Chapter 10: Review of Geology of a Giant Carbonate Bitumen Reservoir, Grosmont Formation, Saleski, Alberta
Kent R. Barrett, J. C. Hopkins, 2010. "Review of Geology of a Giant Carbonate Bitumen Reservoir, Grosmont Formation, Saleski, Alberta", Heavy Oils: Reservoir Characterization and Production Monitoring, Satinder Chopra, Laurence R. Lines, Douglas R. Schmitt, Michael L. Batzle
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The Grosmont Formation is an Upper Devonian carbonate succession that is present in northeastern Alberta. It contains 318 billion barrels of bitumen on the basis of Alberta government estimates (Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, 1996). Figure 1 is a map of the interpreted bitumen resource on the basis of Energy Resources Conservation Board mapping. This map also shows the location of Laricina Energy’s Saleski land block in the heart of the bitumen accumulation. During the winters of 2006–2007 and 2007–2008, Laricina Energy drilled 21 vertical wells for the purposes of bitumen resource delineation. In addition, one horizontal well was drilled as part of a proposed steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) pilot.
The Grosmont Formation is a 120-m thick carbonate succession that is sandwiched between shales of the Upper and Lower Ireton Formation within the Woodbend Group. It has been subdivided chronologically into the A, B, C, and D units. These subdivisions correspond to Cutler’s (1983) units LG, G1, G2, and G3, respectively. The lowermost three units were deposited during shallowing-upward depositional cycles. The uppermost unit, the Grosmont D, is an aggradational depositional unit. Grosmont strata dip gently to the southwest. The Grosmont has been bevelled by erosion in an easterly direction.
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Heavy oil is an important global resource with reserves comparable to those of conventional oil. As conventional resources get thinner, attention is being focused on heavy oil and bitumen, which hold the promise of becoming useful fuels. Already more than 1 million barrels of oil are being produced from the oil sands in Canada; heavy oil represents half of California’s crude oil production in the United States and is a major production in Mexico. With demand for global energy soaring, heavy oil will undoubtedly be an important resource to be exploited in a big way in the near future.
The SEG Development and Production Committee held its Heavy Oil Forum in Edmonton, Alberta, in July 2007. This was a joint research forum cosponsored by the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG) and SEG and hosted by the University of Alberta. Preceding the forum, a field trip took the participants to the vast Athabasca Oil Sands region where they observed the outcrops, open pit mining, and steam injection operations, followed by a tour of the steam-assisted gravity drainage projects. Topics of the well-attended forum included the definition of heavy oil; where is heavy oil found; how it is produced; heavy-oil reservoir characterization; fluid and rock properties; electrical, tilt, and gravity techniques; borehole, surface seismic measurements; and microseismicity.