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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

CSPG Special Publications


Facts and Principles of World Petroleum Occurrence — Memoir 6, 1980
Pages 397-420
Petroleum in Canada

Exploration in Western Canada: A Summary of the Exploration, Development and Future Potential of Western Canada

M. E. Hriskevich


Early concepts of the prospects for finding hydrocarbons in Western Canada were dominated by a structural approach. This was natural since many of the explorationists involved in the early part of exploration in post World War II times were U.S.A. imports — there were only a handful of Canadian geologists available. Even at this early date, however, the concept of finding production in coral reefs of Devonian age was firmly planted in the minds of some geologists — those who had been involved in the Canol Project and had worked on and developed the Key Scarp Reef Field at Norman Wells. The discoveries of Leduc and Redwater were not as much a stroke of luck as many may have thought at the time. It has become clear that most of the hydrocarbons found in the southern part of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, since the discovery at Leduc, occur in stratigraphic traps of various kinds.

It has also become clear that seismic data, poor as it often was in the fifties, could, under certain circumstances, be used to better define certain kinds of stratigraphic prospects. Improvements in acquisition and processing of seismic data, combined with the developing expertise in stratigraphy, have led to the development of Canadian explorationists of very high calibre.

A parallel development in seismic data acquisition and geologic knowledge of structures of the Foothills Belt is now being evidenced by the sharp increase in the number of significant accumulations of gas which have recently been found.

Even though various segments of the exploration fraternity cannot agree on how much oil and gas is still to be found, recent developments in the art of acquiring and processing seismic data, combined with the ingenuity of explorationists, point clearly to significant further discoveries, even within what is now the most intensely drilled part of the Basin.

There are obstacles, however. The average exploration department now spends too much time being concerned with rules and regulations which hinder efforts to find useable reserves. Most explorationists are conservationists and environmentalists at heart and will agree that there has been an environmental overkill, a government control overkill, and in some cases, particularly within the Federal regime, indecision, and cross-purposes between Departments, that have resulted in serious waste of exploration effort. Elimination of this kind of waste of effort, combined with continued ingenuity on the part of explorationists, is the key to finding significant useable reserves in Western Canada.

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