Well of the Week – I know it’s only Nordegg oil, but I like it.

I remember reading, in the aftermath of John Lennon’s assassination, a quote attributed to Mick Jagger. As I recall, it read: “The surprise isn’t that the Beatles broke up. It is that the Rolling Stones didn’t”.

This Petro NinjaEnlighten Geoscience Well of the Week is, sensu stricto, about 100/15-05-066-24W5/00. Isn’t it well worth focusing an unstimulated vertical well that produced over 45,000 m3 of 17 API oil from a shale? It didn’t hurt that this well is, at 14.4 kPa/m, overpressured, but this is still an unexpected success. Surely 15-5 was a precursor of resource play glory to come.

A decade ago, when we were all excited about the potential of “shale” plays, Rokosh et al. (2012) enumerated the potential in Alberta’s shale plays. They catalogued the resource endowment for 3 relatively advanced plays:

· Duvernay

· Muskwa

· Montney

And a preliminary analysis for another 3 plays:

· Basal Banff/Exshaw

· North Nordegg

· Wilrich

Two of the former group (Duvernay and Montney) and one of the latter (Wilrich) have developed into mainstays of Alberta’s resource play portfolio. But outside of a tangle of oil wells at Clear Prairie, a trio of uninspiring wells at La Glace and a gas well at Kakwa, nothing really developed from the remainder of this opportunity.

Not every play works out of course but looking back it is more than a bit surprising that the north Nordegg was a bust. The Nordegg would seem to have it all: high TOC, thermal maturity and thick net shale (see Figures 1 through 3).

Figure 1. Histogram of north Nordegg Total Organic Carbon samples. Rokosh et al. (2012).

Figure 2. Thermal maturity map of the north Nordegg. Rokosh et al. (2012).

Figure 2. Net shale isopach map of the north Nordegg. Rokosh et al. (2012).

Or, to paraphrase Charlie Watt’s singer, the surprising thing isn’t that the Duvernay, Montney and Wilrich worked, it is that the Nordegg didn’t. Perhaps it is time to revisit the Nordegg.


Rokosh, C.D., Lyster, S., Anderson, S.D.A., Beaton, A.P., Berhane, H., Brazzoni, T., Chen, D., Cheng, Y., Mack, T., Pana, C. and Pawlowicz, J.G. (2012): Summary of Alberta's shale- and siltstone-hosted hydrocarbon resource potential; Energy Resources Conservation Board, ERCB/AGS Open File Report 2012-06, 327 p. https://static.ags.aer.ca/files/document/OFR/OFR_2012_06.pdf [accessed: 05-18-2022].

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