The depositional setting of the McMurray Formation within the main Athabasca fairway has been extensively studied by industry and is well documented in the literature. Much crown land in this easternmost part of the Athabasca Oil Sands Area (AOSA) is currently being drilled and geologically characterised with the aim of in-situ thermal extraction methods, such as SAGD. Reservoirs in this region consist of tidally-influenced channel sands and open estuarine tidal sand bars. There are, however, new plays being discovered in the northwestern part of the AOSA that represent strikingly different depositional environments. Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. (AOSC) holds extensive oil sands assets in this western region of AOSA, and has discovered thick, good quality bitumen pay within the McMurray Formation.
Depositional environments of the McMurray Formation in this region contrast significantly to those reservoirs located within the main fairway to the east. This paper will describe the depositional environment, the building of a numerical simulation model to represent this reservoir, and the results of simulation studies predicting the performance of SAGD behaviour in this particular depositional setting.