Abstract

The 225 bcf (original gas in place [OGIP]) Parkland A pool was discovered in 1956 with the drilling of Imperial Pacific 6-29-81-15w6. This well initially production tested at 19 mmcf gas/day and has produced more than 95 bcf of sweet gas. The Parkland play type (as defined by the Geological Survey of Canada) consists principally of fracture-associated hydrothermally karsted and dolomitized reservoirs hosted in the Upper Devonian (Famennian) Wabamun Group medial ramp carbonates resting on the axis of the Peace River arch and includes major fields such as Tangent, Teepee, and Gold Creek. Ironically Parkland itself owes little of its production to hydrothermally dolomitized carbonates; instead, most of the reservoir pore volume can be attributed to microintercrystalline porosity within a pervasive replacement microquartz (chert) that occurs at the dolomite-limestone interface. The thickness of this chert zone in the 6-29 well is 35 m and occurs near the top of the Wabamun.

The origin of the chert is problematic. It postdates matrix dolomitization and crosscuts the early Tournaisian (Mississippian) Exshaw Ash but is in turn truncated by later saddle dolomite and calcite veins. The replacement chert is composed of a microporous (up to 30%) meshwork of microquartz crystals averaging 5-10 μm in size and is texturally distinct from early diagenetic chert nodules also found in the Wabamun. The two cherts are also distinguishable isotopically, with the replacement microquartz showing significantly more depleted oxygen values (22 vs. 25 δ18O standard mean ocean water [SMOW]), consistent with precipitation from hot fluids having a temperature range from about 140 to 200°C. Silicification has had the greatest impact on slightly dolomitized limestone at the outer margin of the hydrothermal dolostone pod. Entrapped floating euhedral crystals of dolomite within the replacement chert show little evidence of microdissolution, suggesting that the silicic acid-charged fluid, although undersaturated with respect to the microspar lime matrix, was saturated with respect to dolomite. We postulate that hydrothermal fluids of common parentage, only marginally evolved in composition-if at all, were responsible for both dolomitization and silicification. Both replacement processes occurred in relatively rapid succession at shallow burial depths and were related to an early Tournaisian period of hydrothermal activity associated with both wrench and minor extension structuring linked with the nascent development of the Fort St. John graben. The source of the silica is thought to be the immediately subjacent Granite Wash or possibly the Precambrian basement. Stratigraphic proximity to the Granite Wash is likely a prerequisite condition for chert reservoir development within the Wabamun and serves to explain, along with significantly different hydrothermal fluid temperatures (much hotter to the west), why Parkland is such a distinct field compared to Tangent and Teepee.

Hydrocarbon reservoirs that are dominantly chert-hosted are relatively uncommon, but where recognized (e.g., Monterey Formation, California) they are related to the redistribution and transformation of biogenic opal-A silica derived from diatoms, spicules, and/or radiolarians in deeper water sediments. To our knowledge, Parkland is the only hydrothermal chert reservoir that has been reported anywhere in the world.

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