University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Stay Connected

Field School Information

Fac. of Science IT Support


Department of Geoscience

Earth Science 118
2500 University Dr. NW
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4 Canada
T. 403.220.5184
F. 403.284-0074

General Inquiries:

> Additional Contacts...


The Consortium for Heavy Oil Research by University Scientists (CHORUS) project is an integrated reservoir characterization/reservoir simulation/ seismic/rock physics/geochemistry oil industrial sposored program located in the Geology/Geophysics/Petroleum Engineering Departments at the University of Calgary. Our research team consists of many outstanding scientists that deal with the real field cold production problems of today's heavy oil industry. Other collaborators include the U of C Geochemistry Research Team, the Petroleum and Chemical Engineering at the U of C that includes the heavy oil and oil sands reservoir modeling and simulation engineering special team and the Physics Department at the University of Alberta. While global energy consumption continues to rise and conventional oil and reserves continue to diminish, more and more emphasis is being placed on maximizing production methods for heavy oil and bitumen reserves.

The correlation between seismic data and reservoir production data is very compelling. To better understand these correlations and the implications for enhanced oil recovery, we have directed our research efforts toward the integrated science studies of geochemical, geological, geology, reservoir production data, reservoir engineering and reservoir simulation. This research is leading toward a greater understanding of the various reservoir properties and should enhance the production from theheavy oil fields.

To-date, thermal recovery methods have been utilized to unlock both types of reserves. But with rising natural gas prices, producers are seeking alternative production methods that will minimize their operating costs. Cold production is the most cost effective production method already being utilized in Canada and is gaining ground as a viable means to produce heavy oil due to the growing use of progressing cavity pumps (PCP). These pumps act like augers and suck both sand and oil into the well. With no natural gas required like with thermal production methods, the biggest benefit of cold production is that it provides producers with energy savings.

At the onset of cold production, the PCPs produce about 60 per cent oil and 40 per cent sand. Within about three months, these ratios improve to about 95 per cent oil. These production improvements are attributed to the development of high porosity tubes known as "wormholes." These wormholes tend to spread horizontally creating a network of wells without having to use a drilling rig.

With cold production, after the heavy oil is brought to surface by the PCPs, a settling tank then separates the oil and sand. Trucks would then routinely visit the production site to remove the produced oil and clean sand from the tanks. Members include both producers as well as service and supply companies that are all striving to develop more efficient cold production methods. The information gained through CHORUS research is not intellectual property and the results are shared and published in journals. All members pay an annual fee to be a part of the group that is now entering its 7th year. CHORUS also provides a valuable research opportunity for the world internation industry visiting scholars to come and work within the CHORUS integrated science research team here at the University of Calgary.

Numerical modeling of such complexity is of particular interest to the field operators. Ideal predictions can assist oil producers to not only design better pumping schemes for sand control, but also optimize oil production and ensure wellbore stability. In this paper, the authors present an integrated modular approach to quantitatively predict sand production and enhanced oil recovery. A modular approach is then adopted to effectively take advantage of the existing advanced standard reservoir and stress-strain codes. The model is implemented into three integrated computational modules, i.e. erosion module, reservoir module, and geomechanics module. The stress, flow and erosion equations are solved separately for each time increment, and the coupling terms (porosity, permeability, plastic shear strain, etc) are passed among them or iterated until convergence is achieved on a time step basis. Numerical results of field studies are presented to illustrate the capabilities of the model. The effects of foamy oil flow and sand production are also examined to demonstrate the impact on the enhanced hydrocarbon recovery. The model is ready to be used in conjunction with 4-D seismic to tune the erosion parameters and aid in the improvement of the seismic interpretation.

Conclusions and Plans for Future Research

The real field data correlations between the seismic anomalies and the reservoir production data the cold production fields is very compelling. To better understand these correlations and the implications for enhanced oil recovery we have directed our international heavy oil research efforts toward the heavy oil integrated science studies of geochemical, geological, geophysical, and reservoir production data. CHORUS is working closely with our heavy oil industry international sponsors and is one of the leading research consortium for cold production on the world stage. CHORUS presents/publishes some of our new and very important research results at our sponsor meetings, for private sponsor meetings and in magazines such as the SEG, CSEG, CGU, National Science Journal, SPE, EAGE and other leading international science journals.

CHORUS Project Contact information

All information/contract/correspondance regarding CHORUS should be directed to:

Joan Embleton, CHORUS Business Manager/Research
Earth Science Building Room 570
(403) 210-6339

For more information please go to

International Industry Oil/Service Company Sponsor List

  • ConocoPhillips Alaska, Houston, Venezuela
  • Hampson Russell Seismic Software
  • Nexen Energy Inc.
  • Sensor Geophysical Ltd.
  • Shell Canada
  • BP Alaska, Houston, Venezuela, Kuwait
  • Schlumberger North America
  • Schlumberger Cambridge
  • CGG/Veritas Geophysical
  • Divestco Geophysical Inc.
  • Fugro-Jason Canada Inc.
  • China National Petroleum Corporation
  • BGP Seismic Inc.
  • Japan Oil and Gas Inc.
  • Chevron Canada Inc.
  • CMG Engineering Inc.
  • Kuwait Oil

Integrated Science Research Team

Dr. L.R. Lines - Principal Investigator

Dr. Doug Schmitt - University of Alberta Physics Department

Dr. Brian Russell - U of C Geoscience Associate Professor

Dr. Mehran Pooladi-Darvish - U of C Petroleum Engineering

Dr. Tony Settari - U of C Petroleum Engineering

Dr. Brij Maini - U of C Petroleum Engineering

Dr. Steve Larter - U of C Chair in Petroleum Geology

Dr. Pat Daley - Research Associate

Dr. Vik Sen - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Dr. Steve Lynch - Project Co-Investigator

Joan Embleton - Research Associate

Carmen Dumitrescu - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Fereidoon Vasheghani - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Hisako Mochinaga - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Amir Shamsa - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Mohammad Hosseini - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Yong Xu - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Hossein Agharbarati - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Mathew Fay - Ph. D. Graduate Student

Latif Ibna-Hamid - Ph.D. Graduate Student

Jason McCrank - MSc. Graduate Student

Evan Bianco - Msc. Graduate Student

Xianfeng Zhang - MSc Graduate Student