Toe-to-Heel Air Injection (THAI)—An In-Situ Combustion Emerging Technology

Management and Information


This course covers key reservoir engineering aspects of heavy oil recovery by conventional in-situ combustion (ISC), emphasizing fundamentals as well as field applications, design, and operation of commercial ISC projects.

The use of horizontal wells in combination with ISC is the main focus of this course. Both uses of horizontal wells in old fields (where an ISC was implemented) and uses of horizontal wells in newly developed ISC processes are covered. These new processes comprise of COSH, top-down ISC, THAITM and CAPRITM processes. Details are provided on Toe-to-Heel Air Injection (THAITM) as an emerging technology involving short-distance oil displacement. A critical mass of information has emerged after more than 5 years of field testing. This course involves discussion of these lessons pertaining to THAITM in the following areas:

  • Development of the process
  • Basic mechanisms
  • Laboratory testing
  • Field testing: piloting and semi-commercial operations
  • Consistent in-situ upgrading of the produced oil
  • Status of current development and limitations
  • Criteria for application

Why Attend?

Attendees will become familiar with conventional ISC as a process which can be commercially applied (successfully) in many heavy oil reservoirs. Also, potential of the new ISC processes involving consistent in-situ upgrading of the produced oil will be discussed. It is surmised that ISC with upgrading of produced oil will become reality in the not-too-distant future.

Who Should Attend

Engineers involved in thermal heavy oil recovery operations, improved/enhanced oil recovery engineers and managers, reservoir engineers and managers, development and exploitation engineers and managers, and engineers from downstream oil industry interested in in-situ oil upgrading methods should attend this course.


0.8 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) will be 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; 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.


Alex Turta, PhD, PEng, is a reservoir engineer working as a research engineer at the Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (AITF), former Alberta Research Council (ARC). He has a PhD in oil recovery by in-situ combustion (ISC), with a subsequent in-depth specialization in ISC applications.

For more than 12 years, Alex was involved in the implementation and management of Suplacu de Barcau commercial project, the world's biggest ISC project. He has served as an ISC consultant in North and South America, Europe and Asia. He has also been engaged in assignments from the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP). As an UNDP expert he has guided the development of Lanwa and Santhal ISC projects in India from pilot to commercial stage operation. He has been involved in 6 commercial ISC operations and 12 ISC pilots, worldwide. He has held courses on heavy oil recovery by ISC in Canada, Romania, Brazil, Malaysia, and Japan.

Since 1992, Alex has been part of the "split-team," which has continuously worked on both sides of the Atlantic, to develop novel ISC processes for heavy oil recovery, namely Toe-to-Heel Air Injection (THAITM) and its version for in-situ upgrading, CAPRITM. The piloting of THAITM process is in progress in two oil fields. Since 1996, Alex has also been instrumental in developing the Toe-to-Heel Waterflooding (TTHW) process, which has been under field testing in Canada and USA.