At the recent Arctic Gas Symposium in Calgary, Dr Martin Fowler of Natural Resources Canada presented an update on his department’s $100 million, five-year Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) project. He’s the program manager for the project’s energy component, and appropriately entitled his talk “Identifying Future Hot Areas for Arctic Oil and Gas Resource Production”.
The massive project is a survey designed to provide the geosciences data needed to guide exploration and development of new resources, mostly in the North. Fully 40% of Canada’s far north is poorly or not mapped to modern standards. Data that exist are mostly concentrated in specific areas; “hot-area” leftovers from Dome, Gulf, Panarctic and Imperial’s decades of exploration. GEM covers a vast area: Yukon and Liard Basin, Mackenzie Corridor and Delta, Western and Eastern Arctic Islands and Hudson Bay-Foxe Basin are being examined through airborne geophysics, fieldwork, seismic interpretation, studies of old cores and cuttings and petroleum systems analyses.
To make sure it all will be useful to explorers in the end, the department set up a Geological Map Flow—collection of field data uses off-the-shelf GIS software and standard procedures. It’s being compiled and managed around an expandable geo-database, especially streamlined for quick delivery of consistent print-ready and GIS-ready geological maps.
Some of the new findings Fowler talked about: several oil sands deposits, including some located in the Lower Triassic west of Melville Island. Also on Melville, on the south end of the island’s Sabine Peninsula, there’s possibly a light oil reservoir overlooked by Panarctic Oils in their 70s and 80s explorations. The quality appears likely similar to that taken out of nearby Bent Horn by Panarctic—the only crude ever to come out of the High Arctic. As well, much further east, finds have identified new Cretaceous-Tertiary basins around the northern Baffin Bay margin and Lancaster Sound.
Explorers looking forward to the database have a bit of a wait yet, however. GEM is scheduled to wrap up in 2013; but some availability may be sooner. It’s an exciting project. Check out details and links at: http://cgc.rncan.gc.ca/gem/index_e.php