Heavy Oil Recovery


This one-day course is proposed for petroleum engineers, geologists, and others with background in reservoir engineering and oil recovery.  The course will consist of lectures, problem sessions, and limited participation of the attendees.  The course will cover all thermal recovery methods, but the emphasis will be on steam injection. 


It is expected that the participants will learn about: (1). Status of thermal recovery in U.S.A., Alberta, Venezuela, and other countries, in the sense of what methods are commercially successful.  (2). Analytical calculation methods, and how they compare with numerical results.  (3). Simplified approach to project planning and surveillance.  The emphasis will be on practical aspects, not on academic rigour.


  • Heavy oil resources of the world, and current state of development
  • Fundamental concepts of thermal recovery
  • Formation heating by hot water and steam. 
  • Steam heating: Marx-Langenheim’s model, its applications and limitations, and extensions
  • Steamflooding: mechanisms, recovery, operational aspects, and  field experience
  • Cyclic steam stimulation: nonfrac and frac; mechanisms and operational aspects
  • SAGD: Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage and its variations
  • Other topics: wellbore heat loss, steam generation, horizontal well applications, downhole steam generation, etc.


0.8 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) awarded for this 1-day course.

Cancellation Policy

To receive a full refund, all cancellations must be received in writing no later than 14 days prior to the course start date. Cancellations made after the 14-day window will not be refunded. Send cancellation requests by email to trainingcourses@spe.org; by fax to +1.866.460.3032 (US) or +1.972.852.9292 (outside US); or mail to SPE Registration, PO Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083.


Ian D. Gates is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary.  He worked for seven years in industry prior to joining the university and since joining the University, has been a consultant for many small and large energy companies both in Canada and internationally.  His primary research interests are in 1. thermal and thermal-solvent methods (SAGD, CSS, ES-SAGD, and SA-CSS) and optimization of these technologies for in situ heavy oil and bitumen recovery, energetics and efficiency, emissions, and water use, 2. well-wormhole models for cold production with sand and recovery from thin heavy oil reservoirs, 3. imaging reservoirs by using white noise reflection processes, 4. application of smartwell technologies for adaptive production of heavy oil fields, 5. support vector machine learning for reservoir characterization, 6. in-reservoir reaction engineering (in situ combustion and in situ gasification of oil sands, H2S generation in SAGD and CSS), 7. biofilm development in porous media and 8. biotechnology for energy recovery from petroleum reservoirs.  Dr. Gates has been a co-founder of several spin-off companies from the University of Calgary including Gushor Inc. and Profero Inc. as well as two consulting firms.  He has won eight teaching awards including a Killam Innovation in Teaching Award, six research, innovation, and commercialization awards including an ASTECH Award for Gushor Inc. (Category:  Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology with gross sales < $25M).  Gushor Inc. was sold to Schlumberger in June 2013.  Dr. Gates holds a B.Sc. from the University of Calgary, an M.A.Sc. from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, all in chemical engineering.  He is a registered professional engineer in Alberta.  For more information (papers, books, patents, etc), see http://schulich.ucalgary.ca/chemical/IanGates