On Wednesday , July 16th , Junex announced that it has recently commenced its 2008-09 exploration program that foresees the investment of about
$10 million in the St. Lawrence Lowlands over the next 18 months. The exploration operations undertaken by Junex are aimed at evaluating the natural gas potential of shales in the Lorraine and Utica formations as well as the natural gas potential of the Trenton-Black River. Currently, Junex is drilling the St. Antoine-sur-Richelieu No. 1 well near Contrecoeur, 55 km northeast of Montreal. The well is now at a depth of 471 m and the anticipated total depth of the well is 1,200 m.
The company is partnering with Denver-based Forest Oil (FST), which will later decide whether to spend another $4 million on drilling. Junex is also
currently drilling the St-Augustin-de-Desmaures #1 well that is situated about 20 km from Quebec City to test shale deposits.
The Quebec shale play, which involves drilling for gas by fracturing dense rock, focuses on an area south of the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City.
Interest has grown in the region since April, when Forest Oil Corp., a Denver-based oil and gas company, announced a significant discovery there after testing two vertical wells.
Forest Oil said its Quebec assets may hold as much as four trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, and that the Utica shale has similar rock properties to the Barnett shale in Texas - the largest U.S. onshore gas field.
Quebec has been known to have natural gas reserves, but advanced horizontal drilling techniques and higher gas prices are now only making the play potentially economically viable, observers say.
Forest Oil, which has several junior partners in the region, will drill three horizontal wells in Quebec this summer. It has targeted its first production for next year, and full-scale drilling for 2010
Montreal-based Gastem ( GMR on Vancouver )is partnered with Forest Oil, Questerre
( QEC on Toronto ) and Epsilon Energy Ltd. in the Yamaska permit of the St. Lawrence lowlands.
An important catalyst for Gastem's stock could come from results of the drilling of two of Forest Oil's wells this summer, Mr. Vallance said. Forest's third well is in partnership with Junex Inc.