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Hydrocarbons at Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, Canada, are pooled in the Devonian Kee Scarp Formation limestone reef buildup which is 15 mi (25 km) long and 5 mi (8 km) wide. The reef complex began to develop during Upper Middle Devonian time on shale banks of the Hare Indian Formation. Minor variations in sea level localized major reef growth on a thin, open marine platform along basinward edges of the Hare Indian shales. Reef growth proceeded during two major shoaling-upward cycles and was terminated by the advancing clastic sediments of the Canol and Imperial Formations, which serve as the top seal for the reefal buildups. The Kee Scarp reef at Norman Wells attains a maximum thickness of 535 ft (160 m) with a reservoir thickness of 360 ft (110 m). The formation has been divided into four zones, named in ascending order: Kl, K2, K3, and K4. The Kl zone is interpreted as platform, and the K2-K4 zones as reefal buildup.

In 1920, Imperial Oil Limited drilled the discovery well for the Norman Wells field near oil seepages at Norman Wells 900 miles (1,500 km) north of Edmonton, Alberta. Oil is stratigraphically trapped in the extreme updip end of the reef buildup. There is no gas cap, and a limited water leg provides no fluid pressure support to assist in producing the oil.

The major development plan for producing a portion of the remaining oil at Norman Wells field is discussed in this paper. The plan is based on a recent synergistic geological and engineering study of the reservoir. Information from six oriented cores, well tests, fluid and pressure surveys, outcrop studies, and surface photos has shown that natural vertical fractures present in the reservoir have a strong N30° E orientation. The proposed development plan will make use of the geological and engineering model as well as the directional permeabilities resulting from natural fractures.

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