Stratigraphic Architecture of a Large-scale Point-bar Complex in the McMurray Formation: Syncrude’s Mildred Lake Mine, Alberta, Canada
Thomas R. Nardin, Howard R. Feldman, B. Joan Carter, 2013. "Stratigraphic Architecture of a Large-scale Point-bar Complex in the McMurray Formation: Syncrude’s Mildred Lake Mine, Alberta, Canada", Heavy-oil and Oil-sand Petroleum Systems in Alberta and Beyond, Frances J. Hein, Dale Leckie, Steve Larter, John R. Suter
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Canada’s largest bitumen resource is contained within the McMurray Formation, a complex deepening-upward fluvial-estuarine succession typified by abrupt facies changes, inclined stratal geometries, and high-relief unconformities. Within this succession, fluvial-estuarine point-bar reservoirs represent a significant fraction of the resource that can be developed through surface mining and in-situ thermal recovery processes such as steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). At Syncrude Canada Ltd.’s Mildred Lakemine, closely spaced core-hole data are tied to high-wall exposures of a point-bar succession that is 55m (180 ft) thick and occupies an area of at least 15 km2 (6 mi2). Data are integrated using two 3-D visualization tools: light detection and ranging (LIDAR), a laser technology that produces high-resolution digital terrain models of the outcrop, and LogVu3D, an application that displays large sets of geophysical logs in a 3-D volume. The point-bar model developed here describes sand body dimensions, stratal stacking patterns, lithofacies distributions, and mudstone heterogeneity at a variety of scales. A conceptual model of steam chamber growth in a heterogeneous point bar is presented that has implications for steam chamber definition, resource assessment, reservoir modeling, and development well planning.