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Well of the Week – A carbonate is a carbonate by any other age?

I know. I know. Many of you will point out that in the kick-off to this Petro NinjaEnlighten Geoscience Well of the Week series on the New Golden Age of Carbonates I made a big deal about how the Paleozoic was the home for big carbonate plays. So why am I concluding the series by discussing a Mesozoic formation? Well, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.". And, more importantly, the Charlie Lake is, regardless of age, a carbonate reservoir and one of the most financially rewarding plays in North America regardless of the lithology.

The financial robustness of this play prompted it to be the sole focus of a recent Top Well Report. (In a way you are kind of getting 15 Wells of the Week for the price of one!). The financial metrics of these 15 wells and the play in general are manifested by the currently producing series of 965 wells (as displayed in Figure 1).

Figure 1. Charlie Lake horizontals and lithofacies. (After Edwards et al., 1994). N. B. Facies 1: Variably interbedded, red and varicoloured siltstone, sandstone and shale, evaporitic and dolomitic; grading upward to interbedded dolomite and anhydrite, silty, argillaceous and locally sandy, Facies 2: Siltstone and sandstone, gray and brown, locally porous, dolomitic and slightly calcareous; underlain by silty, argillaceous dolomite; minor anhydrite throughout, Facies 3: Sandstone and siltstone, varicoloured, argillaceous, locally porous, dolomitic in part.

Is there really as much room to expand this play as the regional mapping suggests? A number of the wells have significantly lower water cut. Is there a way to identify those drilling locations? (Spoiler: Of course, there is).

To end on a philosophical note, when we are in the midst of a historical period , some events are attention grabbing. And others simmer below the surface. In this allegory, the Nisku and Charlie Lake are the analogue of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The significance of these plays is readily apparent. Other opportunities are just cresting over the horizon. For some, the ingredients are there but the time just isn’t right. And then there are the ones that possibly represent the future.

All thanks to our carbonate friends.


Edwards, D. E., Barclay, J. E., Gibson, D. W. , Kvill, G. E. and Halton, E. (1994): Triassic Strata; in Geological Atlas of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, G.D. Mossop and I. Shetsen (comp.), Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists and Alberta Research Council, URL, [04/26/2020].


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