MERN - Québec Mines - Potential for Discovery of Hydrocarbons in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie Resource Regions

November 2002

Potential for Discovery of Hydrocarbons in the
Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie Resource Regions


Oil and gas exploration companies have been attempting to develop the hydrocarbon resources in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie resource regions for more than 140 years. The first drilling work was not based on in-depth geological information, but instead was done near places where surface seepage of petroleum had been observed.

At the turn of the last century, the Service des mines de Québec recommended that the geology of the Gaspé peninsula be studied. As soon as the first surface geology maps appeared, the petroleum companies of the day, including Imperial Oil, rushed in to drill and verify the potential of several major anticlinal axes, including the Mississippi and Haldimand. The results were negative. Next, the arrival of the geophysical method known as seismic reflection enabled other oil companies to continue the exploration research and set up drilling sites targeted by seismic operations. After a number of commendable but unfruitful attempts the petroleum companies, such as Gulf, Esso, Petrofina and their partners, returned to exploring less complex geological areas with already proven potential.

As a result, the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie resource regions have not benefited for a number of years from the assistance and new geoscientific data needed to support exploration research in this high-risk activity sector and generate the new private investment essential to success. Exploration in Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie therefore needed direct encouragement and new basic information to gain a better understanding of the subsurface geology.

Finally, good shows and a discovery

In view of recent developments at Val-Brillant where a junior exploration company succeeded in identifying significant crude petroleum shows in large quantities and another junior exploration company announced startup of operations on an initial deposit of natural gas near Gaspé, regional authorities have asked the ministère des Ressources naturelles for assistance. To help them continue to evaluate oil and gas potential, these partners have requested support in the form of improved information about this extensive territory.

The Ministère becomes involved

During the autumn of 2000 the Ministère began carrying out a 98-kilometre geophysical seismic reflection survey program to better assess the structural nature and hydrodynamics of hydrocarbon formation in the Val-Brillant area.

More than 6,000 geophones like this one were monitoring constantly.

Since the official publication of the autumn 2000 survey results at the MINESPACE 2001 conference (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum), exploration companies have made twenty requests for geophysical survey data on the Val-Brillant area. And, the Direction du développement des hydrocarbures has delivered 90 new permits covering more than 1,700,000 hectares for exploration research in these areas.

Map showing location of current exploration research permits in Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie and on Île d'Anticosti. (PDF Format, 178 kb)

The power for transmitting seismic pulses though the subsurface was provided by four vibrator trucks producing a fully synchronized force of 120 tonnes.

In view of the results obtained and the interest generated in universities and research facilities as well as among exploration companies, the Ministère, in September 2001, announced that new work would be carried out to better assess oil and gas potential in Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie. A call for tenders was issued in this regard and the selected supplier, a consortium made up of GPR International Inc., Boyd PetroSearch Inc. and Kinetex Inc., was mandated to conduct 10 new seismic profiles aver a total of 345 kilometres between Mont-Joli and Cap-Chat in the north and between Nouvelle and Chandler in the south. One of the profiles cuts across the Gaspé peninsula from north to south between Cap-Chat and Miguacha. The work was carried out in two stages. Phase I of this new program was completed on October 25, 2001, covering 117 km. Preliminary findings confirm that the data is of excellent quality. Phase II (230 km) was completed July 18, 2002.

Presentation of results

Acquisition of new basic information at a cost of $2.3 million has enhanced the value of these regions and helped target the most favourable areas for pursuing development of hydrocarbon potential. The bank of already-existing geological data compiled by the Ministère together with the addition of new geophysical data will permit assessment of hydrocarbon resources in this vast area to continue.

Seismic profile of the Lake Humqui anticline, showing an amplitude anomaly on the structure's ridge at a depth of 2,500 meters.(PDF Format, 238 kb)

The ministère des Ressources naturelles was the project manager for all stages of these surveys. Processing is underway and the geological interpretation will be presented at the 23e Séminaire d'information sur la recherche géologique to be held November 27 and 28, 2002 at the Château Frontenac in Québec.

We invite you to attend the visual presentations as well as the conference entitled Une nouvelle image structurale : Résultats des Méga-transects de la sismique réflexion à travers la ceinture appalachienne de la péninsule gaspésienne presented by Claude Morin and Jean-Yves Laliberté from the Direction du développement des hydrocarbures.

Map showing location of seismic profiles obtained in 2000, 2001 and 2002 (PDF Format, 135 kb)

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