Abstract

Devonian strata within the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin contain large reserves of oil and gas. These vast hydrocarbon reserves can be largely attributed to the occurrence of abundant mature, excellent to good quality Devonian source rocks. The Middle Devonian Elk Point Group contains several units with hydrocarbon potential including the Evie Formation in British Columbia, the Keg River Formation in northern Alberta, and the Winnipegosis Formation in east-central Alberta and southern Saskatchewan. Many of these are proven source rocks of oils occurring in Middle Devonian reservoirs. Elk Point Group potential source rocks contain a wide variety of organic matter types reflecting the diversity of their depositional environments. No hydrocarbons have been definitively linked to a Beaverhill Lake Group source rock but it is possible that such a unit is the source of Slave Point Formation reservoired oils in northwest Alberta. The Late Devonian Woodbend Group contains the Duvernay Formation, the most prolific Devonian source rock in the Alberta Basin. It is characterized by marine Type II/I organic matter with TOC contents up to 15% in immature samples and is the source of most oils in the Bashaw Reef Complex, the Rimbey-Meadowbrook Reef Trend, and in the Swan Hills Formation in Alberta. The stratigraphically equivalent Muskwa Formation in northern Alberta has a much lower hydrocarbon potential than the Duvernay Formation. Oils have been correlated to Winterburn Group source rocks within the Nisku Formation of east-central Alberta, Camrose Member/Nisku Formation of southern Alberta, and the time-equivalent Birdbear Formation of southeast Saskatchewan. Winterburn Group potential source rocks in central to southern Alberta can have high TOC contents (up to 15%) and contain Type I and Type II organic matter deposited in open marine to lagoonal palaeoenvironments. The Cynthia Member shale of the Nisku Formation in west-central Alberta, previously thought by some workers to be a source rock, is actually organic-lean. The underlying Bigoray Member is more organic-rich and may be a minor contributor to hydrocarbons in the West Pembina area. The Wabamun Group contains no regionally extensive potential source rocks. Almost all the oil generated from Devonian source rocks appears to have remained within Devonian-aged reservoirs and very little is biodegraded. In contrast, where Exshaw Formation sourced oil is found in Devonian reservoirs, such as in the Grosmont and Nisku formations in the vicinity of the Athabasca Mannville Group bitumen deposit (i.e. “Carbonate Trend”), it tends to be biodegraded.

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