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Revised Utica Assessment Says Questerre Holds 5.8 Tcf in Quebec

Questerre Energy Corp., which explores in Quebec’s Utica Shale within the St. Lawrence Lowlands, said independent engineers estimate that some of the company's resources in the play are 30% larger than previously thought.

The Calgary-based company said Wednesday a resource assessment conducted by GLJ Petroleum Consultants found the best estimate of Questerre's net unrisked prospective resources at the end of 2016 are 5.8 Tcf, or 965 million boe. That represents a 30% increase over a separate assessment conducted by Netherland, Sewell & Associates Inc. at the end of 2010, which issued a best estimate of 4.4 Tcf, or 738 million boe.

The company said the recent assessment by GLJ calculated the best estimate of un-isked contingent resources net to Questerre totaled 898 Bcf, or 150 billion boe. Netherland did not conduct a similar assessment in 2010 "due to the high uncertainty of economic potential at that time," Questerre said.

Questerre's exploration efforts are concentrated on 735,910 gross acres prospective to the Utica in Quebec.

Last December, the province passed legislation creating a hydrocarbon development regulatory regime. The government, led by the Quebec Liberal Party, also rejected an amendment that called for a ban against horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

"After the new legislation was passed in December, we updated the resource assessment for our natural gas discovery in the Quebec Utica," said CEO Michael Binnion. "The equivalent Ohio Utica in the United States has seen astonishing success using new technology.

"Resources on our acreage have now only been assigned to the Upper Utica interval which is producing in Ohio and Pennsylvania, compared to the entire Utica interval in our previous assessment. Most importantly, the assessment supports that with the new technology, our discovery has strong economic potential."

According to GLJ, Questerre's share of recoverable prospective resources ranges from a low estimate of 3.5 Tcf to a high estimate of 9.7 Tcf. The firm said there was an 81% chance of discovery and a 19% chance of development. GLJ said its best estimate for discovered petroleum initially in-place (PIIP) in the Upper Utica totaled 15.2 Tcf, while a best estimate for undiscovered PIIP in the formation was 78.9 Tcf. GLJ's best estimate for undiscovered PIIP in the Lower Utica totaled 29.9 Tcf.

Questerre said the PIIP figures were calculated probabilistically on a permit basis with estimates of 45-145 Bcf per square mile for the Upper Utica.

"This compares favorably to analogous U.S. shale plays with estimates of the Utica in Ohio at between 35 to 85 Bcf per square mile and 25 to 150 Bcf per square mile for the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania," Questerre said in its statement Wednesday. "Of the total PIIP estimated over the company's acreage, only land within a three-mile radius of a successfully tested well was quantified as discovered gas-in-place.

"Based on this qualification, only 16% of the total mapped PIIP in the Upper Utica was considered discovered contingent resource."

Binnion said the company is "currently assessing low population density regions in Quebec that are most suitable for a pilot." But Questerre added that "[although] pilot horizontal development plans have been proposed, the project evaluation scenario for the contingent resources is not sufficiently defined to make an investment decision to proceed to development."

Canadian petroleum engineering firms estimate the commercial gas production potential of Quebec's Utica layer ranges from 3.5-18 Tcf. The deposits are believed to include liquid byproducts such as gasoline-like condensate and propane. Meanwhile, the Macasty Shale, on oily formation underlying Quebec's Anticosti Island, is estimated to contain 20-45 billion bbl of oil.

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