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January 29, 2021 WotW - First Oil Well in Western Canada

This is the third post in a series describing how Resource Plays (basin-wide plays in which hydrocarbons are the continuous phase) have often driven development throughout the history of the Canadian oil and Gas industry. Links to the previous posts are provided at the bottom of the post.

Resource Play: Mudrock Oil (Second White Specks)

Discovery Well UWI: 100/14-29-001-30W4/00 (based on information from First Oil Well in Western Canada National Historic Site website:

Drilling/Completion Technology: Pre-Conventional (Cable Tool)

100/14-29-001-30W4/00 - First Oil Well in Western Canada shown in red.

As described in Smith (2010), the drilling operation took a year. The well had oil shows throughout with production beginning at a reputed 300 BOPD. But there was never any real confusion as to the source of the oil. Over a decade prior to the well spud, Dr. A. R. C. Selwyn, Director of the Geological Survey of Canada predicted that the oil came from Cretaceous shales, not the overlying hard siliceous stromatolites of the Precambrian Lewis Group.

Smith, 2010

The identification of a Cretaceous source was confirmed by Ted Link in a 1932 AAPG Bulletin article. G. S. Hume reiterated this observation in 1964. And this was corroborated by Allan and Creaney in 1991. And on it goes. The point being is that there is abundant evidence that the first oil well in Western Canada was a Second White Specks (2WS) oil well. A classic resource play.

Given that the well is from 1902, I can't show you a well log or many details. But I can provide a link to a WotW about a 2WS well over 500 km to the northeast. This modest beginning In Waterton was the entrée to a massive play that has yet to be fully tapped.

Next week, we go even further north than Central Alberta for the next driver in the WCSB oil and gas industry. You guessed it; the next big development was a mudstone hosted oil resource play.

I would like to thank Kirk Osadetz for kindly providing advice and references on the Second White Specks oil source at Oil City.


Allan, J. and Creaney, S., 1991. Oil Families of the Western Canada Basin. Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology

Vol. 39 (1991), No. 2. (June), Pages 107-122

Link, T, 1932. Oil Seepages in Belt Series of Rocky Mountains Near International Boundary. v. 16, no. 8, p. 786- 796.

Hume, G. S. 1964. Fault Structures in the Foothills and Eastern Rocky Mountains of Southern Alberta.

Journal of the Alberta Society of Petroleum Geologists. Vol. 5 (1957), No. 1. (January), Pages 11-11

Smith, T., 2010. Western Canada’s First Oil Discovery. GEO ExPro. V. 7, no. 4. [], accessed January 27, 2021.

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