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ABSTRACT: Modeling and Mapping of Geology and Hydrocarbon Content of the McMurray Formation, in Northern Alberta

George Hawes, Foad Roghani

Complex stratigraphy and depositional facies of the McMurray Formation requires special attention and understanding prior to modeling and mapping. This requirement is due to the extreme lateral and vertical variations of the lithofacies of the McMurray Formation. The bitumen content of the McMurray Formation is of epigenetic nature. The oil saturation is a function of physical characteristics of the reservoir rock such as porosity and permeability. These characteristics vary based on the lithology and depositional facies.

To map the detail geology and oil content of the McMurray Formation in the area under investigation, the formation was divided into five distinct correlatable units based on its regional depositional environment. These units from top to bottom are Marine, Upper Peritidal, Fluvial-Lacustrine, Lower Peritidal, and Continental. Each unit was further divided into a number of subunits based on its lithology and specific depositional facies. The thickness, bitumen content, fine, solid and water content of each subunit were modeled and used for reserve calculation and mine planning. Modeling and mapping was done based on variable block modeling concept. This concept, unlike conventional block modeling technique, takes detail geology into consideration, therefore allowing determination of the exact location of ore and waste units.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90097©1990 Fifth Circum-Pacific Energy and Mineral Resources Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, July 29-August 3, 1990