tight oil and gas and shale oil and gas formations. After drilling the well, a tool called a perforator is lowered into the casing and lined up precisely within the subsurface formation using tools such as seismic images, well logs, global positioning systems and other indicators to target the oil and gas bearing formations.

Visit our How We Operate section to learn more about Shell Canada’s disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluid information.

The Life of an Onshore Well: Finding and Producing Tight or Shale Gas & Oil

See the full life cycle of a tight or shale gas or oil well. We walk through planning and building a pad, exploring for oil and gas, developing a location and producing oil or gas. You'll see how we drill and hydraulically fracture a tight oil or gas well, and what a producing pad typically looks like once drilling is complete. 

Over the last decade, we have expanded our North American onshore natural gas portfolio, using advances in proven technology to tap rich resources of previously inaccessible "tight" gas, including gas locked in shale formations.

The Groundbirch Development Chain – From the Ground to Your Home

The Development Chain process chart explains our development chain at Groundbirch, from seismic testing in exploration to natural gas production and distribution into your home.

Our approach to water: recycling and storage

  • Protecting and managing water are important issues for both Shell and the community
  • We are looking for innovative ways to reduce the amount of water we use for our activities to minimize impacts 
  • We are minimizing the use of fresh water by recycling and reusing water from our processing plants and gas wells – we currently recycle over 90 percent of our flowback water and 70-80% of all the water that flows back to surface
  • We have built  two water storage and recycling facilities; with a 3rd under construction at Gundy
  • Our produced water ponds are covered by nets to deter birds and wildlife
  • We also build pipelines to distribute the water throughout our field (will minimize traffic (HSE and air emissions), noise and dust)
  • At Brassey, we use 7000m3 to frac one well and it all flows back over time; through pipeline use we prevent 460 truckloads from being on the road 
  • The pipeline option is expected to eliminate 3 million km a year in truck trips over the course of full field development.
  • At Shell, we place top priority on the safety of our employees, protecting the communities where we operate and the environment. Our strong safety record is built on strict company standards, multiple required safety barriers and proven operating methods.
  • Shell’s onshore tight sand or shale oil and gas operations comply with federal, state and provincial regulations, and in many cases, our design criteria and operating procedures exceed those standards. 
  • We believe our practices are among the most comprehensive in the industry. For every project, we develop a thorough “HSSE case” (health, safety, security and environment), making sure health, safety and environmental risks are identified and addressed.

The Groundbirch Gazette

The Groundbirch Gazette is the bi-annual Shell newsletter for northeast B.C. featuring Shell stories from the Groundbirch area.

Rural Roots & Resources Community Advisory Group

Rural Roots & Resources, a B.C. based synergy group, is a collaborative process between Shell and community members. The intention is to work together as a team to face and address the issues and challenges associated with the development of Shell’s projects in the Groundbirch area.

For more information, please call 1-888-384-6465.