top of page

You're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

This article is part 2 of a series. Part 1: The Circle of Life (in the Canadian Oil Patch) discusses some of the causes of the employment crisis in the Canadian oil patch and may be found here.

Like mammals at the end of the Mesozoic, there are a few junior companies finding a way to survive and grow in this new reality. In this post I'll elaborate on three examples and something they have in common, as well as some interesting differences.

Deltastream Energy Corporation and Spur Petroleum Ltd. have created a lot of buzz by opening up the Marten Hills Clearwater Heavy Oil Play. A BOE Report article by Andrew Bizon summarizing the play may be found here: All Is Not Doom And Gloom In The Junior Sector. These companies have shown that startups can make a go of it with the right play. But the Upper Mannville Heavy Oil story isn't limited to the Clearwater or the Oil Sands Lease Area.

Altura Energy Inc. has shown that there is potential in the Rex Member as well. Altura's find is not just stratigraphically separate but many kilometres distant as well. The results are impressive, as shown by this slide from the Altura October 2019 Corporate Presentation:

  • The built their companies "through the drillbit"

  • They found new reserves in areas abandoned by others

  • They applied innovative thinking and detailed work to interpret the geology and develop the leads

  • They employed technologically advanced engineering tools to access the resource

And if they can do it, so can others.

This post could have been called "OMG, there is a LOT of oil in the Upper Mannville."

The Alberta Energy Regulator's Resource Summary and Tables (romantically referred to as ST98) tabulates 1.8 T bbls of bitumen in the Upper Mannville (hat tip to Bob Lee for the reference). That much bitumen must have left a significant amount of oil along the migration pathways. The NEB hints at this by identifying a total Upper Mannville Heavy Oil Resource of 474.2 million cubic meters (2.98 billion bbls) of oil in place. This endowment includes 158.2 million cubic meters (993.5 million bbls) in 3,268 Undiscovered Pools.

That is a lot of opportunity for innovative thinkers to exploit. And that is just the Upper Mannville. Heavy oil opportunities abound. We work in an amazing basin, so it is up to us. The Great White lurking in the waters is massive. But maybe we don't need a bigger boat. Maybe we need lots of smaller boats to make it happen.

I will suggest some tools intrepid mariners might be able to make use of in Part 3: The Voyage Home.


Altura Energy Corporate Presentation, 2019. Accessed: October 27, 2019.

Bizon, A., 2019. All Is Not Doom And Gloom In The Junior Sector. BOE Report. accessed October 27, 2019.

National Energy Board, 2001. Conventional Heavy Oil Resources of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. Accessed October 27, 2019.

Pinckston, R., 2018. Case Study of a Large Conventional Oil Pool Discovery in a Mature Basin: the Upper Mannville of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. 2018 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE). Accessed: October 27, 2019.

Recent Posts
bottom of page