The Cardium oil fields of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin represent one of the largest conventional light/medium oil deposits in the country. Pools found in this formation have been producing oil since the early 1950’s mainly from the large Pembina Cardium oil pool surrounding Drayton Valley, Alberta. Other conventional Cardium oil pools are found in western Alberta, with similar characteristics to the Pembina Cardium, and have been producing almost as long.
Historically Cardium oil well drilling has occurred in the Alberta Counties of: Brazeau, Clearwater, Mountain View and Yellowhead, with much smaller amounts of development along the western edges of bordering municipalities, stretching from the M.D. of Greenview in the north to Red Deer in the south. The original oil production was mainly through vertical wells drilled into the 1-3 m thick Cardium formations, mainly in areas where there were extensive gravel beds, or “conglomerates”, within the sandstone formation which allowed oil to drain to the producing wells. The location of these types of conventional oil reservoirs are generally found in the central portions of the formation, shown as bright orange in Figure 1 below. This oilfield development has been a major factor in the growth of a number of communities in the region, including Drayton Valley, Edson, and Sylvan Lake, and has been supported by local oilfield service firms and entrepreneurs, as well as other service providers located in Edmonton, Nisku, Red Deer and Calgary.