A list of the CPGCE Past Presentations can be found HERE

All CPGCE Technical Presentations and Committee meetings count as two (2) hours towards the requirements for Continuing Professional Development (CPD)


The next CPGCE Technical presentation is:

13th September, 2017

"Toe-to-Heel Air Injection (THAITM) – The First Oil Recovery Process Producing Underground Upgraded Oil"

Dr. Alex Turta, President, A T EOR Consulting


In November 2008 the presentation “Underground oil refinery for oil upgrading – a fiction or reality ?“ was delivered to CPGCE in Calgary.  The main conclusion was that the long-term, consistent upgrading (higher than 4 API points) unintentionally obtained in some field in-situ combustion (ISC) pilot projects seemed to support the idea that in situ  (underground) upgrading can become a reality during some specially tailored applications of the ISC process.

At that time, the unintentional in-situ upgrading obtained in four field tests pertaining to both pilot and semi-commercial operations was discussed. However, the mechanisms were not fully understood. Also, at that time, some preliminary results regarding the “intentional” underground upgrading potential of THAITM process tested directly in the Field, in the Athabasca Whitesands THAITM pilot, were reported.  However, those results were obtained during the first two years of field testing.  Today we fully confirm those findings by reporting the results of 11.5 years of experimental/semi-commercial application of THAITM process in two Canadian Fields: 5.5 years for the Whitesands Project located in Athabasca bitumen region of Alberta and 6 years for a conventional heavy oil reservoir, the Kerrobert reservoir, located  in Saskatchewan.

The Whitesands THAITM Pilot tested the process in 3 “vertical injector-horizontal producer” pairs; it constituted the first in the world as far as the day-by-day consistent in-situ upgrading of the produced oil was concerned. Therefore, it was the first enhanced oil recovery (EOR) process in which the upgrading was obtained underground, during the oil recovery, without using any exterior heat sources. The upgrading was in the range of 4-8 API degrees.  A short-term testing of the catalytic THAI or CAPRI process, associated with a second upgrading of the oil, when entering the borehole of producer, was also tested.

The Kerrobert Project tested the THAITM process in 12 “vertical injector-horizontal producer” pairs; initially as a pilot in 2 pairs and then as a semi-commercial project in 12 pairs.  This project was applied in the presence of bottom water.  The testing fully validated the day-by-day, consistent, in-situ upgrading potential of THAITM process. The upgrading was in the range of 3-5 API degrees for the semi-commercial expansion, where upgrading was different from pair to pair, while for the pilot it was in the range of  4-6 API degrees, with the oil viscosity decreasing from 33,000cp to less than 2000cp (range of 700 to 2000cp). Graphs showing detailed variation of upgrading during the pilot are presented and discussed.  Also, discussed are the areas where improvements of the THAI process (and CAPRI process) are necessary, and possibilities to optimize the underground upgrading process


Mr. Turta's Bio

Alex Turta is a reservoir engineer who worked with Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures (former Alberta Research Council) in Calgary.   Currently, he is the president of his own company: A T EOR Consulting.  Alex has a Ph.D. 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 in Romania, the world’s largest 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 guided the development of Balol and Santhal ISC projects in India, from pilot to commercial stage operation.  These projects are the second biggest ISC projects, worldwide.

All in all, he has been involved in 8 commercial ISC operations and 16 pilots, worldwide.  Recently, he launched a website fully dedicated to ISC process.  He is the author of the ISC chapter in the 2013 USA published book ”Enhanced Oil Recovery. Field Case Studies”, Elsevier, Editor James J. Sheng.

Since 1992, Alex has been part of the “split-team”, which has continuously worked on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, to develop new oil exploitation processes, namely Toe-To-Heel Air Injection (THAI) and its version for in-situ upgrading, CAPRI, the subjects of our presentation, today.  He is a co-inventor of THAI, and catalytic THAI (CAPRITM)for heavy oil recovery. So far, 5 THAI projects have been conducted in 3 different countries; 3 are on-going as we speak.

Presently, he is working for improvement of THAI process. He coordinates a team of specialists conducting a comprehensive critical assessment starting from the evaluation of the original patent, supporting laboratory tests and simulations attempts, and finishing with an in-depth analysis of the field trials.   

Alex is a member of APEGGA (P.ENG.), SPE, and CHOA. He is listed in International WHO'S WHO of Professionals, 1997 and in Who's Who in Alberta, First Edition, 1994 -1998


Technical Events Venue

727, 11th Ave. S.W., Calgary.


Technical Events Venue

727, 11th Ave. S.W., Calgary. View Map


Starting 8th March, 2017 there will be a $5 admission fee for non-sponsoring Institution Members/Spouses/Guests.

2017 Technical Presentations. 

13th September, 2017 THAI - The first oil recovery process producing underground upgraded oil Alex Turta
11th October, 2017 What it takes to be a Canadian Astronaut Robert Thirsk
8th November, 2017 2013 Calgary and area flood mitigation TBD