New Brunswick is one of the oldest oil and gas producing regions in the world. Oil was discovered near Moncton in 1859 where H.C. Tweedal, a refiner from Pittsburgh, drilled one of the first oil wells in North America. The Stoney Creek oil and gas field was discovered 50 years later in 1909. The oil and gas are contained in sandstone deposited in a delta along an ancient lake. The oil wells put down in the Dover area were in the Lower Carboniferous Albert Formation. This would prove to be a significant find, because since that time, most of the exploration for oil and gas in New Brunswick has concentrated on the Albert Formation. Throughout its 80-year history, the Stoney Creek Field yielded 30 billion cubic feet of gas and nearly one million barrels of oil. The oil and gas supplied the energy needs for Moncton and Hillsborough for almost 50 years.
New Brunswick is one of the oldest oil and gas producing regions in the world. Oil was discovered near Moncton in 1859 where H.C. Tweedal, a refiner from Pittsburgh, drilled one of the first oil wells in North America. The Stoney Creek oil and gas field was discovered 50 years later in 1909. The oil and gas are contained in sandstone deposited in a delta along an ancient lake. The oil wells put down in the Dover area were in the Lower Carboniferous Albert Formation. This would prove to be a significant find, because since that time, most of the exploration for oil and gas in New Brunswick has concentrated on the Albert Formation. Throughout its 80-year history, the Stoney Creek Field yielded 30 billion cubic feet of gas and nearly one million barrels of oil. The oil and gas supplied the energy needs for Moncton and Hillsborough for almost 50 years.
Dr. Randall Miller, New Brunswick Museum
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Oil pump jack at roadside

photograph: Weldon, New Brunswick, 2012. Oil was discovered near Moncton in 1859. The Stoney Creek oil and gas field was discovered 50 years later in 1909. The Village of Weldon exhibits an oil pump jack at a roadside picnic stop.

New Brunswick Museum
New Brunswick Museum
2012
Weldon, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Two men pour nitroglycerine into torpedo shell

photograph: Pouring Nitroglycerine into Torpedo Shell; Preparating to Shoot an Oil Well, Maritime Oilfields Limited, Moncton, New Brunswick, c. 1920. Oil was discovered near Moncton in 1859. The Stoney Creek oil and gas field was discovered 50 years later in 1909.

Unknown
New Brunswick Museum
c. 1920
Moncton, New Brunswick, CANADA
X11743
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Black and white photograph of oil flow after a strike

photograph: Flow of Oil After Shot, Well No. 10, Maritime Oilfields Limited, Moncton, New Brunswick, c. 1920. Oil was discovered near Moncton in 1859. The Stoney Creek oil and gas field was discovered 50 years later in 1909. Image shows the flow of Oil After Shot, Well No. 10, Maritime Oilfields Limited, Moncton, New Brunswick.

Unknown
New Brunswick Museum
c. 1920
Moncton, New Brunswick, CANADA
X11744
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Small bottle of petroleum

Petroleum, Lower Carboniferous, Stoney Creek, New Brunswick (?). Oil was discovered near Moncton in 1859. The Stoney Creek oil and gas field was discovered 50 years later in 1909.

Unknown
New Brunswick Museum

Jar width 7 cm
NBM 25
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


In New Brunswick the sedimentary rocks of the Devonian and Carboniferous Periods are part of the Maritimes Basin, an area of mountains and valleys created as continents were rearranged to form the supercontinent of Pangea. In the Lower Carboniferous about 353 million years ago, the continents were pulling apart, creating faults that caused blocks of the Earth’s crust to subside. Organic-rich sediment accumulated in lakes formed within the basins. The fault-bounded valleys of the Albert Formation were filled with lakes, rivers and swamps. Algae grew in the lakes and formed thick layers of organic matter at the bottom. Over time, the organic matter was buried. The lakes eventually filled with sediment that slowly turned to sedimentary rock. As the rocks were buried deeper, higher temperatures and pressures converted the organic matter in the shales into hydrocarbons.

The shales of the Albert Formation are the source rocks for the natural gas now held in sedimentary reservoirs, such as the Stoney Creek and McCully fields. The thick organic-bearing shales have potential for holding large volumes of natural gas. The shales have been familiar to palaeontologists since t Read More
In New Brunswick the sedimentary rocks of the Devonian and Carboniferous Periods are part of the Maritimes Basin, an area of mountains and valleys created as continents were rearranged to form the supercontinent of Pangea. In the Lower Carboniferous about 353 million years ago, the continents were pulling apart, creating faults that caused blocks of the Earth’s crust to subside. Organic-rich sediment accumulated in lakes formed within the basins. The fault-bounded valleys of the Albert Formation were filled with lakes, rivers and swamps. Algae grew in the lakes and formed thick layers of organic matter at the bottom. Over time, the organic matter was buried. The lakes eventually filled with sediment that slowly turned to sedimentary rock. As the rocks were buried deeper, higher temperatures and pressures converted the organic matter in the shales into hydrocarbons.

