Updated post – George Skulsky, an oil sands pioneer provided some helpful suggestions and materials to improve the original article. The oil sands are such an interesting topic they probably deserve a series of their own in the near future.
This is the fourth Well of the Week post in a series describing how Resource Plays (basin-wide plays in which hydrocarbons are the continuous phase) have often driven development throughout the history of the Canadian oil and gas industry. Links to the previous posts are provided at the bottom of the article.
Resource Play: Athabasca Oil Sands
Discovery Well UWI: Bitumount coordinates: 57.3849° N, 111.6313° W
Drilling/Completion Technology: Pick and shovel. Then…something more sophisticated.
With each subsequent resource play summary I will be updating a timeline of the key milestones in the discovery history of the western Canada oil and gas industry. As with the Canol and Oil City, Bitumount represents an early attempt to exploit a Resource Play (as a reminder from the introduction to this series, a resource play is a pervasively hydrocarbon saturated interval extending over a significant portion of a formation. So Athabasca definitely qualifies.). After the discovery of the Mesozoic Turner Valley but before the much more prolific Paleozoic structure, Bitumount marked the first crack at the economic development of the Athabasca oil sands and a big investment in the play. Exploitation continued in fits and starts from 1925 to 1958 and eventually led to the planning and development of the Great Canadian Oil Sands project in 1962 followed by Syncrude from 1964 to 1978.
Since we can’t look at well logs or cross sections, we need another way of visualizing the importance of Bitumount.
These two videos do a good job of telling the Bitumount story.
From these early beginnings at Bitumount grew Syncrude and the current oil sands industry. A key part of the World’s energy supply.
August 12, 2021 Well of the Week – The first gas well in Western Canada
August 19, 2021 Well of the Week – first oil well in Western Canada