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LGS Luncheon – February 2018


Unconventional Isn’t Easy

Trevor Casper
The pace of horizontal drilling in onshore plays far outpaces the drilling of conventional vertical and deviated wells in North America. This pace, combined with strategies like pad drilling and early industry and financing comments about “mining” for oil and gas, have contributed to a sense, in some circles, that well results are as consistent as widget making, and the work about as exciting.

In reality, “unconventional” plays are simply part of a long history of industry innovation that shows no signs of abating. Just as 3D seismic and subsequent developments in depth migration and imaging technology allowed for prospect development in deep water, sub-salt environments, so has the combination of horizontal drilling and modern, multi-stage fracture treatments allowed for economic recovery of hydrocarbons across a wider spectrum of lithology and rock parameters.

These different lithologies and play types have their origins in the same earth processes that have produced every other type of hydrocarbon prospect, and they bring with them the same variability and complexity of stratigraphy and structure. A full complement of applied geoscience is required to discover and evaluate these plays, to make investment decisions, and to drill successful wells. Good geoscience matters in this new world, as it always has.




Trevor Casper was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and aside from a two year stint in the Arctic town of Inuvik in the early 1970s, grew up in a couple of small towns in Saskatchewan. The second of those two towns was in northern Saskatchewan, which is dotted with gold and uranium mines. The earth science aspect of these industries appealed to him, and he entered the College of Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. He studied geological engineering, with a geophysics specialty, and received his bachelor’s degree from the U. of S. in 1986. He devoted the next three years of his life to a mix of graduate school, soccer playing, and downhill skiing. In 1989, a previous internship at Unocal Canada led to a full-time opportunity at the company, and he started his professional oil and gas career working in the western Canadian sedimentary basin. In 1992 he transferred to Unocal’s Gulf Coast office in Lafayette, where he thought he would remain for two or three years before returning to Calgary. That was a quarter-century ago.

Trevor worked development and exploration projects on the GOM shelf until Unocal closed the Lafayette office in 2001. He then worked GOM shelf and deepwater projects for Stone Energy until the end of 2006. At the end of that year he joined Marlin Energy. At the time, Marlin’s primary focus was the Gulf Coast, both shelf and onshore, but it also held assets in the Barnett shale and in the overthrust belt in far west Texas. In 2012 the company entered into the East Texas Woodbine and Eagle Ford trends. The onshore focus has required Trevor to learn a lot about the unconventional side of the business, though he still feels like he is just scratching the surface.


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