Oil Sands Formations
The Clearwater Project is targeting the Middle McMurray Formation oil sands reservoir. At Clearwater the Middle McMurray begins at a depth of 70-75 metres and is 35-50 metres in thickness. It is the same sand formation that is present closer to the surface at well-known surface mining projects. At Clearwater the Middle McMurray is high in the qualities needed for successful economic SAGD operations, particularly in the relative homogeneity of the sand channel running beneath the Clearwater lease.
The Cretaceous-period Wabiskaw-McMurray is the largest bitumen-bearing reservoir in the Athabasca oil sands region, with an estimated total of 959 billion barrels of OBIP, according to ERCB estimates. At present, the McMurray accounts for the large majority of Alberta’s oil sands production from surface mining as well as SAGD projects.
Other important oil sands reservoirs include the Grand Rapids sands. There is also extensive bitumen contained in carbonate reservoirs, including the Grosmont and Winterburn formations, which present significant technical challenges and have not been commercially developed.