Caprock Integrity for Thermal Recovery

Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility Reservoir Descriptions and Dynamics Production and Operations

Course Description

This two–day course is an introduction to geomechanics principles and their application to assessing caprock integrity in thermal recovery projects including cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) and steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). The following topics will be covered:

  • In–situ stresses – Why they matter, measurement vs prediction, factors controlling
  • Mini–frac/DFIT testing in caprocks and reservoirs – Field and analysis techniques, examples from all important Canadian oil sands settings, QA/QC
  • Rock mechanical properties of caprocks and oil sands reservoirs – Core vs log-derived, geological factors
  • Discontinuities (bedding, fractures, faults) – Significance, from seismic to core scales, key properties
  • Caprock failure mechanisms – Overview with examples from Cold Lake–Primrose CCS, Joslyn SAGD steam release, and other historical events in Alberta and abroad
  • Wellbore integrity and its relationship to caprock integrity
  • Geomechanical-reservoir simulation – Coupled modeling tools for assessing risk
  • Geomechanical monitoring – InSAR, tilt mapping, ground deformations and more

Numerous case histories from thermal recovery projects in Alberta will be discussed throughout the course. Participants will receive a course manual with some of the latest technical innovations in the industry, a comprehensive list of references, and a demonstration of geomechanical software for basic stress, wellbore stability and discontinuity slip predictions.

Why Attend

To gain a better understanding of the geomechanical factors that affect caprock integrity and to learn how to develop field, laboratory, numerical modelling and monitoring programs for a typical thermal recovery project.

Who Attends

This course will be of interest to engineers, geoscientists, technologists, project managers, environmental coordinators and regulators working on thermal and enhanced recovery projects.

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations must be received no later than 14 days prior to the course start date. Cancellations made after the 14-day window will not be refunded.  Refunds will not be given due to no show situations.

Training sessions attached to SPE conferences and workshops follow the cancellation policies stated on the event information page.  Please check that page for specific cancellation information.

SPE reserves the right to cancel or re-schedule courses at will.  Notification of changes will be made as quickly as possible; please keep this in mind when arranging travel, as SPE is not responsible for any fees charged for cancelling or changing travel arrangements.

We reserve the right to substitute course instructors as necessary.

Full regional cancellation policies can be found at the Cancellation Policy page within the SPE Training Course Catalog.


Pat McLellan, M.Sc., P.Eng., the president of McLellan Energy Advisors Inc. has over 30 years of experience applying geomechanics to a wide range of E&P activities. He was the founder of Advanced Geotechnology Inc. in 1994 (now part of Weatherford Petroleum Consulting) and has conducted over 500 consulting and research projects for clients in Canada and abroad. He was also the lead developer of two commercial software products for well design and geomechanical analysis. He was previously employed in technical and supervisory roles with Petro–Canada, Shell Canada, and Shell Research. He has written or presented over 150 technical papers and given more than 100 short courses on geomechanics–related topics in Canada and abroad. Pat was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 2002–2003, and is a recipient of the SPE Distinguished Service Award. Since 2009 he has been an independent consultant to several clients for thermal recovery, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and unconventional resource projects in Canada and abroad. Most recently he was a member of the Independent Review Panel tasked with investigating several bitumen emulsion releases to surface in the Primrose area. He received a B.Sc.(Eng.) in Geological Engineering from Queen’s University in 1979 and an M.Sc. in Civil Engineering (Geotechnical) from the University of Alberta in 1983.