The shales of the Albert Formation are the source rocks for the natural gas now held in sedimentary reservoirs, such as the Stoney Creek and McCully fields. The thick organic-bearing shales have potential for holding large volumes of natural gas. The shales have been familiar to palaeontologists since the mid-1800s when the first fossils of palaenoniscid fish were found there. The Albert Formation is also well known as the rock unit that contains the bitumen albertite, once used as a source for the production of kerosene.

Two deep subbasins within the Maritimes Basin have known petroleum potential. More than 250 exploration and production wells have been drilled over the last 100 years. New wells in the McCully Field and near Elgin have shown there are gas-prone organic shales in those areas. A number of companies such as Corridor Resources are actively exploring in our province.

In March 2010, the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources awarded licenses to SWN Resources Canada to search an area of more than 1 million hectares for oil and gas in sandstone reservoirs and unconventional shale reservoirs of the Horton Group that includes the Albert Formation.

Unconventional shale reservoirs such as those in the Albert Formation consist of dense, fine-grained rock. A process called hydraulic fracture stimulation is required to produce economic quantities of natural gas. The shale is ‘tight’ and the gas cannot migrate through the rock. To extract the gas, fluid is injected into the rock to fracture the shale and release the trapped gas.
Dr. Randall Miller, New Brunswick Museum
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Diagram of hydraulic fracturing process

diagram: Hydraulic fracture stimulation. Unconventional shale reservoirs such as those in the Albert Formation consist of dense, fine-grained rock. A process called hydraulic fracture stimulation is required to produce economic quantities of natural gas. The shale is ‘tight’ and the gas cannot migrate through the rock. To extract the gas, fluid is injected into the rock to fracture the shale and release the trapped gas.

New Brunswick Museum
New Brunswick Museum

New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Colour image of brown rock with fossilized black plant

Plant: Lepidodendropsis, Lower Carboniferous, Baltimore, New Brunswick. The Lower Carboniferous flora recovered from the Albert Formation has a low diversity. Early lycopods trees make up over 90% of the vegetation in some places.

Unknown
New Brunswick Museum

Baltimore, New Brunswick, CANADA
Image width 12 cm
NBMG 7644
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. David Keighley describes the Albert Formation

Dr. David Keighley Department of Earth Sciences University of New Brunswick, Fredericton

So the drive from Hampton to Sussex along Highway 1 is roughly equivalent to driving from a floodplain with trees, out into the middle of a lake 360 million years ago. So here at this first outcrop we are on the equivalent to a … river floodplain with upright trees growing and occasionally getting flooded by little channel sandstones and sheetfloods.

New Brunswick Museum
New Brunswick Museum
2012
Sussex, New Brunswick, CANADA
Norton, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. David Keighley discusses the Albert Formation, Part II

Dr. David Keighley Department of Earth Sciences University of New Brunswick, Fredericton

So we have travelled a few kilometers east along Highway 1, and that’s equivalent to travelling from the river floodplain to the lakeshore. And the evidence of the lakeshore is here, and the presence of wave ripples. Now this is a top surface. The rocks have all been tilted since they were first deposited on a lakeshore.

Sometimes the lakes…[traffic noise].. Sometimes the lakes had a sandy shore, which then had wave ripples on them. Other times the shoreline was very muddy and very quiet water, and that water occasionally dried out, and then the mud dried out, forming a lot of these desiccation cracks.

New Brunswick Museum
New Brunswick Museum
2012
Sussex, New Brunswick, CANADA
Norton, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. David Keighley discusses the Albert Formation, Part III

Dr. David Keighley Department of Earth Sciences University of New Brunswick, Fredericton

Okay, so here we are in the deeper part of the lake. The lake was probably … fairly steep sided, so we see up here that these muds, these dark grey muds have slid and slumped down the side of the lake. Now these muds are very dark, dark grey. Lots of organic matter in it, and further [west] east of here these rocks are found about two and a half kilometers below the surface, and that is a depth sufficient to heat up the organic matter in here and produce natural gas which is being extracted at the McCully gas field.

New Brunswick Museum
New Brunswick Museum
2012
Norton, New Brunswick, CANADA
Sussex, New Brunswick, CANADA
© 2013, New Brunswick Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Curriculum Outcomes:
  • Explore one or a few local or regional issues with respect to the impact (e.g. oil & gas industry) on the environment, and on history, economics and social systems
  • Outline the range of energy resources, renewable and non-renewable available in New Brunswick
  • Describe energy use in NB, its impact on the environment and the factors that might affect its future

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