Alberta’s Carbonate Rocks: A History and How They Will Save the World

June 8, 2022 — 12:45-2:00 p.m.

Some 375 million years ago, Alberta was a warm, tropical paradise of shallow waters, ancient reefs, and protected lagoons separated by cool, deeper waters. These turned into the key ingredients needed to propel the province towards supplying the world’s energy needs in the 1950s and ’60s with a series of massive Devonian-era carbonate oil discoveries. By the 1990s, there were no more behemoths left to find, and geologists were more focused on smaller, shallower finds until even they couldn’t compete with the fracking efficiency of the modern resource play. This is not the end of the story. The very same characteristics that drew the oil barons of the 1940s to look for Devonian carbonates are now drawing attention from a different type of prospector—one with an eye on emerging energy industries such as lithium and helium extraction, geothermal resources, and carbon sequestration.

In this session, David Hills, P.Geo., will provide an overview of the geological work inherent in developing a large-scale emerging energy program in Alberta’s most prolific subsurface zones—Devonian carbonates. As well as illustrating the preliminary work required to develop a project, the session will cover environmental work needed to ensure these programs remain safe for generations ahead. Session attendees will understand the scope of geoscience and engineering skills involved with large-scale projects such as carbon sequestration and will appreciate the detailed geological characterization undertaken during project development.

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