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Imperial Oil Company, now Imperial Oil, LTD, is the 2nd largest integrated oil company in Canada; its retail outlets are called, Esso. Standard Oil of New Jersey, then, Exxon Mobil now, owns 69% of Imperial. Imperial was a tenacious group of oil explorers in Western Canada after World War II and drilled 133 dry holes in a row throughout the Alberta province before making its first significant oil discovery in Leduc, about 40 miles south of Edmonton, in 1947. Leduc County is in the Turner Valley and was an already well established oil productive region in Alberta.

The head of Imperial's geological department during this tenure of dry holes was a fella named, Ted Link. Somebody must have had a lot of faith in the guy. Leduc No. 1, was also known as Imperial No. 134 and it was the company's last well before pulling the plug on Alberta.

Imperial must not have been very confident in its last ditch effort as it brought in a fella named Vern "Dry Hole" Hunter to engineer the well. When Imperial made a well Hunter was quoted as saying he was so used to plugging wells he almost forgotten how to complete the damn thing. {1} {2}

The Leduc discovery was based on two dimensional seismic data along some sort of shelf margin. It found some really juicy Devonian aged reefs (Nisku Formation) with enormous vugular porosity at 5,035 feet and the well drill stem tested something like 300 BOPD.

After setting production casing Imperial set up a big "coming out party," so to speak, to show off it's new discovery. That seemed the logical thing to do after 133 straight dry holes. It was February.

And estimated 500 people from all over Alberta were invited out to the Leduc Discovery party.

The plan was to swab the well in the day before the party but shit broke down (Canada's oilfield is just like ALL oilfields), and these poor folks that came to the party stood around most of the day freezing their asses off waiting for something to happen. By 4:00 PM the well started flowing and what was left of the crowd witnessed Canadian history.

The Leduc 1 well produced until 1974, made 317,000 BO and the Leduc-Woodbend Oil Field went on to produce approximately 300MM BO from similar Devonian reef-like zones.

Leduc No. 1 during DST

Subsequent development of Leduc-Woodbend Field throughout 1947 led to one big mama-jama of a blowout and that story is in the works at Oily Stuff. Please standby.


{1} The Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology (September, 1980)

{2} Atlantic No. 3; S.A Kerr, 1986

The Leduc... Oil Kings, naturally.

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