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Well Spacing Modification Application

How to apply to modify the drainage unit/area or setback distance of oil or gas wells in Saskatchewan.


1. Guidance

A drainage unit is the subsurface area allocated to a vertical oil well completion or gas well completion for drilling and producing in order to maximize oil or gas recovery from a defined or miscellaneous pool. A drainage area is made up of the drainage units associated to a horizontal well completion based on set-back requirements. The Government of Saskatchewan's drainage unit/area and set-back requirements ensure long-term, equitable, and orderly development of resources while preventing reservoir damage.

In accordance with subsections 17(1)(a), (b) and (c) and section 27 of The Oil and Gas Conservation Act, an application for oil/gas well spacing modifications must be submitted and approved by the Minister of Energy and Resources before licensing a well completion that won't meet the well spacing minimum requirements. Typically, this occurs if additional wells are proposed within a drainage unit or if a well is being proposed that will not meet the setback requirements.

An application for well spacing modification can be made:

  • for a single well completion;
  • on a large scale, multiple well completions or lands;
  • as a test of a spacing modification;
  • to enlarge a drainage unit's size; or
  • reduce the regulated setback distances.

Well spacing modifications approved by the Ministry of Energy and Resources are available on the Minister's Order Bulletin Board. All archived Minister's Orders since 2005 can also be found on the bulletin board.


2. Eligibility

To apply for a well spacing modification authorization:

  • Have an Integrated Resource Information System (IRIS) account and the appropriate permissions assigned by your IRIS Security Administrator to submit a well spacing modification application.
  • The applicant must be the licensee (or a party authorized to act on behalf of a licensee) that is active/capable of having wells within the proposed area of the spacing change.
  • Applications must be made before licensing or completing a well.
  • In accordance with subsections 17(1)(a), (b) and (c) and section 27 of The Oil and Gas Conservation Act, an operator can apply to modify well spacing for one or more of the following reasons. Well spacing applications that do not meet at least one of these criteria will be rejected.
    • Recovery improvement.
    • Additional or fewer wells are necessary to provide the capability to drain a pool at a reasonable rate without adversely affecting the recovery from the pool.
    • The spacing is already sustainably established in the pool and the proposed spacing modifications are equal to or more restrictive than the established pool spacing.
  • All applications must include technical engineering arguments and analysis, as well as associated production, geological and other relevant engineering supporting data.
  • All applications must meet all The Oil and Gas Conservation Regulations, 2012, criteria for drainage units and clearly support the entirety of the area.
  • If required, the applicant must complete the Public Notice process (See Section 3) prior to making a submission. For more information see Public Notice Process for Oil and Gas Activities.

3. How To Apply

To apply for a well spacing modification

If the proposed spacing modification relates to horizontal oil wells, the Major or Minor form may be used depending on the information related to the reason for application:

  • Minor Form:
    • existing infrastructure inhibits proper development and standard inter-well set-backs cannot be met, but the intent is to maintain the well density of the Section/Area or;
    • the off-set wells meet the nominal set-back limits outlined in the table below (based on a one-year average of production), 

      Well Spacing Modification Table

    • the set-back violation is mitigated due to stratigraphic isolation.
    • If the application meets the criteria outlined above, the Well Spacing Modification Application–Minor form is to be used for application submission. The instructions and required attachments are listed on the form.
      Note: Public Notice is not required for wells that meet the criteria for a Minor Form Application Submission.

To apply for a reduced spacing as part of another application type

Log in to IRIS and complete the appropriate application process for authorization (EOR, Waterflood, etc.) and attach the required documents identified in Section 3 – How To Apply.
  • When applying for spacing modification within a previously approved project area associated to secondary/tertiary recovery (Waterflood/EOR), use Section 3 – How to Apply and submit the application of the type associated to the project the application is within (Application for Waterflood, Application for EOR). This does not apply when a spacing modification is requested as part of an EOR or Waterflood application, i.e. a company requests approval to Waterflood by conversion of 3 injections and adding two infill wells, in this case the application would speak to the injection and spacing request in the application while submitting only one application. Use the spacing modification forms in this instance only if all that is being applied for within the project is a spacing modification, include a brief discussion on the impacts the spacing will have on the existing project.
  • If applying to commingle, and it is being proposed to add a pool where a well completion may cause spacing requirements to not be met, include information related to Spacing Modification as per Section 3 – How to Apply as part of the Commingling Application.

Click on the link below to view the desired application webpages:


4. Apply


5. Further Information

Documents related to third-party engineering reports and seismic data can be attached as confidential. The application must have enough non-confidential information within it to adequately justify/explain the application. Confidential attachments are kept confidential and are only viewable to the Business Associate that applies and the ministry.

Note: If an authorization is associated to a project and additional reporting is required, that reporting will be set as an obligation on the project. Reporting requirements (timelines, details) related to what must be submitted within the report and the frequency of providing information will be part of the authorization documents provided in IRIS or in the approval wording itself. If additional reporting is required and the authorization is not associated to a project, the requirements related to what must be submitted within the report and the frequency will be part of the authorization documents provided in IRIS or in the approval wording itself.

Application Forms

Refer to the Directives and Guidelines below for details.

Other Links

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