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Exploration Strategy in Keg River Carbonates of Northwestern Alberta, Canada

Hamid A. Majid

The analysis of reservoir quality and seal capacity of the Middle Devonian Keg River carbonate reservoirs in northwestern Alberta requires facies studies of rock units of the Keg River Formation and of the overlying Muskeg and Sulphur Point formations. Using lithologic criteria, faunal type, and stratigraphic positions, the entire sequence is subdivided into ten major facies. The system used is that of "standard facies belts" with second-order modification to Wilson's terminology. These facies are (from basin to land): basin, open sea shelf, toe of slope, foreslope, organic buildup, shoal lime sand, open lagoon, restricted lagoon, tidal flats, and sabkha evaporites.

The upper member of the Keg River Formation is the main hydrocarbon reservoir in the study area. It consists of floatstone, rudstone, and boundstone with wackestone, packstone, and grainstone matrix. The principal faunal constituents are crinoids, brachiopods, stromatoporoids, corals, and Stachyodes. The reservoir porosity is of primary intergranular and intragranular and secondary vugular textures. The upper Keg River member is composed of two major facies: patch reefs and banks. Both facies are formed in an open lagoon environment fronted by Presqu'ile barrier to the west-northwest. Water depth was the main factor in controlling the distribution of the bank and patch reef facies. Patch reefs were developed in areas of deeper water, whereas banks were formed in shallower areas of the open lagoon. Recent analogs of the Keg River buildups are found on the Bermuda Platform and Belize Shelf.

A direct relationship exists between the thickness of overlying anhydrites of the Muskeg Formation and hydrocarbon occurrences in the Keg River Formation. Generally in areas where patch reefs are developed, the thickness of the anhydrite is more than 30 ft. However, areas of bank are covered by less than 30 ft of anhydrite. Hence, exploration in the bank areas is considered to be a high risk due to inadequate trapping mechanisms.

Hydrocarbon production within the Keg River Formation in northwestern Alberta is facies controlled. Delineating and mapping of the facies sequences and understanding the controlling factors of facies distribution results in decreasing the risk factor for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation in the Keg River carbonates.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.