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Decision to Drill

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French version
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Length (feet): 
973 (16mm)
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Library and Archives Canada: 16mm.
"An explanation of the oil industry's search for profitable well sites employing the research of geologists, seismologists and the analysis of research laboratories. Oil geologists are shown at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains carrying out tests in the field. Rocks at the surface provide an indication of the rock layers and potential oil below. The men are flown by helicopter from base camp to the work camp often isolated for days with food and equipment ferried in by air. Seismic crews in other regions investigate prospective sites. The crews drill holes, load dynamite, then record the tiny earthquakes set off by the explosions using mobile recording equipment. The vibrations send shock waves through the earth which strike rock layers below and bounce back to the surface providing an indication of the formations. At the exploration headquarters information from the field is gathered and analysed by specialists including geologists, engineers, micropaleontologists, technicians and chemists. A contour map is developed from this information indicating the geological structure where oil may be trapped. Conferences are held to determine whether a promising area should be further explored. If the decision is yes, a 'wildcat' well is drilled to search for the oil. The well is drilled around the clock with samples of rock cuttings analysed by a geologist at the site throughout the drill. In the lab, samples are tested for tiny microfossils of prehistoric sea life. The wildcat well shown in the film was a failure at an expense of one million dollars and more than a year's work. Only one wildcat well in 240 will discover oil in commercial quantities and only one in 640 finds a major oil field such as Leduc, Redwater or Golden Spike. Dry holes are not considered a complete waste since the information yeilded is retained and used for future drills."

"Film au sujet des recherches entreprises pour découvrin des nappes d'huile et de gaz naturel : le travail des géologues et des équipes de prospection sismique jusqu'à ce que soit prise la décision de creuser."

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta: 16mm.
"A film about the people who search and drill for oil and natural gas in western Canada. It tells of the lone geologist in the mountains; the surveyor, cutting through the virgin bush; of the seismic crews who chart rock formations deep beneath the earth's crust; finally, of the drillers with their multi-ton rigs."
From the Catalogue of 16mm Educational Motion Pictures. Published by the Educational Media Division, Department of Extension, University of Alberta, Edmonton, 1967.


National Film Board of Canada, Films by Other Producers Distributed in Canada by the National Film Board of Canada/Films de divers producteurs distribués au Canada par l’Office national du film du Canada (Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, c.1968), 6, 10.
"An introduction to some of the detective work that precedes the decision to spend a possible million dollars on drilling for oil."

"Notre monde moderne a une soif insatiable de pétrole. Mais tout commence par le travail long, patient, souvent décourageant, des prospecteurs. Voici leurs efforts, avant de découvrir la nappe souterraine qui justifiera les énormes investissements de l'exploitation pétrolière."